Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wild pigs

It's frequently said about Spain - where I've just spent a few days - that it is still possible to see the Moorish legacy on the country, more than five hundred years after the Muslim King of Granada finally surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella on 2 January 1492, completing the reconquista. That influence is obvious in the architecture and, as I discovered while perusing a menu, in the language of the food.

As anyone who has visited will know, the Spanish are mad about ham. There are dozens of types: cured for different lengths of time, with different smoke, and so on. But what caught my eye was the Spanish word for wild pig, which is 'Jabali'. It is a word which rang a bell from my travels in the Middle East on the trail of TE Lawrence, for Jabal in Arabic means mountain. Devout Muslims do not eat ham today: but I wonder whether that was always the case in Spain?

1 comment:

El Despiole said...

I think the Moors never ate pork of any kind. This is from the Cambridge World History of Food: "Spanish enthusiasm for pig meat stems in part from pork’s past importance as a symbol of cultural identity. Because Moors and Jews did not eat it, Christians saw the meat as more than simple nutrition. In sixteenth-century Spain, pork eating was an acid test faced by Spanish Moriscos and Marranos who publicly claimed conversion to Christianity. Conspicuous pork avoidance could result in an appearance before the tribunals of the Inquisition."