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.|