Galicia, the Land of the Octopus

Tucked into the far west coast of Spain, nestled right above Portugal and out of the way of just about everything is the community of Galicia. It’s well-known for many things: like the Camino de Santiago, a popular pilgrimage across Spain, its dramatically green landscapes, and the seafood.

I jaunted up to Vigo, the largest city in Galicia, to visit a friend with only one thought in my mind: give me some octopus. Because Galicia is gifted with an extensive coastline, their waters are filled with all sorts of fish and octopi.

Octopi, known in Spanish as pulpo, are plucked right from the water which both fascinates and horrifies me (I’ve always harbored an irrational fear of these beasts… it’s either the tentacles or the bulbous head, I’m not sure). But I had tried pulpo a la gallega before (the traditional way it is prepared here), and I was eager to taste the real deal.

 

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A wild octopus has appeared!

We went to a great spot in Vigo called Peregrinos and ordered the lunch special, which included bread, octopus, a plate of barbecued meat, and dessert for a whopping 10 euros. In every self-respecting octopi place, there is a pulpero. This is a man whose only job is to cook the octopus and he stands next to a gigantic metal pot for hours with an equally gigantic wooden spoon. His masterpiece, pulpo a la gallega, is delicious and so simple it seems like a trick. Besides the octopus, there are only three ingredients: olive oil, salt, and paprika.

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~Pulpooo~

I was in heaven.

And if pulpo wasn’t enough, our next feast took us to a wedding reception venue/vineyard/idyllic fairyland.

Let me explain.

In the neighboring town to Vigo, named Redondela, there is the tradition of the furancho. These are essentially personal homes and vineyards opened up to the public for food, drink, and general merriment.

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El furancho

 

The furancho we went to was absolutely stunning. There were tables were set up beneath enormous magnolia trees outfitted with hanging lanterns. Children frolicked in the lush green grass and played in the fountains of water. The golden light of the setting sun shone through the rows of grapevines.

For dinner, we ordered a tortilla de patatas made with fresh eggs, a plate of Spanish ham and cheese, and a corn empanada made with veggies and scallops. And if that wasn’t enough, we finished off the meal with Albariño (sweet Galician white wine) and cheese with cubes of fruit jam.

 

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Cheesin’ (with membrillo)

In Spain, eating is an event. It is not a chore to be rushed through or, heaven forbid, skipped. The Galicians definitely know how to enjoy a good meal… in fact, they’re known throughout Spain for their appetites!

Sitting that afternoon in the furnacho, enjoying the good company and good food, I got a taste of the Galician life. Sometimes you just need to savor the simple pleasures of a cool glass of wine, the sunset, and a nice piece of cheese.

So when you’re planning your trip to Galicia, make sure to bring your hollow leg. ¡Buen provecho! 😉

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