Jaime is from Santiago de Compostela, a small city in northwestern Spain to which people make pilgrimages. Did you see the Emilio Estevez movie The Way? That small city. There's a lot to write about Santiago, but I'll stick to the cuisine about which I knew nothing before we got off the plane and know only the slightest amount more after 36 hours.
1. A specialty here is octopus, which is called pulpo. I think pulpo sounds more delicious than octopus. Yesterday, Jaime took us to his favorite pulpo place -- dark, with stone walls, felt medieval -- for a midday snack. Sitting in a plate of oil and topped with paprika and salt, the chunks of pulpo were as tender as scallops. Superlatives apply.
|brave boys, lucky boys
3. Jaime's parents live on an idyllic little farm in the countryside just outside Santiago and they hosted us for Easter. Fruit trees in full flower, camellias, rhododendrons, a pool, a wisteria arbor, grape vines which produce the grapes from which Jaime's father makes wine, etc. I mean, this is Frances Mayes material. The meal, prepared by Jaime's mother, began with his father's special sherry and ended with coffee spiked with a neighbor's homemade aguardiente. In between there was wine. But it wasn't at all drunk-making because it was served in such modest portions and with food.
To start, there were big rectangular empanadas, one filled with tuna, one with tiny, tiny scallops.
|I think I could make this.
|I'm not sure I could make this.
|We really overdo the chocolate in the U.S.
Over lunch, Jaime's parents were enthusing about a Galician specialty called lampreia, a parasitic eel-like creature that is cooked in a sauce of its own blood and various other ingredients, like chocolate. To quote the blogger whose account I just read and linked to: "There is something tribal and somewhat barbaric about eating lampreia. Faced with lampreia in blood sauce you should earn a medal just for trying it. This ominous looking dish is not dissimilar to a rattlesnake cooked in squid ink. It has the texture of monkfish and the livery funk of grilled shad roe."
I don't know. Maybe if we stumble across it, I'll try it. But I'm not going to bring it up.
|I think they're too old for the Easter bunny, but he doesn't.