F is for Food

View from a rockThere are three things which really matter in Galicia, in no particular order: Land, family, and food.  Not just food food, but Lots of food. Pantries needing to be stocked to the brim lots of food.

Some say this obsession with surplus, especially from the older generation, stems from when people genuinely were hungry. According to villager J there were times when they were so famished, they used any meat they could find for the chorizo. “Even cats.” he always tells me. I must add here that Village J likes to wind me up.

Nowadays the average villager has enough chorizo, hams and potatoes to not only feed their own extended families, but an orphanage or two.

There are Galician dishes which I still, after having lived here for 7 years, haven’t tried. Callos for instance. The name certainly sounds better than what it actually is: boiled stomach.

I’ve cleaned guts as well as stomach after slaughter and I don’t mind eating chorizo made from real guts, even though I know that those guts actually had poo in them because I took it out,  but somehow I can’t stomach stomach.

Another delicacy is entrete, I have absolutely no idea how you spell this, but that’s what it sounds like.  It is the membrane which holds the small pig intestines together.  A friend of mine always asks me to come round on slaughter day because it’s a tricky job to separate and you need to know how to do it.  And then his wife cuts it into pieces and fries it.  Brave as I was, I did try it one year and it tasted positively of poo with a bile aftertaste.

But one of the most famous dishes of this area is pulpo, boiled octopus. I don’t mind boiled squid, but I find boiled octopus disconcerting. Beautiful colors to look at, but to eat.. It’s the smell actually that makes me feel a bit squeamish.

When it’s market day in town there are octopus stalls everywhere.

If it was in a fishers’ village it might be picturesque, but the stench of boiled octopus makes the town even uglier. And when it rains… you can actually see the stench: eight armed, ghostly, clinging to the soggy concrete.

And for those of you thinking soggy concrete is impossible, that’s just because you’ve never been in a Galician Town during rain season.

Me personally…I prefer Cocido: vegetables with meat and potatoes. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but stewed over a wood fire it actually is. I have no idea why food tastes different when prepared over a wood fire, but it just does. Especially when you’ve been all day in the forest cutting wood for the fire.

By the time you’ve finally got the fire going you’re so famished that anything tastes great…



11 thoughts on “F is for Food

  1. My daughter is 18 and an athlete and she loves food. She is a swimmer since age 7 and then swim team. In school she calculated her calories and said she was eating 6000 a day! I said, yes, but that is because it’s swim season and you are swimming 3 to 5 miles daily! I love to cook for her…..

  2. Callos are delicious – here callos are made with chorizo & garbanzos and the tripe gives it a really delicious flavour – I will add that the now 8yo youngest girl loves callos but NEVER actually eats the spongy honeycomb looking bits…. (Neither do I, the texture is horrible!)

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