Sineu Slaughter

Sineu is one of my favourite towns in Mallorca: it is cosy enough to be a village, big enough to have the amenities of a town, has one of Mallorca’s best markets (every Wednesday) and is famous for frito Mallorquinwhich I love.


Annual Sineu Fair

Last week I went with Toni, Teresa and Marchela of our Mallorca Winter Activities group to the local fair in Sineu.

Most of the village fairs have finished now, as winter approaches and people look forward to Christmas and the new year. But the fair in Sineu is not the typical autumn fair; it’s the Feria de las Matanzas which means The Fair of the Slaughter.

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

Sounds a bit gruesome, I know, and it is really, with the farmers bringing their beautiful pigs to the fair to show them off; big, fat, ready to burst pigs, prized Mallorcan Porc Negre (black Mallorcan pig), squealing baby piglets of just a week old, that the children can pick up and bond with… and you just know that by evening-time it’s all going to be served on your plate!

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

But as horrific as that sounds, that’s the way of life here.

Pigs are reared to eat

Even now that we are more cosmopolitan (yes, hard to believe, I know, but even the farmers have mobile phones now) this is the way it is; pigs are reared to eat.

Just as lambs are.

A child knows that he can’t form an attachment to the beautiful silky week-old piglet he has spent a whole day playing with because he knows that pig’s purpose in life; that when it is big enough it will be served. There are no such things as pet rabbits here!

And there is no fuss when it’s time for the pig to go to the slaughter, there are no tears, no child counselling sessions, no one ever expected things to be different.

Yes it sounds harsh and barbaric but how amazing is the taste of roast suckling pig, Mallorca’s speciality? Well, put it this way; it’s so good that it’s what the Mallorcan people serve for lunch on Christmas day.

Which brings me back to the fair in Sineu. This fair is just a few weeks before Christmas for exactly that reason: they slaughter the pig, prepare the sausages and save the best cuts to serve roasted on Christmas Day.

Slaughtering the pig (look away now)

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

The slaughter itself follows a traditional ritual which takes place on the day of the Patron Saint of the town (the Sineu Slaughter takes place on the day of San Tomás – patron saint of Sineu) and generally involves the whole town, just like this fair.

Most large families traditionally slaughtered a pig on or around this day and it was normally done during winter so that they would have meat for the family during the winter months.

The strongest member of the family would normally be the one to wrestle the uncooperative pig onto the slaughter table – obviously this is a difficult task as the pig senses the anticipation and excitement of the gathered crowd of people who have come to watch or participate, and knows what is coming, so according to some farmers that I have spoken to, it doesn’t go willingly!

Once on the table, the butcher then stabs the pig straight through the neck with a huge spike, which kills it immediately. One of the women is waiting with a bowl to catch the blood which then pours out of the animal. Remember, nothing from the pig is wasted.

The principal use of the blood is for morcilla (black pudding) and as the blood flows out of the animal it must be kept moving as it cannot be allowed to clot. This is normally done by one of the mature women of the household as it requires experience. She stands there stirring the pot of blood as it pours out of the pig.

Boiling water is then poured over the animal, the skin is removed and the pig is thoroughly cleaned before the carcass is hung up, cut straight down the middle and the intestines are removed and cleaned ready for making morcilla, chorizo and other kinds of Spanish “sausage” – I won’t describe how those things are made as you probably won’t want to eat them ever again and that would be a real shame.

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

I will say that nothing is wasted. From this one pig they get the loins, which they cure, the hams, which are often cured and last for months, the other meaty pieces which are roasted, the offal and even the fat, which is used for lard.

The head and the trotters were always considered prized parts of the pig and would be presented to the most senior members of the family – lucky them!

Sobrassada in Sineu

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

What they were making in Sineu when we arrived was sobrassada.

Sobrassada is a typical Mallorcan product of the pig which is made with minced pork-tripe and paprika. It is stuffed into the intestine which acts as a bag. Then it is hung and can be kept for a long time. To eat it, it is spread on bread like a coarse pâté and it is delicious, though for many it is very strong.

Often it is used in cooking in traditional Mallorcan recipes and it matches very well with honey.

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

At the fair the sobrassada was not conserved in any kind of “bag”; instead it was taken directly from the pig and there were teams of hard working women dressed in traditional Mallorcan attire making it and serving it as fresh as it could ever be on slices of Mallorcan bread and the locals were queuing up for it.

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

The rest of the fair was pretty much like other fairs in Mallorca: traditional Ball de Bot dancing, stalls with artisan products, wine, olive oil, cured cheeses…

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

We found a very nice stall from a local Sineu bakery called Pa Torat, which was selling freshly baked feria bread made with sobrassada. It was flying off the stall as quick as they could get it out of the oven and down to the church square where they had the stall.

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

They were so amused with us taking photos of the bread that they let us go inside and take photos of the rather unique oven:

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012 Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

As well as this, there were plenty of animal exhibitions; farmers showing off their best pigs (of course), donkeys, goats and poultry. And as always at the local fairs there were pony ride for the kids.

Feria de matanzas Sineu 2012

This is one fair that is quite different to any other and is well worth getting up early for (and remember, the earlier you arrive the fresher the sobrassada!).

Discover more of Mallorca’s fairs by clicking right here.

Or see my photos from the Sineu fair below. I know I have packed this post full of photos already, but there are loads more from this fair – I just couldn’t stop clicking!

If you can’t see the slideshow, please click here.

Have you been to the Sineu Fair? Which is your favourite local fair in Mallorca or in your area?

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: fairs in mallorcafeaturedLocal FairsmallorcaSineuspainWhere I Am Right NowWinter Activities


About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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  1. susan sykes says:

    I know it’s the way of life over there in Mallorca as it is in farming communities here in England, we have a chef who feeds his pigs up and then slaughters them and as you say doesn’t waste anything it’s Hugh Fearnley whittingstall and he has his own programme river cottage where it follows him for a year with the pigs.
    I hope I’m never considered senior family member to be presented with the head or trotters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As you say the suckling pig is delicious, and I’m looking forward to eating it on Christmas day lunch.

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