We are right in the heart of Malaga, walking among the bustling stalls of Atarazanas Market to enjoy a market tour before we head for our cooking class. There are many things catching the visitor’s attention. The noisy fish vendors, the colorful piles of fruits and vegetables, all those shinny seasoned olives…Yes, but without a doubt those mountains of orange lard- they are told- wrapping pork meat or even chorizos, those huge pans filled with fat, will really impress the avid foreigner thinking maybe Mediterranean diet is not so healthy after all…

Let me explain. The “lomo en manteca”, which is marinated* pork loin cooked and preserved in lard, is one of the traditional food specialties in Malaga that remains strongly attached to everyday life. Having a bread roll (pitufo or mollete) with “zurrapa” (a spread made with this meat) is as common as asking for a coffee in any bar for breakfast.

In the old times, I am talking about my grandparents and before, there wasn’t a supermarket around the corner and the meat was delivered once a year when the pig slaughter took place. All that meat had to be preserved for the upcoming months: chorizos, blood sausages and all sort of cold cuts would hang in the pantry over big clay pots (no nasty plastic back then) filled with meat covered with lard to preserve it. The bottom of the pot would collect the meat threads loosened while this was being cooked, and that spread, the “zurrapa”, was the last and the best part.

Today the production of lomo and zurrapa has been industrialised, but you can still find artisanal ones in villages, homes and some bars around Malaga. My mother mixes the lard with olive oil to make it lighter, and also spices and vinegar are used in moderation, resulting in a light orange spread soft and flavorful.

If you are in Malaga give it a try. Think about it, it’s just a small bread roll for breakfast, and you have the whole day to burn it while strolling around.

*The meat is marinated with spices such as oregano or sweet paprika, garlic and sometimes vinegar for 48 hours. Then it’s cooked in the melted lard until golden and transferred to a pot covered with lard that will solidify once cold.