Extremadura the land of the acorn-fed, pampered pig. The hams hang in solemn rows in the windows of the numerous butchers shops. Talismans helping to ward off invaders and creating a statement of identity.

Long before the pigs this area was known as the Ruta da Plata, a reference to the silver mines the Romans exploited for their coinage. The route started at the Mediterranean, crossing the Iberian peninsular to the Atlantic. The First large town on the Southern part of the route is Merida, which still has extensive Roman remains, the biggest in Spain. It became important 2000yrs ago as a retirement town for the soldiers of Augustus. The amphitheatre and other remains bear witness to a life of leisure.

The Romans also loved wine and, I am sure, introduced the vine to Extremadura. Recent growers have started producing excellent, mostly red wines the Romans would have loved, and are also great with ham. Try Bodega Antier, or Lenga Azul by §Bodegal el Moral. Liquid sunshine!


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