Thursday, October 27, 2016

October in Galicia

Early October.

Little lambs everywhere. So cute.
Our trip to Galicia this fall seemed to fly by. When we arrived, the weather      
seemed like summer. Except for a couple of rainy and windy days that were chilly, the temperatures have been fabulous. Blue skies and warm afternoons, with moderately  chilly mornings or evenings.  You can see in the picture below that even now fall is only beginning.
Now the trees are starting to turn.

On the far hill is a small village called Piñeiro. It used to show more completely, as well as another small village below it called San Lorenz. But as the population ages and the young people move away or go abroad for jobs, there is less farming. The trees aren't cleared. Also, for the older people, the calefacción is replacing the wood-burning stove for heating the home, and so fewer trees are chopped down for firewood.
 Due to my eye surgery, we couldn't come to Trasulfe until October, and then we squeezed in 4 days of that time to go to Braga, Portugal. (I've been posting pictures of Braga on my Facebook Timeline.) But this was one trip where I didn't work much through the week. I had rewritten my mystery for the trillionth time and sent it off, and except for a couple of book reviews, I let myself kick back and relax on this visit. Rajan and I just spent time with neighbors and friends, or going into Monforte, the nearest big town, and joining others for coffee or lunch or dinner. It was great! Rajan, of course, was better about taking his daily walks and taking black-and-white photos everywhere on country roads and in the small hamlets.

I did take loads of pictures, though. Despite the fact we are about to go home in three days, I'll be posting about the trip, starting today with a post about the feria. Ah, the feria!

We love it! It's simply the old village fair, although there's a fair or market day in every town or village, no matter what size. Monforte de Lemos (Monforte for short) has three each month, always on the same dates: the 6th, the 16th, and the 24th. The 24th is the biggest one, though, and simply packed with stalls and people. Other towns around have at least two, but Monforte is our favorite. You can buy anything: shoes, clothing, dishtowels, tablecloths, winemaking supplies, stills to make aguardiente, a killer brandy that goes into café or is used to make flavored liquors in every home. (It's legal here to distill brandy for home use, although you can't sell it.)

These made us laugh.

Rajan passing produce stands.

Wine-making vats.

Yup. Stills in all sizes for the home.

We went with our neighbor Miguel, as we do at least once each trip.

In the big hall you see pictured below, the specialty is pulpo (octopus). Now, at first, the idea of eating octopus had me wary, but both Rajan and I were surprised to learn we like it—a lot! We look forward to lunch with Miguel on every trip, now.

The way they prepare pulpo at the fairs is to boil it in a copper pot until it is tender, then cut it in small pieces and provide toothpicks instead of forks. Once on the wooden plate, they sprinkle paprika or red pepper, depending on whether you like it picante — we do — and drizzle it with olive oil. (You can also get broiled meat, but we are vegetarians, although we do eat seafood.)

Sonia preparing the pulpo to serve. We see her at all the ferias, including at Ferreira and at Escairón. (She's actually neighbor to an acquaintance near Tuiriz. Slowly you learn these things.) Since the fairs in each town are all on different dates, it works out well for her to make the rounds.   The meal includes a bottle of the house wine and a long loaf of bread to tear into pieces and dip in the olive oil on your plate. (Mmm, good!)

The olive oil.

Miguel, savoring pulpo. 

The pulpo.

Wine, bread, and pulpo. A great trio.

We arrived early, and sat at one of the long tables while Sonia prepared our order. As you can see, the place hadn't filled up yet, but by the time we left, the regulars had arrived—whole families—and the air was full of laughter and greetings.
Before the crowd.

Later—a good time being had by all.

Then it was time to go home. Hope you have enjoyed your afternoon at the feria! More photos and posts to come. Meanwhile . . .

Have you ever been to a village fair? Have you ever eaten octopus? If so, how was it prepared? Have you ever eaten a dish you never expected to eat? What is your favorite "new" food that you tried for the first time?


Kate Larkindale said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to visit! I don't love octopus, I'm afraid. It's always so chewy! But I've eaten a lot of weird things. I lived in China for a while when I was younger and I learned not to ask what was put in front of me at banquets after I was told I'd just eaten donkey penis. I decided it was probably best not to know….

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kate, thanks for stopping by. Oh, wow! Donkey penis! I don't think I could handle that. But I do think you would like the octopus the way they prepare it here. It's not chewy at all. Very tender. Same with the calamari. We've had some of the most tender calamari ever here. Somehow they have the secret of keeping it tender.

Kenda Turner said...

Enjoyed your pictures and account of your trip :-) Octopus?, haven't sampled that and not sure you've convinced me to try! As for fairs and foods, our latest excursion was close to home but with an international flavor--a German volksmarch (walk) sponsored by the Germania association here that concludes with a delicious sampling of German foods. A great way to spend an October day...

Karen Lange said...

Looks like it was a wonderful trip! Your pictures are lovely, although I suspect that it's much better in person. :)

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. It's so nice to meet you! I appreciate the follow as well. Looking forward to getting to know you better. Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kenda, your German "volksmarch" sounds intriguing. I think food is such a nice way to experience cultures. That's one aspect of fairs and festivals I really enjoy. It's part of what I enjoy about the Greek Festival in Sacramento as well.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Karen. You are right, in person, it's even better, but I'm so grateful for the pictures to capture it. Realistically, we won't be able to do this forever, and then we'll have the photos to jog memory.

Rosi said...

You sure do know how to make your readers feel jealous. Sounds like such a lovely time, but I will be glad to see you come home.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, while we really are having a great time, I'll be ready to come home, and will be glad to see all of you again. Have a great meeting tomorrow.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

What a fascinating trip. Beautiful pictures. I almost felt like I was there. Looking forward to more. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi; Beverly, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you like the pictures—and more will be following. We go home tomorrow, but I've taken quite a few. Have a great day.

Crystal Collier said...

I should not have read this while hungry. Oh my. Now I'm starving!

What a wonderful trip! I'm so glad you were able to enjoy it and taht the weather was nice.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Crystal, your comment made me laugh. If that post made you hungry, I think you would really like pulpo. If there are any Spanish restaurants in your area, you should try it out. Thanks for the nice comments about my trip. We really did enjoy it. Meanwhile congratulations on the release of your book, Timeless. The cover looks great.

Tamara Narayan said...

I never expected to try squid, but since it was in an orange sauce, I mistakenly thought it was ravioli. What a chewy surprise!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tamara, I'm sure that was a surprise. Squid isn't always chewy, but it can be. Surprisingly, the pulpo (octopus) wasn't chewy at all, and I've tasted it in Italian food, too, when it actually seemed like a soft cheese. Food can be amazing. Thanks for stopping by. Have a good day.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Sounds like such a wonderful experience! Thank you for sharing it!! I will try anything, and I find I usually enjoy it, but octopus is one I never tried.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya. If you are adventurous, I think you would like octopus for sure. Well, the way they prepare it above, anyway. :-) Hope this finds you enjoying a beautiful fall. We just got back Tuesday, and the trees here in Sacramento are beginning to turn. (They are late this year.) I love the fall colors, don't you?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a fun trip. I've never visited a village like that or eaten octopus. Not sure I want to try it. Glad you had so much fun.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie. Thanks for stopping by. For a long time, we were reluctant to try it, looking at all those tentacles with their little suction cups. 😊 But then a friend (in Galicia) had us to her home and included octopus in a salad she prepared. It was so good, and we didn't know what it was, so we asked her. After that, we braved the Feria pulpo. There are still a lot of things I wouldn't try. Snake, for instance. (Ick). Have a great day.