Postcard from... Spain


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The Independent Online


Every autumn in Spain's rural communities, the slaughter of a family's pig and the subsequent curing, stuffing, smoking and processing of the pork into different types of meat is a centuries-old tradition. In the village of Retuerta de Bullaque in the central province of Ciudad Real, one family, the Asensios, have had their own particular custom since 1980: using a heavy, metallic object they found lying in a nearby field to press the ham during the curing process.

However, what the Asensios thought for decades was a remnant of the Spanish Civil War turns out to be a lot older. Their "ham-presser" is, it turns out, a meteorite that fell in Spain hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Given its exceptionally heavy weight (100kg) and comparatively small size (45 x 31 x 20cm), the meteorite had been ideal for its adopted purpose. But recently, when Faustino Asensio was watching a television programme on extra-terrestrial objects and saw some had similarities with his ham-presser, he contacted Spain's National Geological Institute. They confirmed that it was indeed a meteorite and part of it is now on display in a Madrid museum.

"We always called it 'the meteorite' as a joke, but we didn't think it really was one," a family member said.