By The History Man
Saturday, May 28, 2022 @ 3:08 PM
The exquisite ´serranito´ from Ronda is thirty years old. Inventor Benito González managed to make this tapa a culinary masterpiece, using pork fillet, serrano ham, green peppers and ripe tomatoes fresh from the garden.
In 1974, when Tobalo González opened ´Bar Benito´, in the popular San Francisco neighbourhood of Ronda, it was not very common for customers to ask for a tapa. “Here the farmworkers and the builders’ labourers came and ordered a coffee, a brandy or a glass of wine, but nobody asked for anything to eat,” he said.But over the years everything changed. His son Benito took over the bar and prepared a complete tapas menu, including ham, cheese, fried fish, scrambled eggs and other delicious delicacies from the Ronda region.
Things worked well and the tables were filled daily with people keen to eat the best produce from the gardens and farms in the area. But as with everything, you have to keep looking for new ideas.One day in 1990, Benito was eating in a restaurant in Sevilla and they gave him a plate of steaks, fried peppers, tomato and several slices of ham. As you would expect, it was very tasty and then the idea occurred to him: “What if I put all this in a bread roll and offer it as a tapa?”
No sooner said than done. As soon as the first ones were put on sale, they were a hit immediately and customers began to demand what became known as the ´serranito´, a complete and very reasonably-priced tapa, bearing in mind that they normally cost around 1.50 euros.In the hot summer months, Benito shifted up to 400 serranitos a week and there were even tourists who had heard about it and came to try it. In addition, the tapa spread to most of the bars in Ronda and to many bars and restaurants throughout Andalucía.
But to prepare a good serranito you have to bear in mind several important things. First, that the fillet must be from the pork loin; then, that the oil must be virgin olive oil and, in addition, the tomatoes must be just ripe. Finally, if the pepper comes from the fields at the bottom of the Tajo, so much the better. Another thing to bear in mind when preparing an authentic serranito is to use a good quality bread roll baked in Ronda.
Author’s note: When I first came to Ronda in 2001, having bought a little flat in the Barrio San Francisco, I introduced myself as a new vecino in the Bar Benito. I was given such a warm welcome by Benito and his regular customers that it became my local whenever I was in town. Sadly it is now closed.