The veal from Aliste is the meat of a young cow, no older than a year, produced for food and traditionally grown in the Aliste, Sayago, and Sanabria regions. From this product validated by an Indicación Geográfica Protegida, we can distinguish two types of animals:
Lechal: Meat produced by an animal that was never weaned off of its mother’s milk. This cow had to be 10 months or younger at the time of harvest.
Pastera: Meat produced by an animal that was harvested at 12 months at the latest.
Aliste veal is characterized by meat that contains white fat, is very juicy, and that has a delicate flavor and aroma. The color of the meat will vary, depending on which type you choose. The Lechal veal will be pink, while the Pastera veal will be somewhere between pink and red. These differentiating characteristics are due to the differences in the age of the cow and how it was fed when it was slaughtered.
There is a multitude of documents the social and economic importance of veal in this region. Some examples of these documents are the registered information in the Catastro del Marqués de la Ensenada (1752), the Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico (1844-1845) de Pascual Madoz, the essay Costumbres Comunales de Aliste (1900) by Santiago Méndez Plaza, and the book “Campos abiertos y campos cercados en Castilla la Vieja” (1966) de García Fernández, J.
The widespread poverty in the land was the deciding factor behind a product that could graze, feeding itself without any extra charge to the farmers. Eventually, the grazing livestock became the main source of sustenance for families as well as the economy.
The particular method of breeding, based on a low-cost system, is a result of natural geographic limitations, the social situation, and economic constraints.
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