Bison Abroad | Segovia and Cochinillo

Every city has its own “thing” when it comes to food and, like all good foodies, I try my best to taste the special flavors of each city I go to.

PHOTO COURTESY Tori Stefonowicz | Segovia's aqueduct originally constructed by the Romans in the first century is held together by forces in equilibrium, with no mortar between the stones
PHOTO COURTESY | Tori Stefonowicz  Segovia’s aqueduct originally constructed by the Romans in the first century is held together by forces in equilibrium, with no mortar between the stones.

Since being in Spain I have tried jamón ibérico, gazpacho and paella — all cultural staples. Jamón ibérico is definitely something I will miss when I leave. Fish and chips in London was truly wonderful, and my gourmet experience in Paris ruined all other types of potatoes au gratin.

PHOTO COURTESY Tori Stefonowicz | Cochinillo, Segovia's signature dish, is suckling pig so tender you can cut it with a plate.
PHOTO COURTESY | Tori Stefonowicz Cochinillo, Segovia’s signature dish, is suckling pig so tender you can cut it with a plate.

I recently took a day trip to Segovia and tried cochinillo. Cochinillo translates to “suckling pig”, which is exactly what it sounds like. The pigs are not yet weaned from their mothers, around three weeks in age, and the mothers are fed a special diet to ensure the quality of the piglet so, yes, I ate Wilbur. And he, with his golden brown and perfectly crunchy skin, was delicious.

In keeping with traditions, the pigs are oven roasted in a special oven and the meat becomes so tender that you can cut it with a plate. Mind you, I did not attempt this, but according to my wonderful tour guide, cochinillo is not done right unless this feat can be achieved.

This dish is not just for the benefit of tourists, but enjoyed by the locals as well. Walking through the streets it is common to see and smell the mouth-watering aroma of a roasted pig in restaurant windows and being advertised in food museums. Yes, you read that correctly. Food museums are fairly common in the areas I have visited and, before I leave, I will go to one since I have not yet had the opportunity.

While in Segovia I met another student studying abroad from England, who was previously a vegan. However, he wanted to fully immerse himself in the cultures he was visiting and have the full experience, food and all. While he still believes in veganism wholeheartedly, he has temporarily set aside that lifestyle to experience as much as possible. After all, you have this one life to live — it is up to you to make the most of it, whatever that means to you.

Perhaps you are meant to do more than work, pay bills and die.

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