Still in Search of Chorizo de Bilbao

My cousin Anne-Marie in BC sent me a link to a possible solution to my seemingly never-ending question for chorizo de bilbao.   In looking at the link she sent me and searching for further info, I came across this posting from Tomas Alcantara in the Philippines:

THE STORY OF CHORIZO DE BILBAO

All you guys interested in Chorizo de Bilbao, whether Marca El Rey or otherwise, should try to contact a certain Dr. Ricardo Soler who is a well-known personality in Manila and dabbles on the side in culinary activities.

He is the same person who wrote Reggie Aspiras to correct a report in her column in the Inquirer about the errors made by two famous Filipino chefs, Gene Gonzalez and Claude Tayag, who said kare-kare originated in Southeast Asian countries.

I don’t know him nor do I have any contact details but he seems to be the only one hereabouts who knows the facts behind the myths regarding some of our foods.

I read his comments on kare-kare and was really impressed. He explained that it had nothing to do with Southeast Asia but rather with the British occupation of Manila during the Spanish times. The British army of occupation consisted of Sepoys from India who introduced their own curry to the people of Cainta, Rizal and who did not go back with the British when they left. They married locals, which explains the dark features of the present inhabitants of Cainta. Anyway, when they ran out of the spices used in the original curry, they made a fusion of the dish using bagoong as the complimentary side dish to make up for the lack of the needed spices. This history is now recognized as the correct origin of kare kare which, Dr. Soler also attributes to the minting of such words as karinderia and karendera as well as karihan.

But to get back to chorizo, Dr. Soler has not written on this yet but a friend of his told a friend of mine that Dr. Soler says there is no such thing as Chorizo de Bilbao but that this was just the name given to chorizo produced in Manila by a certain Mr. Genato. Genato was also the one who made and sold Royal Macaroni and Spaghetti but apparently sold these two items, when he left for America during Martial Law, to a big local food producer who now makes and still sells them in America from where these are exported to the Philippines.

To ‘brand’ his chorizos, which were competing with other chorizos imported by Tabacalera, Genato, according to Dr. Soler’s friend who told my friend, decided to give them a distinct brand, Chorizo de Bilbao, the latter being the town in Spain his family was from and made the chorizos spicier by using more paprika or pimenton. He sold them in small packages but later canned them in a green one-gallon can with a gold-colored lid. He also used invented the name Marca El Rey and the logo of king and crown. This is still the classic can used for chorizo de Bilbao.

While in the States, Genato had a food company called Cudahy, based in Cudahy City in California produce and can his Chorizos de Bilbao Marca El Rey in his classic green can. He realized that the Filipino market would patronize his product and indeed these made great sales in California’s Filipino and Oriental food stores. Soler does not say whether Genato sold the rights to Cudahy but this may be the case, in my personal opinion. You see, Soler said that the Cudahy company was later bought by an affiliate based in Illinois, which continued producing the chorizos Marca El Rey in the classic can.

This is my own idea – It may be that the latter company was bought by the company that you guys say now produces the Chorizo de Bilbao Marca El Rey in the original can and with the original ingredients.

I have no doubt that Dr. Soler knows the facts and because of this, I have discovered in the Internet that there are only two countries in the world where Chorizo de Bilbao, Marca El Rey or otherwise, exists, the US of A and the Philippines. To know for sure, check if anyone in this group knows of Dr. Soler and his address and contact the man.

Nov 13, 2008 | 12:25 pm

…from http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/chorizos-marca-el-rey-are-made-where

I thought for sure that it was made in Spain.  So glad I didn’t cave and buy those super-expensive chorizo sticks I’ve seen in local gourmet markets!

I don’t know if the link my cousin sent me for the chorizo is the same as what is written of above but I just may give it a whirl:

http://www.philamfood.com/SENOR-EL-REY-CHORIZO-DE-BILBAO-5OZ.html

 

My only reservation is that they added “Senor” to the name which makes me think it’s not the real deal.  *sigh*

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