I think I have been aware of Marca El Rey Chorizos (always referred to in these parts as Chorizo Bilbao) since I did the groceries for the household as a teenager, when my Mom or both of my parents were away on trips. You couldnâ€™t make paella or callos without them, you needed them for pesang manok or other brothy concoctions. They have a distinctive taste, a very dense meat and a shockingly red color. I always assumed they were from Spain. In fact, I NEVER EVER thought to look too closely at the packaging. There is a good excuse for that â€“ they usually came in huge green cans in a distinctive dark, olivey green with gold lettering and a King with a golden crown as their logo. We only used to buy one or two pieces at a time so I never closely inspected the can. They were expensive. They were considered the SECRET ingredient. A must have for the savvy local cook. I suppose I would not have been surprised if they were Mexican but I just assumed they were Spanishâ€¦
My wife asked me to look at the packaging closely the next time I ran across the can. Yesterday, at Cash & Carry which was bursting with cans of chorizos, I read the labels. At PHP1,620 a can or USD30, they seemed like a bit too much in volume and value to buy for a home kitchen, but they also had vacuum sealed portions (2 chorizos) at roughly 5 oz. total weight so I got some of those at PHP165 a pack. Hello!!! the stuff is made by ConAgra foods in NEBRASKA!!! Yikes, who would have thought? So many folks abroad have asked me where to buy these or what a substitute might be and here they are, made right in the Northern plains of the USA! I looked up ConAgra Foods corporate website and they also own other well-known brands such as Huntâ€™s, Orville Redenbacherâ€™s, Peter Pan, Swiss Miss, Wesson, Healthy choice, National Hebrew and Van Campâ€™s but oddly does NOT list Marca El Rey as a brand they ownâ€¦ hmmm, I wonder why. At any rate, if you want a bizarre food pasalubong from the Philippines you can ask your relatives to bring you vacuum packed Chorizos Marca El Rey and have them tell the officious U.S. customs officer â€œBut Sir, theyâ€™re made in Nebraskaâ€¦â€ Heeheehee.