Book VI, Chapter XXVI
Where I write about a notable fact worthy of being put in this book, so as to better understand the abundance of meat in this Island of Hispaniola and the ordinary beef that is slaughtered daily in these parts.
Translated by Sofia Rodas ’20
The year is 1548 and the city of Santo Domingo has fewer than six-hundred neighbors. At one point it had a larger population, but it had never been as developed or urbanized. And despite it having such a small population, every day forty heads of steer and cows are slaughtered and weighed in the slaughterhouse. When you add the meat from the market it amounts to fifty heads of cattle from day to day, with each arrelde worth two maravedís (an arrelde is two sixteen-ounce pounds). In this city, they kill and eat thirty to thirty-five rams daily, valued at sixteen maravedis an arrelde. They kill and weigh twenty calves at the same price every day. They also kill and weigh ten to twelve pigs daily at twenty maravedis an arrelde. In all, 117 heads of these four types of cattle are killed daily, some days even more. No town in Spain, no matter its size, consumes as much cattle as this island. And as is recorded elsewhere in history, a great quantity of beef cattle is killed and speared on the fields, letting the meat go bad. This is done to reap the hides and take them to Spain and to take advantage of the tallow.