Gastronomy of Galicia; a new way to discover our land

zamburiñas Galicia 1

You probably already know it. Otherwise you’ll discover it as soon as you’ll put your feet down on the Galician territory: here we eat very much and well. In fact, gastronomy is one of the major attractions of Galicia, where the visitor is received with a table full of flavours and varied high quality products. In this way one of the best indicators of the passion of this land for good food and wine are the thousand gastronomic festivals that are held from north to south that pay homage to the most renowned products (octopus, turnip tops, wine, cheese…) and also the most unique: sea urchin, conger eel, pig nails, pumpkin or swordfish.

Undoubtedly shellfish is one of the flagship products of our gastronomy. It could not be otherwise bearing in mind that Galicia has always been facing the sea and has 1.300 km of coastline where cliffs lashed by the rougher waves of Europe give way to the placid waters of our estuaries. This combination of factors results in unique ecosystems that supply the more demanding gastronomic markets. More than 80 kinds of fish and a wide range of shellfish emerge from our sea: spider crabs, lubrigantes, zamburiñas, prawns, oysters, small crabs, clams, mussels, razor shells…

If you still don’t know how to celebrate your arrival to Obradoiro, we suggest you to do it with a good seafood platter. If budget allows (they’re really expensive), don’t miss out the barnacles; a true culinary treasure of our sea. Their price is justified as they are extracted by hand from the rock where percebeiros fight the waves and constantly risk their lives. We also recommend you to try two other traditional dishes with easy elaborations but exquisite flavour: Galician-style cod and hake that are fully cooked, with a sauté served with “cachelos” (potatoes). Of course it goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave without trying at least a portion of pulpo “á feira” in its wood plate seasoned wih olive oil, sea salt and paprika.

percebeiros Galicia

Galicia has always been characterized by the dichotomy between the coast and inland, two completely different worlds that have equally marked the development of the region and, as could not be otherwise its gastronomy. Hence, if the sea provides such delicacies, also the land offers quality products translated into tasty meals. As the great majority of pilgrimage routes pass through the inland, you’ll have many opportunities of trying the gastronomy of each region, where you’ll never miss pork meat and Galician beef, produced by a local breed with designation of origin.

One of the most well known dishes is the ham with turnip tops that is common to all Galicia. As its name states it’s made of shoulder of pork, turnip tops, boiled potatoes and chorizo. Another similar dish but much more complete is the Galician stew (cocido gallego). They are both typical plates from carnival, although you’ll be able to enjoy these at any time of the year. However you’ll eat it accompanied with season vegetables, because turnip tops only grow for a couple of months at the end of winter. Those passing through the centre and south of Lugo must try the “botelo” and the “androlla”, delicious cold meat filled with roast pork diced in very small pieces, previously marinated with paprika, salt and garlic. Usually bones are added and it is stuffed into a large intestine then to be cured and smoked.

These recipes are those most appreciated with a good glass of wine and a good piece of bread. This is why Galicia is the perfect place to be. The artisan Galicia bread, valued and recognised throughout Spain for its quality, is much more than an accompaniment; it has its own identity. The most popular varieties have kept the traditional morphology and taste despite the modernisation of the processes. You probably already know the now famous pan de Cea (bread of Cea), and possibly the bread of Carral, Ousá or from Neda too. The success of all these breads is based on the raw materials used (Galician wheat), the water quality, the larger time of fermentation and cooking, where stone and wood ovens are used in many occasions.

empanada galicia

Also related to the bread is the Galician pie known as the empanada, a product that is never missing when a party or family meal is celebrated. It usually has a round shape and is served as an appetizer or a starter. It is practically impossible not to find it in the first suggestions of the restaurant and hostels menu. It is stuffed with different ingredients, previously cooked, in between two layers of dough and then it’s baked in the oven. The most typical are made of meat, tuna or cod, although in this case the recipe leaves wide room to your imagination when creating the filling: zamburiñas, mussels, chicken with mushrooms, peppers, chorizo and cheese, apple…

Cheer up! We haven’t reached the dessert yet! We know that your stomach is full but you can’t miss some of our typical desserts. The filloas (a kind of crepe sweet or salty) are part of these desserts, a really simple recipe prepared with water or milk, eggs and flour that has its origins in the Roman times. These can be accompanied with honey, quince jelly or jam, chocolate and even cream. Among the most popular cakes are the tarta de Santiago (Santiago cake), made with finely ground almonds, and the Mondoñedo cake (Lugo), made with pastry, dried fruits and crystallised fruits; both very requested even outside of Galicia. Besides the actual sweets you can never waive to a fresh or maturated cheese that can also be eaten as an appetizer, snack or dessert in the latter case it is usually accompanied by quince jelly.

As you may already know gastronomy isn’t just about eating but also enjoying it from the knowledge that we have about the products we have in our plate and the way they were cooked. When travelling it’s not always easy to access this other side of the kitchen where, and it’s never been said better, the most important part is cooked up. Galician Roots gives you the opportunity to enjoy a real immersion in the Galician gastronomy through a series of demonstrative and practical workshops that will bring you closer to the elaboration of some of our most popular dishes such as the pulpo (octopus), shellfish, empanada (Galicia pie), bread or typical desserts.

Buen camino and bon appétit!

Tarta de Santiago

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