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?