Tocino – Espresso Bacon

August 27, 2007 By: erik Category: Food, Spain, Weird 1,254 views

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Today we will continue the series of “Strange things to eat in Spain”. You may recall such delicacies as pig snout, octopus, blood sausage, and cow tongue. Tocino is the layer of fat under a pig’s skin. It’s served salted and grilled.

See the little bristly black pig hairs? (see larger) Yes, it’s all eaten. Look at how it glistens with fatty goodness!

If I had to describe the flavor in two words, it would be “espresso bacon”. It’s everything that’s good about bacon, magnified 50 times. When properly salted, it really is beautiful sensory experience. But you can only ever eat it in small doses, both because the flavor is so strong and because myocardial infarctions aren’t cool.

This plate was served as a free snack with our glasses of wine at a local bar. We mainly concentrate our business with the three bars in town with high probability of snack offerings.

I think the hooves are the only part of the pig not consumed in Spain. Although now that I’ve said that, there’s probably some farmer gnawing on a hoof right now.

  • Hi, I only like tocino in Cocido, and even then I just put it in for flavor, but my husband loves it. It’s just a tad too greasy for me. Have you tried oreja yet? When I first met my father-in-law and we were having a drink at his favorite bar with his friends, they gave me some to try…did they ever have a good laugh at the look on my face when I bit into it.

  • Less than a month ago, when in Extremadura, I had some oreja salad. It was nothing but chopped up tomatoes and pigs’ ears. It’s the crunchy cartilage texture that’s so awkward about it. I’ve also had it in garbanzos like the snout.

  • pigs ring

    There is an old phrase said in Australia if you don’t agree with somebody about something they’ve said: Pig’s Arse! I haven’t lived in Oz for nearly 10 years now but your post brought that phrase back to mind. And hey, surely that is one part those pig crazy spaniards wouldn’t chow down on – isn’t it?

  • Well, it depends on what you mean by “arse”. The strong back legs and haunches are the most coveted part of the pig. And the intestines are eaten by many cultures around the world, including where I’m from. Presumably there’s some brown gray area in between that is discarded and not actually consumed, but I don’t know.

  • bronius

    Sometimes I have to wonder, maybe some cultures have found enterprising ways to discard of the unwanted portions of the food process by calling it a cultural delicacy: tourists pay top dollar to help them get rid of waste! ha

    Nice post. I, too, enjoyed picking around the bones and shells in my otherwise normal dishes.