This is a guest blog post by Allison Brauer, a foodie in Europe. You can hear Allison narrate the post in the Spain Uncovered episode Craig Briggs and Rural Galicia. Allison has also contributed to Episode 14, where she talks about ‘gazpacho’ and Episode 13, where she talks about ‘horchata’. Check out the post The Only Drink You Need for Summer in Spain in her own blog.
For the last part of the Spanish Food mini series, we are going to the Northwest corner of Spain to the small autonomous community of Galicia. Galicia has a wet climate and over 1,300 kilometers of rocky coastline.
The main money maker in Galicia is fish and seafood production which brings in about 1.1 billion Euros a year. Last year almost 160,000 tons of product were caught in the waters off Galicia. Europe relies on the small town of Vigo for a lot of its seafood. The port there is considered Europe’s main fishing port.
All types of fish and seafood are produced in Galicia. Most popular are gooseneck barnacles, oysters, scallops, mussels, clams, razor clams, heart clams, Norway lobster, octopus, turbot, and sardines among many, many others.
Pulpo a la gallega or Galician Octopus is a tapa that is a favorite all over Spain. It uses octopus from Galicia that is pounded to make it tender, and then cooked whole. When finished it is cut into small pieces, seasoned with Spanish paprika and served with olive oil.
Inland Galicia is famous for its white potatoes which star in the famous stew cocido gallego. Pimientos de padrón are also from the region. They are small green peppers which are quickly fried in olive oil and served with sea salt. Most are sweet but you might get a surprise when you bite into one of the few spicy ones. They are a hugely popular tapa all over the country.
Galician beef is also a favorite for many people. The cows are usually raised on family farms, fed a high quality diet and slaughtered when they are very young so the meat stays really tender. Their beef comes exclusively from the Rubia Gallega breed of cows.
Most of the cows are grown for their meat, but Galician cow milk cheese is also a favorite all over the country. Tetilla cheese is one of the four cheeses from Galicia that has a Protected Designation of Origin recognition, which means that Spain and the European Union regulate the quality and geographical origin of the product. Tetilla means little breast and is called this because the cheese comes in a small cone shape. It is a semi soft cheese with a buttery and slightly tangy taste.
Galicia has 5 Designation of Origin recognitions for wines produced in the region. The Albariño wines from the Rias Baixas region have been gaining international acclaim in recent years. Albariño wines are fruity and sweet and best served with fish.
For the harder alcohol fans, a spirit called orujo is produced in Galicia. It is made from the leftovers of wine production (grape seeds, stems and peels). It is front and center in the warm drink queimada, which is made by mixing lemon peel, sugar and ground coffee in a clay pot. Orujo is poured over the ingredients and the whole thing is lit on fire. It’s great for a cold winter night.
Spain has delicious regional cuisines all over the country. But, if you are looking for incredibly fresh seafood and warm comfort food, Galicia should be top on your list.
Pulpo a la gallega photo credit: darioalvarez via photopin cc
Queso de tetilla photo credit: Rodrigo Encinas via photopin cc
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