Food of Galicia

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Mon 11 Aug 2008 09:43
Food of Galicia
 
Because of the rugged landscape and rough weather the people of Galicia use every bit of what they grow or catch. Many farms are only 1 or 2 acres and have been passed down through families for generations.
 
The national dish is Octopus which they freeze or beat first (Bear says i'm not allowed my own hammer on board - way too dangerous ) to reduce the boiling time to an hour. The boiled, cubed octopus is then served with boiled potatoes, Olive Oil and sprinkled with Sweet Spanish Paprika.
 
   
 
When I saw this octopus on show in the window of many restaurants ( they like you to point to the one you fancy, my finger stays firmly in my pocket-how anyone can fancy that is beyond me ), I honestly thought they were plastic examples, I was soon put right. I got Bear to put his finger against the suckers, the mere thought of chewing through that put the skipper well and truly on his own.
Lobster, Cray Fish and Crab are huge and in ready supply. We saw a fisherman at sea dropping lobster pots by the hundred at measured rope lengths apart, with only one marker buoy. Little did we realise when we have seen an odd marker in the past, what was below. Of course Bear's COMMENT was predictable "a pretty bad day if you forget where you put it after a long night or a row with her indoors". 
 
The most famous dish in Galicia is Lacon Con Grelos, the boiled meat from the front leg of the pig, and Grelos being the leaves of the turnip. These once boiled are served with sausage and potatoes.
 
Limia is an area famous for its Potatoes (wonderful).
 
Galician Broth is a very common dish of cabbage, potato and beans. Often served with ham, sausage and pork to make a filling stew.
 
   
 
The Galician's will eat any fish. You can choose by teeth or eyes if you want the cuter looking dish. This area ate seventy pounds of fish per person in the year 2001, the rest of the EU ate fifteen pounds.
When my mum was young she sat on the fourth stair and ate rice pudding while the rest of the family ate fish on Friday, the only day of the week, just like so many other households. I reckon in Spain she would have spent her life on the fourth stair and possibly got fed up with rice pudding?
I got put off an awful lot, every Friday when you arrived at school the smell was enough to make you nauseous to say the very least. You knew that coley, not filleted was going to be served with mash and cauliflower. Did the nuns do it on purpose, who in their right mind would serve a pure white meal that smelt ghastly ??? To this day I only really like plaice and skate because you don't have all those splinters to deal with, when I see Bear sifting out all the little bones I shudder and it takes me right back into school uniform.
 
                        
 
Veal, Rabbit, Pork, Beef, Brains, Liver, Turkey, and Chicken are all meats we have seen on menus and readily available in the supermarkets. We don't know what health and safety would make of raw meat being on the shelf above the fish in this window with the sun beating on it ??? If you can't read Spanish you can always point it out on a picture board.
I may not like the stuff but I know a man who loves it, so I prepare and cook it for him like a good first mate should. The feeling of this is to hard to describe without serious expletives, I'll leave it to the reader to guess what I was muttering all the while I had this in my mitts. However if it was still moving - - - -  that and what with the size of their razor-sharp beaks, if I ever catch one I will just cut my line, end of story.  I got the lady who served me to understand what I felt and pointed to Bear, she threw her head back and really laughed hard.
 
Jamon Serrano (mountain ham) is cured for at least a year and is served with Olives and Cheese. It is similar to Italian Prosciutti. (Jamon Iberico is much more expensive and entirely different, this ham has been a delicacy since the Roman Empire).
The whole village get together for the cull of mainly "Landrace" white breed of pig, the fresh hams are cleaned, trimmed, stacked and salted to remove excess moisture, left for two weeks, washed and hung to dry for six months. Finally the hams are hung in a secaderos or drying shed (built on higher elevations, therefore "mountain ham") which is a cool, dry environment and left for six to eighteen months depending on the climate. A ham man goes and sticks a long needle into each ham and sniffs, rather like a cheese or wine taster to declare when they are ready. Highly amusing if you think about "sell by dates"
 
Tiny peppers called Pimientos de Pardon are considered a delicacy, fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Many tourists get the taste and take loads of the peppers home with them.
 
The Galatians' will eat anything from the sea. Scallops ( the shells are worn by pilgrims on The Way of St James ) are most abundant. Mussels which are huge in this area are seen hanging in scores under every pontoon and rock pool. Oysters, Razor Shell Clams, Heart Clams are just a few of the shellfish we have seen. ( All shells are ground to be used as fertiliser ). Goose Neck Barnacles which look like stubby brown worms are very popular. Prawns and Shrimps are also easy and cheap to get hold of.
 
COMMENT. The first time I was ever given an olive was in Cyprus in nineteen eighty, I was told "it is as sweet as a grape". I put this big green olive in my mouth and the explosion of greasy salt has left me scarred for life. Knowing I will "have to be big" as I get nearer the Caribbean and further from meat and three veg, I tried a tiny bit with the same result. Bear doesn't mind, its the one thing he keeps to himself and knows not to offer me. On that same trip to Cyprus I did get the taste for Parma Ham served with fine cut Mozzarella and huge chunks of  Water Melon. Most days I have that for brunch. Bear has chunks of bread with Pate (another one of my pet hates). 
 
   
 
How can you think about kissing a man who just eaten this. My serving of his crab, and my edition of Paella (amazingly tasty variety of fish and shellfish -yum yum). You will now know that Bear's input will be in italics from now on. Paella is on every menu you see, This famous and commonly served dish has just about anything chucked in that is vaguely edible.
 
The Spanish can certainly make excellent cakes. The most famous is:
St James Cake ( Tartar de Santiago ) is a rich heavy cake of ground almonds decorated with icing sugar with a plain cross or The Cross of St James. It is not known where the recipe originated but it was brought to Santiago by one of the pilgrims.
 
   
 
Skipper trotting along with his afternoon cake, beautifully wrapped with stubby cocktail sticks to support the paper. The present, unwrapped, cost three euros sixty, not a cheap treat, so only now and again.
 
This wander through the foods of Galicia is by no means it, I haven't mentioned the Sauces they are so famous for, I have just gone through what we have seen and experienced as a cruising couple, Big Bear has been on his own in trying. I thought I was really brave trying a smidging of his Mackerel, for heavens sake !!!!!!!!