My love for chorizo started when I was very young in the Basque country of Spain. When I was eight years old my mother sent me to spend my summer vacation at my Aunt Paquita’s farm in the little town of Ciriano or Ziriano on the outskirts of the city of Vitoria, to get me off the streets of Madrid and "become a man" as my mother used to say.
Over there, everybody had to work so I became the official shepherd of the farm, taking care of nine cows and several pigs. Those pigs were treated like kings, eating the best food, even leftovers and scraps from our plates, in order to obtain the best possible tasting meat from them on Saint Martin’s Day, a traditional day to slaughter pigs. The combination of that pork and Tia Paquita’s ingredients passed on to her from previous generations, made the best tasting chorizo I had ever had in my short life.
Being an immigrant in America was a new and difficult experience for me. Certainly it was hard enough to be able to understand this new language not having a job nor my Spanish family and friends around me but what I could not tolerate was to give up my favorite dishes and food from Spain.
So, in order to feel my country closer to me and probably subconsciously remembering those days of happiness and abundance at Aunt Paquita’s farm I decided that chorizo was going to be a part of my new life. I did not need to move far from home to find my neighbor, "John Salchert", who was also the owner of the famous “Bernie’s” butcher shop in the village of Port Washington, Wisconsin. He is a great person and was very patient with me until we were able to create a pretty good version of the real thing. John made chorizo for my new American family and me for years and I am thankful for that.
Now, my wife and children and our friends have learned to love chorizo and in no time I have started receiving orders and orders from everyone to the point that my wheels started spinning at the possibility of starting my own sausage company. So, last summer, fishing for pan fish at the beautiful lake of Spring Lake in the town of Random Lake with my good friend Edgar Perez from Guatemala, one of those true aficionados of chorizo, we decided to start our own chorizo company together. The first thing I did was to spend many hours on the phone talking to my aunt Paquita and other relatives and friends in Spain in order to create here in Wisconsin the truly best home-style chorizo ever.
When Edgar and I were thinking about how to name our company, the name Tía Paquita came to us naturally. I know aunt Paquita probably shed a few tears of joy, when a few months ago, I sent her a Christmas card with her name heading the company’s logo. I am sure she cracks a smile every time she thinks about it.
Well to make a long story short, once my partner Edgar and I, finished all of the paper work, and saw all of the people we needed to see, I sadly had to leave my sausage maker "John" and go with a bigger butcher. Asking around, Mr. Daniel O’Neil from the University of Milwaukee County Ozaukee County extension directed me to one, if not the best, quality sausage in the area "Kewauskum Frozen Foods." I called "Bob", the owner, and he received me and my ideas with open arms. "Bob", and "Allan", the sausage manager, have suffered through my manic pursuit of perfection and adjustments in the recipe. I am very thankful for Allan’s infinite patience and for the outstanding chorizo that we have created; "the first true chorizo created in the state of Wisconsin", as far as I know.
Now after a few months I can say that I got it! Here is the fresh and the smoked chorizo of my younger days. All that is left for the people of Milwaukee and Wisconsin is to learn about this sausage and to enjoy chorizo as much as we do in Spain.