A Seven-Part History of Sausages – Part One: Chorizo

Comfort, versatility, indulgence, all encased in a single grand item. Really, I can only be describing one thing: sausages. From the luxurious duck sausages of a Michelin-starred restaurant to the humble hot dog, sausages have a versitility (and portability) that many other foods just cannot match. They have fed both peasants and kings, they have travelled with sailors to all the corners of the globe, and they can integrate new foods and flavours with ease.

Sausage Race - SSShupe Flickr

Sausage race!

A food this important is bound to have a fascinating history, and we will explore that history by looking at some most popular sausages from six countries. We shall start in the home of NH Hoteles – Spain – with one of the most popular Spanish sausages, chorizo.

racing chorizo - jodieandlarry - Flickr

The Chorizo, one of Klement's Racing Sausages

What chorizo is

Chorizo is made of pork mixed with loads of different spices, the most important of which is paprika. Generally classed as either spicy or sweet, chorizo can be thinly sliced and eaten as tapas, fried, put into soups or stews or simmered in apple cider or a similar strong alcohol. Given this amazing versatility, it’s no surprise that about 65,000 tonnes of the stuff are made in Spain every year, making up about 40% of Spain’s entire sausage production. Spanish chorizo output weighs more than 10,800 adult male African elephants or more than 406 Boeing 747s.


Chorizo - heavier than elephants and airplanes

Origins of chorizo

Generally speaking, the orgins of tradtional sausages can be hard to trace, largely because humans have been preserving meat for so long that the origin stories have been lost. But in the aftermath of the Black Plague, sausages started increasing in popularity throughout Europe. Because the population was growing again, people turned to agriculture to produce the majority of food. As a result, they needed something that would last longer and stretch farther than fresh meat , which is when sausage really stepped up to the plate. Ahem. As Europeans began to travel the world and come across new cultures, they adapted their sausages to include the new foods and flavours they were introduced to.

chorizo tapas - Ewan-M Flickr

Chorizo tapas

Chorizo itself probably originated from the xoriço in Catalonia (where there are 17 officially recognised varieties of chorizo). Its distinctive flavour and colour is caused by the addition of copious amounts of paprika, which in turn is made from peppers, sometimes called capsicum or bell peppers. These peppers are indigenous to Central and South America, so clearly modern chorizo was developed after Europeans found the New World.

chorizo - steeljam Flickr

Piles and piles of chorizo

The chorizo festival

Chorizo is such a popular example of Spanish cuisine, it’s only natural that it would have its own festival. Despite chorizo’s likely place of origin, the small town of Vila de Cruces in Galicia, Spain, actually hosts the most famous chorizo festival. Known as the Exaltation of the Sausage, the festival is held every February. Chorizo makers bring their wares, and festival goers can have their fill of free sausage, then buy plenty to take back home. Provided, of course they hadn’t eaten themselves into a food coma.

Cat and patatas con chorizo - Ibán Flickr

Can I have some chorizo?

For more sausage-y goodness, check out our other post – Part Two: Bratwurst

Image credits:

Sausage race! – Thanks to SSShupe

The Chorizo, one of Klement’s Racing Sausages – Thanks to jodieandlarry

Chorizo – heavier than elephants and airplanes – Thanks to Leonie for designing the graph

Chorizo tapas – Thanks to Ewan-M

Piles and piles of chorizo – Thanks to steeljam

I can has chorizo? – Thanks to Ibán and Mackerel the cat

  • posted by Angela Inniss | 23 October 2009, 9:39,

    lol this is funny! i like it keep the good stuff coming! 🙂

  • posted by Cleo | 26 October 2009, 10:51,

    this is making me hungry aww and the cat at the end is cuteee ! keep it up NH !

  • posted by leah | 26 October 2009, 16:48,

    que bien! thisis how far my spanish goes .. but i like it interesting !

  • posted by Brooke | 27 October 2009, 14:45,

    jaja, que interesante, ahora cuando me come chorizo voy a recordar este informacion!

  • posted by Melaine | 28 October 2009, 11:25,

    Hey Slt j’aime ton blog continue comme sa c’est important heheh ciao

  • posted by claire | 28 October 2009, 18:30,

    wow this is cool ivee never tried a chorizo but iwant to now 🙂

  • posted by LeticiaWation | 27 November 2009, 8:32,

    Thats cool. I agree, that was a good post!

  • posted by Angela Inniss | 27 November 2009, 10:48,

    I like this blog thanks guys its cool and fun !

  • posted by bob | 03 December 2009, 18:24,

    lol funny who is dressed up under these sausages? lol

  • posted by bob | 03 December 2009, 18:25,


  • posted by Davey | 07 December 2009, 13:58,

    nice cat

  • posted by Reseller Hosting | 04 January 2010, 3:26,

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  • posted by Angeles City Hotels | 10 January 2010, 7:15,

    Yum! The pictures made me hungry again… Informative post keep up the great posts!

  • posted by Patricia | 18 February 2010, 13:08,

    After reading you site, Your site is very useful for me .I bookmarked your site!

  • posted by Hippy | 15 April 2010, 14:18,

    When will the next instalment of sausage goodness be ready?

  • posted by fly cheap to Spain | 09 June 2010, 10:56,

    Vow, delicious. The chorizo sausage is really excellent and I feel like tasting it. It made me hungry. fly cheap to Spain are comfortable to travel.

  • posted by Bali villas | 14 June 2010, 14:26,

    delicious…love to have some..

  • posted by virginia | 09 October 2012, 7:42,

    Any history about Mexican chorizo?

  • posted by Courtney Imel | 09 October 2012, 9:13,

    Hello Virginia! Thanks for the suggestion! We will consider it in the future! 😉

  • posted by Chorizo Chorizo | 03 November 2013, 14:11,

    Nice article. Some facts about chorizo that were new to us. Made me laugh

  • posted by Courtney Imel | 05 November 2013, 15:45,

    Thanks for the comment! We’re glad you enjoyed it! 🙂


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *