It is easy for people to get confused about the meats they are eating in Spain.
When is a steak not a steak? When it is veal perhaps.
And what is lomo? Is it a type of meat or a cut of meat?
Well the clue is there when you see meals such as lomo de cerdo, lomo ibérico, lomo de embuchado or lomo cebón ( loin fattened on barley). Beef tenderloin is simply called lomo.
Lomo is the Spanish word for tenderloin. It can be bought cured or uncured.
Lomo embuchado is an air dried loin of pork that is considered to be a delicacy. The loin of pork is between 19 and 27 inches in length and has all the fat removed. It is marinated in a variety of fine seasonings. The marinated loin is stuffed into a beef skin and then lightly smoked. Thereafter it is air dried for up to four months to maintain its tenderness. You will often see it served as a tapa.
The meat of a lomo embuchado (also known as lomo curado) is a colour somewhere between pink and red. It is thought of as the ultimate cut of a Spanish butcher and some experts in the world of Spanish meat talk about it in an almost poetic fashion.
Uncured pork comes with very little fat and a favourite meal using this is lomo de fino, a loin of pork is cooked in sherry from Jerez de la Frontera and a generous helping of garlic.
Lomo corteza is a loin that has been cured with Rosemary, among other herbs. This cut is from the outer side of the loin and retains the layer of fat and rind.
Pork remains the most popular type of meat in the south of Spain. You will see the word solomillo on many restaurant menus, or if you venture into the atmospheric domain of a Spanish butcher. In the north of Spain solomillo refers to a fillet of beef, but to the ubiquitous pork in the south.
In the north the most well known cut of cured meat is the lacón, which is a front leg of ham.
If you do cross the doorstep of a Spanish butcher I suggest you stand by and spectate a while and watch the interaction between customers and butcher. You wil learn plenty simply from watching the cuts of meat favoured by the locals.
I recall going to a butchers in the town of Orgiva, nestled just below the more traditional La Alpujarra mountain villages. This town has more than its fair share of north Europeans, many of whom have been living there for decades.
So used to non Spaniards walking into his butchers asking for lamb, the butcher saw me coming and was quick to speak before I could do so. He rapidly uttered the words; “I only sell Pork! It’s lomo de cerdo or nothing.”
Well then, I replied, lomo it is.