The techniques for preserving hams and preparing embutidos (cured, dry sausages) provided the different areas in the mountains of Andalusia with a major source of food throughout the year given that until recently their economies were highly self-sufficient owing to the difficulties in communication and the limited commercial development.
Although economic conditions in the mountain areas have changed, many families still maintain the tradition of killing pigs at home. Social anthropologists have shown that slaughter fulfils a symbolic, social, and economic function. The fact that the whole family comes together for the slaughter reinforces family ties and defines the family group within the village. On the other hand the division of labour during the pig sacrifice consolidates the roles of age and sex, as well as the status of each member in the extended family.