Mallorcan Sobrassada,some history;
If we see the origin of civilization and the birth of the towns of the Middle East, we see how they arise near large rivers and near the sea, that is, in areas that are rich in water, and thanks to technical advances in systems irrigated and the discovery of new tools, are becoming available a flourishing agriculture, leading to the first emerging large concentrations of people and the first cities are developing. We all know that “necessity is the mother of invention”, so the man begins to have the need to preserve food for long periods of time, discovering ancient techniques such as salting meat and fish or of mince stuffing animals in their own guts for a better and lasting conservation.
During Talayotic period (1300 BC), Mallorca already has a large pig farming own island, the Mallorcan black pig, breed native of the islands, speculated that this breed is the result of progressive cross between Celtic pigs and Iberian, being under the dominion of the Roman Empire when this technique to preserve minced animals in their own gut reaches the island, which is deprecated during the Muslim period, something logical as the pig is an animal prohibited in the Quran.
With the conquest of the island in 1229 by King James I, again customs and Western Christian culture were back, returning again pig farm as the basis of insular nourishment, been from this this time when we find the first inventories where we can see references to “parts hanging flesh”, even though it will take time and a number of historical and cultural conditioning to get to the actual Sobrassada as we know it today.
It is in the beginning of the Renaissance that we find on the island of Sicily a pressing technique sausage called “sopressa“. It is believed that our sobrassada etymology can come from this technique or it´s a “soprassata” variant. There is a reference to a document of the fifteenth century which first appears above sobrassada. It is shipping from the butler of the king of Sicily to Martin the Humane, Martin I of Aragon, also called the Humane or the Elder, who was appointed lord and ruler of Sicily in 1380, so such reference may have historical validity.
Some argue that the word may come from the Castilian word “sobreasada”, although the word “sobreasada” means that at some point the mixture that makes up the sausage is roasted, while the inlay envelope as we do it in Mallorca, has always been raw. Another popular myth states that the name could come from the word “sobras” and “asadas” (roast leftovers), which like the “sobreasada” does not seem to have much validity.
Due the important maritime trade of the time, the inlaying comes from Sicily to Valencia, coming from there to Mallorca, where the art of preserving in the gut of animals was adopted and expanded very quickly. From the sixteenth century a significant charcuterie tradition developed in Mallorca, becoming the sobrassada in one of the usual forms of preserves. In traditional Mallorcan diet, sobrassada and similar sausages were almost the only source of meat consumption as fresh meat dishes were reserved for special occasions and events.
From the seventeenth century we find many references to the use of the sobrassada in the cuisine of the island, and records of this exist different books, being repeated in several books the following quote…” foren emmagatzemats dins un rebost cent sobressades i trenta llonganisses” whose translation would be “were stored in a pantry hundred sobrassadas and thirty sausages”.
Is late eighteenth century when the most important change in sobrassada, acquired its present red coloration due to paprika, which like other vegetables and fruits that we eat regularly, is native from America. There is a written record of Christopher Columbus as paprika was delivered as part of an offering to the Catholic Monarchs in 1493, in the monastery of Guadalupe. Were the Geronimo´s friars of Yuste and Guadalupe, who begin paprika culture, and rapidly expanded it from Extremadura to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.
From this moment sobrassada already experiencing little change until the twentieth century, when thanks to industrialization amounts forces prepare more precious inlay and export to Spain and other countries starts, becoming with Mallorcan Ensaimadas, one of the best known references of our island.
The Mallorcan sobrassada scored in 1993, from the Govern of Balearic Islands, the Specific Designation of Sobrassada from Mallorca. In 1996 the European Union awarded the quality label “Protected Geographical Indication“.
The regulatory council has entrusted the defense of the special designation, the application of its rules, and the promotion and control of sobrassadas from Mallorca, which we will see in a different article.