Monday, May 11, 2015

Pig tales in La Alberca, Spain

Nestled in the Sierra de Francia about an hour from the city of Salamanca, the little village of La Alberca has deep roots. People were living here before the Romans arrived. According to legend (and Wikipedia), in 1465 the women of the town defeated Portuguese troops and claimed their enemies' flag, which is still preserved in the village. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

This quaint alley off the main plaza in La Alberca is
where the bulls wait during the village bullfights.

La Alberca was the first rural village in Spain to be given National Historic Heritage status, according to the country's tourism website. Its main square is surrounded by columned porches, restaurants and tapas bars. In addition to being the center of the town's social life. the plaza also hosts an occasional bullfight.

Our group heads off to explore the shops of La Alberca.

On our quiet Tuesday morning in Alberca, we browse the shops and are invited to a local bodega (wine cellar) for a wine and ham tasting. Iberian ham is a specialty of this area and we enjoy watching the bodega's owner artistically slice and display the paper-thin slices.

Jamón ibérico

The slicing master at work

At lunch, we are served the local delicacy: roast suckling pig. I am a bit put off by the idea of eating a baby pig, but am surprised at how delicious it turns out to be. (Tomorrow my digestive track will suggest that my first instincts were probably correct.)

Each year on July 13 a pig named San Anton is blessed and released into the streets of La Alberca. For the rest of the year, the residents feed San Anton and on January 17, the day of the feast of San Antonio, the pig is raffled off to raise funds for the Brothers of Saint-Antony.

In addition to ham and a village pig, another noteworthy swine is the stone statue outside the church. It is said couples wishing to conceive should fondle the stone pig at midnight. (This may be the most awkward sentence I've ever written for this blog!)

Ken demonstrates the method used by some seeking fertility help.

Ken and I were in La Alberca as part of a language immersion program where Spaniards and Anglos spend the week together talking, listening, eating, drinking and learning. The purpose is to sharpen the Spaniards' English language skills, but it turned out to be so much more. I will write about this incredible, life-changing week in a future post.

The village of La Alberca is a short walk from the mountain
resort Abadia de los Templarios where we spent a week volunteering
with Diverbo, 
an English-language immersion program.

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