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Thursday, February 24, 2022

More customs of Lardy Thursday

Barbeque of pork products

Today we're more interested in how to eat without gaining weight, so it's hard to understand how eager our ancestors were after eating, and the importance that it had for them.

We have already forgotten that when we speak of Lent (a word whose meaning fewer and fewer can account for), we are referring to an institution that had to do with eating - or more specifically with not eating - making a virtue of a necessity, and above all, by making those who lived in abundance suffer, thus equalising them with the poor.

The very celebration of Carnival, whatever the remote origin of the word and the party, became the farewell party for meat. Hence, they tried to enjoy it as much as possible on those days; not only because they were going to continue into 40 days in which religion was going to prohibit them from eating meat, but also to get even for the long meat fasts that poverty imposed on them throughout the year. 

The terms carnestolendas (meats that have to be removed) and carnestoltas (meats that have been removed) speak clearly to us about how Carnival has been understood by our culture. Well, going into the raw material of the festival, which was meat, the medium-length version of Carnival (one week) was instituted. Jueves Lardero (Fat Thursday or Lardy Thursday) was invented to solemnly start the batch of days when you had to take the opportunity to gorge yourself on meat, so as not to miss it during the imminent Lent.

Lardero is an adjective from the old lardo, which is the bacon or fat (also called the tallow or animal lard). Let's not lose sight of the fact that, after all, it refers to the least valuable part of the animal, with which, however, our grandmothers were capable of real culinary wonders. It comes from the Latin lardum or lardium, the word the Romans called bacon and lard. 

Now, the usual meaning of bacon is the fat meat of the pig; that came to be synonymous with pork. And this was what particularly characterized Jueves Lardero, the abundant consumption of this meat or its secondary products. Typical of this day, for example, was the pork rind omelette, which was eaten in the fields, especially by the children who went to school, for whom this was a day of great celebration when they began to show off their costumes. But this is just the last bastion of a party that had better times. In their moments of splendour, they were seen in the streets and especially in the markets, and they went from house to house, the first comparsas of the Carnival, asking for meat or whatever they could give, to celebrate this meal. This became rooted and institutionalized in such a way that in many places it was customary on this day for the owner of the factory or workshop to pay the workers a meal based on pork. And around this celebration were the first combats between butchers and fishmongers and the first dances and parades of Carnival.