Extremaduran Meadow

Published: 08/26/2016 11:32:03

We speak a lot about iberian product, ham, pork shoulder, sausage and pig farming, but, what’s about the place where the pig ages, the dehesa (meadow)? Thanks to her pasture and acorns, we can enjoy our national delicacy and international too, as there jamon iberico is currently and fortunately known beyond our borders. Have you ever seen the dehesa closely? My question is adressed to people from outside Extremadura, like me. I came to live in this region for reasons what do not mind. This situation has allowed me to know a totally foreign land for me. The better I get to know it, surprises me more, and surprises me pleasantly. Like me before residing here, too many people think Extremadura is a dry land without vegetation, like westerns. Well, let me tell you that you are wrong. This region is green and fertile, very well decorated by the lucky nature which it happen to live. Rivers, natural pools, waterfalls, swamps, valleys, mountain ranges and its characteristic dehesa, the typical dehesa from Extremadura, meeting point of the iberian pig with their peers. To admire the dehesa means to fill your eyes with iberian oaks, cork oaks, sweet chesnuts, beech trees, pines, bushes, shrubs, aromatic plants such as rosemary and thyme, among other things, and it is primarily meant to animal rearing, whether beef, equine, caprine and porcine cattle, of course. You can also enjoy of hunting activities in the dehesa and it is a source of forest products such as cork, wood and firewood, mushrooms…Dehesa belongs to the mediterranean forest with mild winter, rainy spring, hot and dry summer and coming back to the rain in autumn.

A curiosity. Do you know where does the term dehesa come from? It comes from Latin, “defesa” (defence). This naming comes because first inhabitants in the reconquest protected with enclosures their cattle in this kind of forest.  

Extension of meadows is around one million ha, one million ha where iberian pig is reared using extensive methods, that is to say, few animals per hectare to optimize the production. It is a natural ecosystem protected by the European Union. The grazing of livestock helps to balance this ecosystem. Trees collaborate by pumping nutrients from their roots. It is a teamwork that provides the dehesa protection in order for it not to disappear. The only could destroy this all is man.

There remains very little for me to say on this matter, with one very important exception. When you encounter hams belonging to the protected designation of origin Dehesa de Extremadura, you can be sure that pig has been fed on acorn and pastures of the Extremaduran grasslands. No doubt about that!  

My congratulations to the people from Extremadura for your beatiful region and I recommend to everybody that do not know this land to come to discover it. You will not regret it. People, landscape diversity, villages, gastronomy and iberian product, of course. All is wonderful! It will conquer you, because Extremadura has always been a land of conquerors!  

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