Wednesday, 18 July 2012 00:00
Visitors have looked forward to the Vinhais’ Smoked Meat Festival, or Fumeiro, on the second weekend of February since it began in 1981. Besides shopping through the numerous markets that populate the festival, visitors also get to experience a variety of activities related to smoked foods. Three decades of experience make Vinhais the festival's unequivocal capital. The event has gained international recognition.
In 2012, the Fumeiro began in the market plaza, passing through the soccer stadium and the town’s high school. As the event has grown, no single space has been big enough to hold the influx of tourists, vendors and activities. The town hopes to one day build its own pavilion for the growing event.
It’s no coincidence that Vinhais is the town with the highest number of licensed regional restaurants, as the Fumeiro has been the driving force of the meat-smoking enterprise. There are 19 licensed kitchens that function nine months out of the year, and each kitchen can make up to 3,000 kilos of meat and sell within a radius of 40 kilometers. The five industrial units are not as limited in their production, but the cooks that make the product still use the same base materials, as well as seasoning and drying methods as their neighbors, in order to maintain the meats’ regional quality. There are nearly 100 individual producers that work exclusively for the event.
The numbers speak for themselves. In past years, nearly 70,000 visitors have attended the Vinhais Feira do Fumeiro from around the country and neighboring Spain. Nearly 50 tons of smoked meat are sold at the festival, which translates into thousands of euros invested into the local economy. The meat itself has earned the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by the European Union, which is a quality guarantee for product purchasers. This denomination is related to the indigenous Bísaro pig breed of Vinhais, which is natural fed foods like chestnuts, which add to the pork’s succulent flavor. A large variety of beef and pork sausages, buletos, alheiras, sweet and savory chouriço and prosciutto is made with Bísaro pork, and it's a proud part of the festival. However, the fair, organized by the Town of Vinhais and the National Association of Bísara Breeders, is not limited to smoked meats alone. It also features a variety of regional products, arts and gourmet foods, as well as musical entertainment, a bull fight, pub and restaurant specials and other activities that, together, create a diverse four-day program that is sure to delight anyone who ventures to Vinhais.
VINHAIS - Vinhais is in the nucleus of the Bragança district, spanning an area of 694.9 square kilometers, with 9,166 residents (according to the 2011 INE Census). Nestled on the Spanish border, the town owes its name to its rich history of wine production. According to historians, it was known as the “land of vines and vineyards.”
Vinhais was founded in 1253 by D. Alfonso III, and was recognized by D. Manuel I in 1512. A strategic border defense point, Vinhais served as a battleground for centuries, and played an important role in history.
Today, Vinhais is known for its agriculture, nature, cuisine and its small and medium industries, especially in the growing of chestnuts and Bísaro pigs. Its equipment and infrastructure have contributed significantly to the advancement of the greater region. With strong connections to their roots and cultural traditions, Vinhais residents are proud of the Feira do Fumeiro, which receives thousands of visitors every year.
The local Montesinho Natural Park provides not only a beautiful view, but an impressive array of activities. Its biological park is one of the best in the country. The Museum of Sacred Art, the Museum of Olive Oil and the Ethnogrphic Museum are in nearby Agrochão, as well as the Museum School of Vila Verde. Don't miss the Interpretative Center of Montesinho Natural Park (in Casa da Vila), along the wall of the Vinhais castle. The churches of São Fecundo and São Francisco; the pillory of Vinhais; the mansions of Corujeira, Condes de Vinhais, Estêvão de Mariz and Conde de Sarmento; and the Medieval halls and jail are other areas that give visitors a fresh perspective on Vinhais' powerful history.
Types of Smoked Meat
The Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) that Vinhais' smoked meat has received shows customers that its meat is authentic. Made from a natural fed indigenous Bísaro pig, Vinhais meat is juicy and succulent taste. The excellence of the main ingredients, in addition to traditional processing and the regional climate, make Vinhais smoked meats stand out as the best in the country.
Salpicão de Vinhais (PGI) - Salpicão de Vinhais is a sausage made from Bísaro pork loin. The pork is seasoned with salt, red or white regional wine, water, garlic, paprika and bay leaves and is fed into thick cylindrical pork casings. After curing, the salpicão can be eaten raw, finely sliced, or, while fresh, barbecued.
Chouriça de carne de Vinhais (PGI) -Chouriça de carne de Vinhais, also known as linguiça, is made of meat and Bísara pork lard. The mixture is then seasoned with the same seasonings as the salpicão de vinhais, and inserted into a pork or cow casing. Chouriça de Vinhais can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled, depending on the amount of time it's been cured.
