Friday, February 17, 2012

Trying to embrace the food... key word: trying.

For those of you who know me, you know that I love good food. And here in Barcelona, I've been having a couple of hits, but plenty of misses. 

So I thought - maybe if I shift my perspective a bit, and start eating like a local, I might actually stumble upon something good.  Rather than getting frustrated that I can't find what I'm used to finding in that agricultural wonderland that is California... I should start playing with what's at hand. 

See these guys:
EUR 55,00 per Kilo!! most of which is shell and rock.
Percebes (aka Goose Barnacle).  I had never heard of them before, but I see them all the time at the Mercat Galvany.  They are these little tubular shellfish-y things that latch onto the undersides of rocks along some coastal parts of Spain & Portugal - where the waves come crashing in.  Very dangerous to harvest - hence the expensive price tag.  Some governing offices also want to ban this practice of harvesting due to the danger of the task.

Now I would never buy anything so expensive while clueless as to what to do with them.  Especially since I don't like shellfish all that much to begin with.  But my friend Patty (who's an incredibly good cook) served them up last week for her birthday dinner. 

You eat them cold, like crab legs (which she also served).  hold the little "goose barnacle" at one end and then you pinch just below the grey claw-like part and then pull the sleeve off.  what you're left with is the edible part - which is at most one inch long by a quarter inch in diameter - it's TINY.  And very SALTY. 

Worth the price tag?  I'll pass.  Give me lamb, foie, anything dreamed up by this man... I'll skip the percebes.  and the crab legs. 

My recent attempt at cooking with local flavor was a recipe given to me by one of my English students:  "Sepia estilo Vinaroz"- a Fisherman stew using Sepia (squid - larger than calamari - 1 kilo each), potatoes, toasted bread, and chocolate!!!???!!!  I'd learned how to clean calamari while working at Ludobites - but this sepia was too much to deal with.  I didn't enjoy preparing it.  The finished product was kinda odd - but I don't know if it's because I made it wrong, or that's just how it's supposed to taste. 

Have I had some good meals here?  yes.
And if you love seafood, cured pork products and potatoes, you'll love Spanish food.

As for veggie lovers like myself, well, I just need to get more inventive with what I see.

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