Monday, October 6, 2014

Having Pulpo at the Feria in Monforte

A plate full of pulpo. You eat it with
toothpicks, bite by bite. Then you
break off chunks of crusty bread and
sop up the spiced olive oil. Yum!

Our wonderful neighbor,
Today, despite the fact that it's nearly two weeks since our return from Portugal, I had every intention of writing a post about Fado, the Portuguese art form of song we both love so much, to be followed by a later post mid-week about the photography festival we attended when we were in Braga Portugal.

But then our neighbor across the lane from us treated us to pulpo at the feria in Monforte, 20 minutes away from our village, and, as usual, we were enthusiastically swept away. (This is the neighbor who keeps sheep, and sometimes in the mornings, we awaken to their soft bleating.) Off we went, my Fado post tabled for another day.

Pulpo is octupus, boiled, cut in small pieces, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pimiento - which in this area, means hot red pepper. All of our neighbors simply love pulpo, and their enthusiasm has been contagious. Though vegetarians, we do eat pescados and mariscos (fish and seafood), but octopus was a new experience for us. When done right, meaning boiled long enough, it comes out moist and tender and just delicious. It is served at long tables, in special buildings at all the fair grounds, and one of the servers comes around with a bottle of the house red wine and a loaf of fresh bread to go with it.

The woman boiling this pulpo
 is the neighbor of a woman in
Turiz, Melucha, whom we met
years ago when she was walking
  her cows down the road to graze.
The people in these neighboring
villages all know each other, so
Miguel was able to tell us this.

Rajan, adding his touch. We
actually see this woman and
another (who is distantly re-
lated to Miguel), at ferias in
the other villages, since the
market days in the villages
fall on different days. 

One of the long tables set up for this
event. For those who don't like pulpo,
 there is also barbequed beef or sausage.

Despite the note about beef, most of
these people are eating pulpo,
always the favorite.

Good to the last drop.

Definitely a satisfied customer.

Feria is "fair" or market day, and in the mornings, nearly everything is sold at a feria: shoes, blouses, scarves, belts, beaded jewelry, plants, fruit, all kinds of produce, honey, bread loaves of all types, utensils for making wine, utensils for making the home-made brandy so popular here, aguardiente. One shot of that will blow your head off, but most people around here confine it to a little shot in their coffee when they do decide to have it. There is also a special drink they make, using aguardiente, called quemada, with orange peel, apple peel, coffee beans, and sugar, blogged about, beforeHERE.  (Scroll down to the very bottom of it, and you'll learn about the drink and the history behind it, as well as seeing the clay vessel they make it in and the clay cups they serve it in; the set is also called a quemada, and it is also sold at the ferias.)

While we were there, a gypsy playing an accordion came in and played some melodies that were so familiar to the crowd, some sang along. It was an absolutely charming touch (and he gained a few coins for that) but, alas, I didn't take pictures. A memorable lunch, for sure.

How about you? Have you ever eaten octopus? Have you ever found yourself eating a dish you thought you never would?


Victoria Lindstrom said...

Thanks for the wonderful photos of your travels, Elizabeth; I always enjoy them. And yes, I have eaten octopus, and loved it!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Victoria, thanks for stopping by. I think octopus is an acquired taste for some. We've definitely acquired it. :-)

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Oh, a gypsy playing a accordion, such a unique entertainment. I spent a few days in Portugal during a trip to Spain, many years ago. Watching fisherman repair nets along the waterfront is a lasting memory.

Tako poke is as close to eating octopus as I've come. It is very tough, difficult to chew.

The quemada sounds marvelous.

Kenda Turner said...

Octopus? Now you are truly brave! I don't think I'd be able to do that :-) Sounds like Portugal is a great country to visit...

Carol Riggs said...

Cute photo of you, Elizabeth! I've tried octopus at Asian restaurants, but not served this way. Having it tender and not so chewy would be a good thing! I think I like it better when I don't think of where it came from--the tentacles and suction cups on the legs. ;o)

Richard Hughes said...

Looks like you're having a good time. I've never eaten octopus. Not sure I'd want to try it either, but you never know.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Gail, thanks for the follow. We have seen a lot of gypsies in our trips to Galicia. The one playing the accordion yesterday was right out of a book. (I've always been intrigued by gypsies and used to love to read about them when I was a kid.)

Kenda, yes, Portugal is a great place to visit. The people are so warm and friendly. I want to go back. But the people here in Galicia are wonderful, too. They make us feel right at home when we are here.

Hi, Carol, yeah the tentacles put me off at first, and for a long time I wouldn't try it. Once I did though, I was so pleasantly surprised.

Richard, you might be surprised. For a long time, I didn't think I wanted to try it. I just try not to think about the suction cups. :-)

Rosi said...

What a wonderful day for you and Rajan. I like calamari -- deep fried octopus -- but don't have it often. It's a treat for me. Tahoe Joe's in Roseville has a Calamari Steak dredged in ground pistachio nuts then sauted that is to die for. I think I'd like pulpo. I'd probably like that brandy too! And the gypsy playing the accordion. Glad you're having such a great trip, but I'll be glad when you come home.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi. We like calamari, too, and they fix it especially well in Galicia. I have never had calamari steak, it sounds good. One of these days we'll have you over and you can try the brandy.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Wonderful experience for you. I usually am the only one brave enough to try everything when we travel. lol. But! It's part of the fun. I'm glad to know there is a difference in quality depending on how it's cooked.

Julia Hones said...

What an interesting trip, Elizabeth.
Thank you for sharing the information and the pictures.
I don't remember if I ate octopus before but I seem to imagine the taste for some unfathomable reason...
Thank you for the comments on my blog.
They are very much appreciated.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it is amazing the different results, depending on how something is cooked. We love calamari, but once had some that was so rubbery we couldn't eat it.

Hi, Julia, I'm glad you stopped by. I always enjoy your blog so much and some of the poems you share.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have never eaten Octopus and I don't think I will ever eat it. Pulpo looks good.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rachna, well . . . it may look good, but it IS octopus. :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rachna, well . . . it may look good, but it IS octopus. :-)

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating. The quemada sounds tasty.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandra, "tasty" is the word. By the time it has burned a few minutes, some of the alcohol has dissipated, and you get the coffee/apple/orange peel flavors.

Nancy Herman said...

Hi Mitty, Tom and I once had octopus while in the Basque area of Spain--it was actually a squid stew, served in its own ink. We weren't crazy about it--salty--but it seemed like the thing to do at the time! We look forward to brewing some quemada with you and Rajan.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Nancy, thanks for stopping by. We will certainly look forward to having quemada with you and Tom. As for the squid stew: squid isn't the same as octopus; but they serve an octopus stew here, too, and we weren't keen on it. In general, I don't like seafood stews, or fish stews, either.

S.P. Bowers said...

I hae eaten octopus. I didn't like it. Now that I think about it, it might have been squid. Either way I don't think I'll be going back for more. I'm not a big fan of seafood, which was a problem when we traveled in southern Spain.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

HI, S. P. Seafood is pretty big all over Spain, so I'm sure you kept encountering it. We are vegetarians except for fish and seafood, so that gets us by when we are in Spain. (You can only eat so much cheese -- although we love Manchego cheese.

Editors At Work said...

Thanks for sharing these photos Elizabeth! I feel like I was with you!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I'm so glad you felt that way EAW; one of the pleasures of sharing is for that very reason. The photos help bring others along for the ride. Have a nice day, and thanks for stopping by.

Sandra Cox said...

Happy Thursday, Elizabeth.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Interesting! I'd love to try octopus someday!