In order to understand the rules that dominate the gastronomic calendar, we need to understand the breeding cycles of the animals and birds destined for the table. The Glorious Twelfth (of August) may be the best known as the opening of the grouse season, and down here we all know that sardines are best when there is no letter r in the month. But why is this the time of year when chivito (baby goat) is at its best? Cochinillo (suckling pig) is eaten year-round, and there is a restaurant in Benahavís that sells industrial quantities, but those who appreciate chivito have to be more patient.
Although goat is apparently a great favourite of the West Indian community, normally stewed and of any age, cabrito is a favourite in Portugal, Italy and Greece, as well as Spain.
Understandably there are people who shy away from eating any animal that has been killed a few weeks after birth, but the reality is that male goats do not give milk so are killed anyway, usually as soon as they are born, so what is the difference? The business of goat milk, yoghurt, et al, has moved into the big time, so a male animal’s value is only as meat.
If queasiness is not a factor (you don’t of course eat any meat, do you?) then sit back and enjoy it. The strangely-named La Sociedad restaurant in Canillas de Aceituno, north of Malaga, is the place to which pilgrimages are made, and allegedly hundreds of dishes are served every weekend.
Nearer home Marbella’s Alameda Restaurant in the San Cristóbal Hotel has a ‘Chivito Week’ every May, and although shockingly under-promoted, is a sell-out for the five days it runs from 16th to 20th.
The special menu features every sort of goat-sourced dish. Kidneys, cheese, pate, roast leg, stewed shoulder, chops, indeed most parts of the animal are utilised, and all at a price anyone can afford. Be careful though, as from memory the servings are not small, and the house red wine is excellent value.