Alheira de Vinhais (PGI) - The alheira de Vinhais is made with a mixture of Bísaro meat, regional bread and olive oil from Tras-os-Montes. Salt, garlic and paprika is then added, and the sausage is fed into a cow casing. After smoking, the sausage should be cooked before consumed.
Butelo de Vinhais (PGI) - Butelo de Vinhais is a smoked sausage made with Bísaro pork, lard, bones, and rib and spine cartilage. After flavoring with salt, garlic, paprika, bay leaves, water and red or white regional wine, the mixture is fed into a large intestine. This sausage should be cooked before it's consumed.
Chouriço Azedo de Vinhais (PGI) - To make this smoked sausage, Bísaro pork is mixed with regional bread, olive oil, lard and salt. The resulting mixture is then flavored with paprika, garlic and olive oil and fitted into a large pork intestine. The chouriço azedo de Vinhais should be cooked before consumed.
Chouriça doce de Vinhais (PGI) - The chouriça doce de Vinhais is made with lean and fatty Bísaro pork, regional wheat bread, honey, Trás-os-Montes olive oil and nuts and almonds. First, the meat is spiced and then boiled. After this, it is shredded and mixed with bread and the remaining ingredients. The mixture is inserted into a pig or cow casing. The chouriça should be cooked before consumed.
Vinhais Prosciutto (PGI) – Vinhais prosciutto is taken from the legs of adult Bísaro pigs. The meat is salted over a period of 30 days, then is rubbed with a mixture of paprika, olive oil and/or lard and is slowly smoked over burning oak or chestnut wood. The meat is secured in a cool, dry place to cure and age for at least one year. When the prosciutto is ready, it should be eaten raw, in thin strips.
The Bísaro Pig
The History: According to the General Livestock Census of the Kingdom of Porugal (1870), Bísaro pigs come from the center and northern provinces. Their short legs and drooping ears distinguish them from a similar Alentejan breed. The Celtic name was used by Sanson to express the age of the breed, which was the only one that existed among the Celtic people in ancient Gaul.
J.F Macedo Pinto wrote in the 1878 Veterinary Survey:
(…) “1st Bizaro our Celtic Type – The breeds of this type of common boar belong exclusively to Europe. They are known for the following characteristics: thick head with short and flat face, long snout, large mouth and long ears that droop to just below the eyeline, long body that is rounded on the back; chest with vertical diameter much greater than the horizontal, giving the form a flat appearance with long legs, stiff hair of varying color, most often black. The many breeds of this type, found all over Europe and mostly in central or northern Europe, can be distinguished only through the thickness of the body. Our common pigs in the northern provinces grow very slowly, only reaching adulthood after two years, and even then are not easy to fatten. They give good meat, but are very boney…
“In Trás-os-Montes, Minho, Beiras and in the Estremadura, north of the Tejo, this type is most common; it’s distinguished by its corpulence and amount of bristles. Some pigs measure 1.5 meters from neck to tail and nearly 1 meter in height, weighing between 200 and 250 kilograms. Most of these pigs in Portugal are black; though some white ones have been seen in Monsão and Valladares, and are known as Gallegos because they come from Galicia, Spain. Black, white or even spotted, there are ones that are quite bristly and others known as “mollarinhos”, which have fewer bristles and much smoother hair. Usually all bizaros grow slowly (the pig takes from two to five years to age into adulthood), and is difficult to fatten, but its meat produced is lean. Its complexion is not the most robust or healthy…”
Virgílio Taborda wrote in 1932:
“…The type that is most prevalent in Trás-os-Montes is the bísaro, which grows slowly, is difficult to fatten and is richer in meat than in fat…” “Potatoes and chestnuts abound as the staple diet during the pig’s fattening period. In many places the pigs also walk in the fields, eating oak and acorns.”
Póvoa Janeiro wrote in 1944:
“The pig shows how inselective breeds can be. Generaly slow, graceless movements. Very prolific litters, sometimes with as many as twenty piglets. As for the quality of the meat, it is lean and its flavor depends on the pig’s diet.”
In 1967 Ramiro Ferrão and J. Alves da Mira said:
“In the north of the Tejo, there's a pig of Celtic breed, generally known in southern industrial zones as “pig of the earth...
“...This pig, inhabiting the regions north of the Tejo, produces extraordinary meat, that, unfortunately, is accompanied by an equally strong production of bones and skin, which greatly devalues it...”
