Pamplona feasts on bull run beasts
After chasing festival-goers through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, a huge black fighting bull now hangs from one leg, blood gushing out of its throat.world Updated: Jul 12, 2013 12:09 IST
After chasing festival-goers through the cobbled streets of Pamplona, a huge black fighting bull now hangs from one leg, blood gushing out of its throat.
The half-tonne beast is being drained of blood in the patio of the bullring where it was slain by a matador following the morning chase.
Like all the bulls killed in the San Fermin festival in this northern Spanish city, it will soon head to a slaughterhouse to be prepared and then sold in butcher shops.
"It's very common here in Pamplona for a housewife to buy 10 kilos, 15 kilos and freeze it to eat at Christmas or on special occasions," says one local butcher, Patxi Jimenez Arellano, 44.
A former sociologist, he now stands behind the counter in the butcher's shop founded by his father in the historic heart of Pamplona.
"People experience the bull during the whole process. They look at it in the holding pen, watch it in the bull run and in the ring, and finally they eat it. It's like closing a circle," he says.
The most popular dish is a stew made with the choicest bits of meat from the bull, but all parts of it are eaten.
The feet are cooked with peppers, the tail is chopped up and stewed with tomatoes, onions and carrots -- and the testicles are breaded and fried to make a dish called "criadillas".
It is not just the taste that locals love -- many believe eating bull will give them the strength of one, said Julio Flames, the chef and owner of La Nuez, considered one of the best restaurants in Pamplona.
"I don't believe in that kind of thing. But like all things in life, if you believe something gives you strength, maybe it does," said the 33-year-old Venezuelan, who keeps his skateboard in his kitchen.
"There is a lot of romanticism, people love to think they are eating the bull that was killed by a matador," added Flames, who likes to listen to heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath while he cooks.
The bulls used to be dismembered at the bullring after they were killed in a bullfight and the animals' testicles cooked on the spot.
But health regulations introduced in 2002 due to the outbreak of mad cow disease put an end to the tradition. The bulls must now be taken to a slaughterhouse within an hour of being killed in the ring.
Before the animal is hauled away, a butcher drains it of its blood.
A team of three mules decorated with coloured ribbons and bells drag the dead bull by the horns from the arena to the patio, where a forklift hoists it in the air by one of its hind legs.
A butcher wearing dark blue pants and a red shirt to hide the blood stains then repeatedly jabs a 20-centimetre (8-inch) knife into the bull's throat, causing several litres of blood to pour out into a plastic container.
Another man hoses the cement floor of the patio to wash away any blood that oozes out from the wounds suffered by the animal in the bullring.
When the bull arrives at the slaughterhouse, three young men dressed in white immediately set to work with knives and electric saws to skin it, chop off its legs and head and remove its innards.
The team took just under half an hour on Wednesday to skin and dismember a 550-kilo bull called Jocundo that was killed in the ring by top matador Julian Lopez Escobar, also known as "El Juli".
The bull's carcass will hang in a freezer at the slaughterhouse for a few days while health inspections are carried out, before it is chopped into smaller bits and sold.
The 48 bulls used in the eight bull runs of the annual San Fermin fiesta which wraps up on Sunday will produce around 14,000 kilos of meat products.
"That is enough bull for all the butcher shops in Pamplona," said Arellano.
He says the meat should be frozen to tenderise it.
"It is like game meat, it is very strong. It is great with red wine -- with chocolate even," he added.