Friday, April 2, 2010

Fiestas and Ferias

Between the fiestas (festivals) and ferias (fairs) time swiftly passes.

Last Saturday we went to the wine festival in Sober, a town south of our area that each year shows off local wineries with wines from the Ribeira Sacra region. Several booths were set up inside a covered area for wine tastings, while a small brass band played area favorites on a raised platform. They reminded me so much of the band (and the music) in the wonderful film, La Lengua de la Maripos (The Tongue of the Butterfly -- a story based in Galicia during the rise of Franco).

Outside the tasting area kiosks and booths lined streets, selling everything from South American jewelry to local Galician black pottery and copper wares for distilling the aquardiente every home is proud of sharing. Aguardiente is a home-made brandy that is sometimes flavored with herbs or coffee, but in its true state is quite similar to the grappa of Italy. (Locals can distill these for home use only; it's illegal to sell them unless by a commercial company; but locals make it and share it as part of their hospitality.)

Tomorrow, Monforte will have it's Feria Medevial (Medieval Fair). Meanwhile, Monforte and surrounding villages also have regular fairs the locals attend regularly. These are much like flea markets in the States, and you can buy anything from bread to plants to wallets to clothing, as well as the pottery and copperware mentioned above. In addition, a tented area is always set up with tables and benches where one can eat the favorite dish of Galicia, "pulpo". Pulpo is octopus. The Galician way of fixing it is to make an herbed stew. We've only tried it once, and it didn't click with us. But our neighbors go to fairs specifically to enjoy pulpo and socialize with friends from other villages.

In better weather, we would have gone to Ourense, a large city south of Monforet, on the way to Portugal, or to Lugo, one of our favorite cities in Galicia. Lugo is encircled by a magnificent Roman wall with, I think, 17 arches. It also has a Celtic past, and the name in fact goes back to the Celtic God of Light, Lugh. There's a museum with historical relics and some wonderful paintings. We'll probably visit both these places next time, but for now, the weather has kept us indoors a lot, either enjoying long lunches with friends or enjoying the books they've loaned us.

And we spend long intervals at our galeria window looking out on the ever-shifting scenery. The weather is such that the view is constantly changing and ever a vista of beauty.

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