Bísaro pigs are of Celtic origin. They're large animals and can reach over a meter in height and 1.5 meters in length. They are black, white or spotted animals with rough and abundant bristles. The head is long and thick with drooping ears, a rough face and a big mouth. The neck is muscular. The body is long, with an arched back, a high, shallow chest, a long flank, a narrow, drooping rear and a tucked stomach. Its legs are bony and lack muscularity; its thighs are of a good length but also lack muscularity. The feet are well developed. The tail is thick and medium in length. The animals are very docile, with slow and graceful movements. They are highly prolific.
The Bísaro pork carcass has a higher proportion of muscle than fat, whose flavor can be altered depending on the animal's rich and varied diet.
System of Production
In the beginning of the 20th century, the “vezeira” system was often practiced in pig feeding. The animals roamed freely over large areas of field, grazing on the acorns and herbs that they came across. Today, that the pig is bred in a semi-extensive system, in which all breeders have licensed pens that offer a limited amount of space for the animals. These pens are adjacent to patches of land where the animals spend most of their time, except during periods of birth and lactation, when mothers and piglets are isolated. Some breeders use an open-air system called “camping” throughout the production cycle. Regardless of their system, all farms aim to raising sows, boars and piglets, and fatten pigs for consumption.
The pigs' diet depends on the local agriculture's available resources. It is fueled mainly by farm crops, consisting of a mixture of grains, tubers, vegetables and fruits throughout the year. The pigs are only fed compound feed during weaning and lactation.
Bísaro pork is the main ingredient to certified regional smoked meat throughout Vinhais.
Area of Dispersion
Bísaro pork is distributed throughout the Trás-os-Montes region, namely in the counties of Alfândea da Fé, Bragança, Vila Flor, Chaves, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Moncorvo, Montalegre, Valpaços, São João da Pesqueira, Moimenta da Beira, Vila Real, Vimioso and, of course, Vinhais. However, you can still find the meat in the Minho, Douro, Litoral and Beira Litoral, if you know where to look. The Trás-os-Montes region is formed by a succession of plateaus and mountains, where the climate is humid and rainy in the west and drier as you approach the Eastern border.
Trás-os-Montes continues today to be a region dominated by traditional agriculture and subsistence farming, characterized by small farms and small herds, where the Bísaro pig, like other native species, lives and adapts perfectly.
The Bísaro has suffered a huge decline in its population, but its ability to adapt to traditional agriculture, its docile temperament, its prolificity, the ease of its raising piglets, and its meat quality have all contributed to the maintenance of the breed over the long term.
Actually, according to data from ANCSUB, there are currently 1,286 females and 200 males, spread over 93 farms, situated in the Trás-os-Montes and Minho regions. Most of these can be found in the county of Vinhais.
Where to Buy Smoked Meat
Transformation Units of Vinhais Meats:
Fumituela – Vinhais – Tel. 273 772 197
ViFumeiro – Vinhais – Tel. 273 771 193
Enchidos Aurélios – Rebordelo/Vinhais – Tel. 278 369 193
Ribeira dos Moinhos – Vila Boa/Vinhais – 273 772 49
