Slow Food

Chouriço de Mirandesa Presidium Created

Portugal - 14 Sep 04

Slow Food’s first Portuguese Presidium has come into being! Note before time in view of Portugal’s wealth of ancient, local breeds and products, some relatively unknown but all excellent. This Presidium is for a type of sausage - chouriço de Mirandesa. The sausage is made from the beef of the Mirandesa, brown-coated cattle with conspicuous forelocks, bred in north-east Portugal near Mirando do Douro, and bacon from the native Bìsaro pig.

At one time the sausage was made in most farms to make better use of the meat of ageing animals. But now it is dying out, because the process is long and complicated and the market for this type of product is difficult. Yet this sausage is delicious when barbecued or boiled, and constitutes a strong link to the identity of one of Portugal’s poorest and most isolated areas.

Here local traditions are very much alive and kicking: this is where the nation’s only dialect is spoken, and religious festivities are celebrated with ancestral masks and percussion instruments. On the feast day of the Mirandesa breeders there is a bullfight to establish the champion for the breed. This cattle breed is protected by a PDO and numbers are growing, but the sausage is increasingly rare.

Giordano Emo Capodilista (owner of the important Veneto winery La Montecchia and a supporter of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity project) invited Slow Food to sposor a project in Portugal, and Slow Food accepted. Capodilista’s family are originally Portuguese and he felt it was a serious oversight that no products featured in the international Presidia from a country so rich in breeds, varieties and ancient food specialities.

So now the gap has been filled: the Mirandesa cattle breeders association will attend the Salone del Gusto in Turin and a large quantity of sausages will be cooked at the Bistrot del Mondo (the Slow Food Foundation’s space devoted to presenting Presidia products requiring treatment or cooking). And, of course, the chouriço will be washed down with great Montecchia red wines in a multiple toast.