LAND OF LONGANIZA
Sausage- a food made from ground meat, salt, herbs and other ingredients that have been traditionally stuffed into casing made from intestines- is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous foods on the planet. It can be found everywhere and in great variety and abundance. Germany alone is said to have 1,200 different kinds of sausages!
Longaniza is a sausage long associated with Orocovis and has a long history and pedigree. The original was from Lucania, an ancient district of southern Italy. Lucanica (sausage from Lucania) was considered the finest in the Roman Empire.
The name longaniza is applied today to a wide variety of fresh and cured sausages, especially in Spain and its former New World colonies. Local varieties can be found in many areas of Puerto Rico, but the best and most famous are made in Orocovis.
Why Orocovis? The tradition began sometime after 1934 when don Pedro Ortiz opened Colmade La Sombra and his wife dona Maria developed and served a recipe for longaniza that became a local legend. When don Pedro passed away in 1956, dona Maria raised their 14 children through her talents and hard work in the kitchen—her fame spread quickly.
In 1984, Jorge Luis and Alberto- two of the 14 children- took over the reins of La Sombra and expanded the restaurant and its menu. Today, a third generation of the Ortiz family serves dona Maria’s original pork recipe along with beef, chicken, turkey and fish versions to large crowds of fans.
Bar Restaurant La Sombra is a frequent stop for local residents who stock up on freshly made longanizaa and both the locals and visitors from all over the island come to feast on arroz con longaniza (rice with sausage) and other criollo specialties.
Because of the popularity and huge success, many restaurants in the area now feature longaniza and it is even celebrated in town festivals featuring the once- humble food. Thanks to dona Maria and her disciples, Orocovis has become the “land of the longaniza”.
©2011 Ronald C. Flores copied from Que Pasa magazine October-November 2011 issue