Amândio Pereira-Vila Boa, 5320-210 Vinhais, 934730931
Adélia de Jesus Silva Gama Carvalho -Nunes, 5320-091 Vinhais, 273771263
Firmino dos Santos Medeiros-Vila Verde, 5320-322 Vinhais, 273772874
Inácio Lourenço Fernandes-Espinhoso, 5320-033 Vinhais, 273679223
Isaltina Maria Correia Santos -Nuzedo de Baixo, 5335-133 Vinhais, 278369332
Jocelim António Guerreiro de Carvalho-Pinheiro Novo, 5320-121 Vinhais, 934884015
José Alberto dos Santos de Jesus-Rua da Igreja, 5335-111 Rebordelo, Vinhais, 278369269
Lucinda de Jesus Pires-Bairro do Calvário nº 51, 5320-305 Vinhais , 273772544
Manuel Artur Martins-Mós de Celas, 5320-022 Vinhais, 273989290
Manuel António Pires -Seixas, 5320-154 Vinhais, 273696336
Messias Augusto Gonçalves-Cidões, 5320-251 Vinhais, 273772113
Quinta da Ameã/ Auróra-Ousilhão, 5320-100 Vinhais, 273772139
Regina de Fátima Alves Fernandes-Romariz, 5320-092 Vinhais, 273772606/ 937239730
Vera Maria Alves-Nunes, 5320-091 Vinhais, 273771195
Zita dos Anjos Teles Afonso-Vilar de Lomba, 5320-323 Vinhais, 276107755
1 IDALINA JOSEFA AFONSO- CABEÇA DE IGREJA, 273696499
2 FRANCISCA DOS ANJOS MAÇAIRA-CAROCEIRAS, 273679425
3 MARIA DO CÉU PIRES RODRIGUES-CARVALHAS, 273648016
4 ADÉLIA LIBERATA SANTARÉM-CASTRO, 273771421
5 FILOMENA CHORENSE-EDROSA, 273669268
6 NATERCIA CARDOSO-ERMIDA, 273772173
7 JUDITE DE FÁTIMA ARAÚJO SILVA-ESPINHOSO, 273679330
8 NATÁLIA DA CONCEIÇÃO FERREIRA VAZ-FRESULFE, 273659410
9 IRENE DA CONCEIÇÃO GONÇALVES FERREIRA PIRES- GESTOSA, 273689481
10 MARIA ERNESTINA MORAIS- MAÇAIRA, 273679231
11 ISABEL MARIA GONÇALVES-NUNES, 273771482
12 ISILDA LASSALETE FERNANDES MARTINS GONÇALVES-NUNES, 936599537
13 RITA ULEMA FERNANDES AFONSO-NUNES, 273771475
14 NAIR DOS ANJOS GONÇALVES-NUNES, 273772897
15 IRACEMA DOS ANJOS ALVES-NUNES, 273771471
16 TERESA DE JESUS GARCIA LOURENÇO-NUZEDO DE CIMA, 273696245
17 MARIA ALICE FERNANDES-NUZEDO DE CIMA, 273696310
18 MARIA ZULMIRA SOUSA-OUSILHÃO, 273771493
19 MARIA DE LURDES GOMES DIEGUES-PAÇÓ, 273659247
20 MARIA ISABEL ALVES-PAÇÓ, 273659473
21 CARLOS LOURENÇO ALVES-PASSOS DE LOMBA, 938603275
22 ADELAIDE DOS AFONSO BORGES-PENSO, 273696486
23 ARMELINA DOS ANJOS PIRES MARTINS-PENSO, 273696127
24 DEOLINDA DE JESUS PIRES RODRIGUES-PRADA, 273772546
25 ANA DA CONCEIÇÃO GESTOSA-RIO DE FORNOS, 273771229
26 MARIA ISABEL RIBEIRO DA SILVA RIJO-ROMARIZ, 273771454
27 MARIA CESARINA-ROMARIZ, 273771280
28 HENRIQUE DOS ANJOS MIRANDA-SALGUEIROS, 273696435
29 MARIA MAVILDE GONÇALVES-SALGUEIROS, 273696145
30 JOSÉ DOMINGOS BARREIRA-SALGUEIROS, 273696292
31 DEOLINDA DAS DORES AFONSO-SOBREIRO DE BAIXO, 273772771
32 ADELAIDE LIDIA PIRES AFONSO-SOBREIRO DE CIMA, 273771060
33 CRISTINA DE FÁTIMA GONÇALVES-SOUTELO, 939502074
34 LUZIA DA CONCEIÇÃO SILVA FERNANDES-TUIZELO, 273696345
35 LUISA DA CRUZ-TUIZELO, 273696345
36 SILVIA DA ASSUNÇÃO RODRIGUES POUSA -VILA BOA, 936769000
37 MARIA BERNARDETE FERNANDES DO VALE -VILA BOA, 273771403
38 IDALINA DE JESUS MORAIS-VILA BOA, 273772271
39 ANTÓNIA DE FÁTIMA GUERRA-VILA BOA, 273772230
40 MARIA AURORA-VILA BOA, 273771749
41 AURINDA GUILHERMINA MARTINS-VILA VERDE, 273771097
42 GRAÇA FERREIRA-VILAR DE LOMBA, 273108819
43 LURDES DO NASCIMENTO SANTOS-VILAR DE LOMBA, 273689372
44 MARIA VITÓRIA ANES-VILAR DE OSSOS, 273696222
45 MARIA IVONE SANTARÉM DO NASCIMENTO FERNANDES-VILAR DE OSSOS, 273771581
46 MARIA ALICE GONÇALVES ALVES-VILAR SECO DE LOMBA, 273689421
47 MARIA HELENA ALONSO NEVES-VILARINHO DE LOMBA, 273689203
48 ILDA DA LUZ SEUANES-VINHAIS, 273771518
49 ELISIA AUGUSTA-VINHAIS, 273772896