Chorizo, as we know it today, was born in the seventeenth century with the arrival of paprika in Spain from America, a spice that gives it its characteristic reddish colour and spicy flavour. Previously, the chorizo had a black or white hue depending on whether it had blood or not.
Fire and salt are essential for any type of sausage as they allow the long-lasting conservation of the meat, and can be consumed months after slaughter.
In 1726, La Real Academia de la Lengua (The Royal Academy of Language) noted the first definition of chorizo in el Diccionario de Autoridades (The Authoritative Dictionary): “short piece of intestine, filled with meat, usually pork, minced and marinated, which is normally smoked.”
While hunting, King Carlos IV, met a choricero (a person who makes chorizo) who offered him a sausage that he took from his saddlebags. The monarch liked it so much that he named him official supplier of the Royal House. This anecdote was immortalised by Bayeu, Goya’s brother-in-law, in a tapestry called El choricero José Rico, de Candelario (The chorizo man José Rico, from Candelario).
The slaughter of the pig is one of the most deeply-rooted gastronomic and cultural traditions in Spain, a ritual in which families obtained meat and sausages for the whole year. Even today, in many parts of Spanish territory, the slaughter continues to be carried out in the traditional way.
There are as many recipes as there are chorizos, but what they all have in common are the main ingredients: pork meat and bacon, paprika, garlic, and salt.
The spices are varied; In fact, it’s not just one that permeates the aroma so characteristic of chorizo, but it is the sum of several scents, among which are garlic, pepper, cumin, bay leaf, thyme, onion, paprika, or oregano.