In Córdoba, Spain there´s a thing called the flamenquín that is pretty much impossible to miss. You will catch a glimpse of these long, deep-fried rods of meat dangling awkwardly off plates in every direction you look, whether you´re walking through the touristy alleyways of the Old City, the Jewish quarter or some airy plaza where locals also gather. They´re available on pretty much every menu as a tapa or plato (larger dish) and are usually served with french fries and some unnecessary iceberg lettuce that no one ends up eating.
Flamenquín was the first thing I tried in Córdoba on the first day of our 4-day backpacking trip through Andalucía. We had ours at a little place called Saavedra 5 Tapas not far from the famous Mezquita-Catédral, which we passed walking from the train station to our hostel. Our real reason for stopping here was to have a caña (little beer) or two, smoke a cigarette, wake up a bit after the 4 hour AVE from Barcelona and take a moment to enjoy the extremely powerful (even in March) Andalucían sunshine on our backs. So we sat on two stools outside, ordered two beers and planned the next few hours ahead of us. We ordered a flamenquín to share too, as it was one of the first items I wanted to check off my culinary bucket-list.
Shortly after the beers these basic little hotdogs came out, one for each of us. Two skinny little frankfurters shoved into doughy bread with some mix of ketchup and mayo squeezed over the top. We looked at each other, laughed and told the waiter that this is not what we had ordered. The joke was on us though, as we had forgotten that this is Andalucía, the land of free beer-side pica-pica. We´d get used to this concept pretty quickly. Every time you order a beer, you get a little something with it. Most of the time it´s olives. This time it was little wiener dogs. They weren´t that great but – hey – who cares! It´s the thought that counts.
And then our flamenquín came, a strapping 6-incher, slightly less monstrous in size as the ones I saw passing through the city.
The dish consists of a slice of pork loin wrapped around Serrano ham, coated with egg and bread crumbs and then deep fried until golden brown and crunchy. There are several stories about where the name of the dish came from (the erect and elegant neck of a flamingo bird; a male flamenco dancer; a “little Flemish” boy with blond hair similar to the color of the fried breadcrumbs), but sources all seem to agree that it is specifically a Cordobés dish.
Ours was great with the cold cañas under the hot sun. The crunchy, grainy crust gave way to tender and well seasoned pork meat and a bit of extra salt and funk added by the dry-cured ham. As we cut into it the juices of the meat squirted out pleasantly, leaving us with steamy hot and moist bites of pork. We were slightly disappointed that this flamenquín had no melted cheese oozing out, and it was only after that we learned that this ingredient was not a crucial element of the flamenquín (as it is in the case if the sanjacobo we would try later). Nevertheless, a fantastic first (and very hungry) bite of Andalucía.