Why in Spain all the restaurant and bars a hanged pig leg? -Jewish Tour guide in Madrid and Toledo-

Almost all my customers when they come to my Jewish Madrid Tour ask me the same question. This essay aims to clarify an unknown tradition of Spain and reveal its origins.

If you don't see with your eyes it's hard to believe the level of love of the spanish people towards pig meat. The manufacturing of pig meat is a huge industry in Spain. And to take advantage of every part they also manufacture some food additives with the rest of the animals. These additive are used communly in every fast consuming daily products.

Most all the bars in Madrid (and Spain) have a pigs leg hanging in them as if on display. This goes back to the Spanish Inquisition when all the Jews and Muslims where kicked out of the country. Having a pig’s leg displayed in your shop showed that you were not Jewish nor Muslim. Apparently, it has just stuck around all these years.

Suspended by a hoof on a hook, the pig legs hung down over the bar and tables. No one gets dirty by juicy pig fat drippings because each leg has a snowcone like object which avoids this kind of little annoying problems. We are in Madrid and jews don't like pork!

Let's analyse when and where everthing started...

Food was also one of the primary ways that Jews were pinpointed as dissenter heretics by cristian church authorities in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. Cleaning meat by getting rid of the blood in water, eating meat during Catholic Lent, baking unleavened bread, and eating bitter herbs in the Spring (in honor of Passover), became the basis by which Jews could be distinguished by neighbors and jealous rivals. The consequences of being identified as an unrepentant Jew in one’s home, and in one’s heart, included expulsion (often to North Africa), or being burned alive at the stake.

Even today, in some crypto jew house (even in Madrid or Toledo) you can observe some "weird" traditions beeing practised almost unconsciously. These traditions have its origin back in those difficult days where jews suffered under an unmerciful authority. Jewish people strugelled to maintain their customs and even those who were less successful to conserve their identity, managed to transfer something to the next generations.

As I arrange special walking tour in Toledo from a jewish perspective, I always thought that this information is a very interesting detail to share with my customers and it makes my Jewish Toledo Tour more authentical compare to the other tours.