Seville Snapshots: Baby’s First Goose Barnacle

Justin’s idea to spend our hard-earned cash money stemmed from a desire to indulge in Galicia’s finest, the shellfish that give lifeblood to the region’s economy. I had been a few times to Meson O Galego and eaten all the regional dishes they offered, washed down with a cold glass of Albariño wine. The deed was done. Between Justin, Scott and I, we split a 46€ mariscada, replete with crusty-shelled goodies.

Plump shrimp, a lobster tail, razor clams and crab legs all ended up on my plate as I wrapped up a phone call with my boss. I reached for more clams and fished around to see if any coquinas had made it onto the tray while the other teachers looked on, probably wondering how I could eat just so much seafood. For someone who comes from a landlocked, beef-producing state, my affection for all things aquatic didn’t begin until Spain.

Only one type of crustacean on the tray remained untouched. I’d seen the likes of it around supermarkets and in the windows of high-end seafood places. Percebes. Goose barnacles, or percebes, as they’re known in the Galician tongue, are filter-feeding crustaceans whose very sight caused my stomach to turn. Far too expensive to pick up in the supermarket for a snack (my local mercado sells them for 36€/100g!!), I’d never dared order them, lest I hate them and be none the richer.

It was now or never. Justin patiently explained that the coarse outside, which resembled a closed claw, was meant for nothing more than to protect the fleshy, edible part from the constant battering of the waves along the shore, and that the leathery suction cups were not to be eaten, either. One must twist the leathery part and pull, revealing one long, red part to be consumed. But, ojo! he warned, they squirt. Napkin tucked into my collar, I pulled with all my might, tearing the leathery body off of the claw. I consumed. It tasted like a sea urchin – like grainy, salty water. I tried a few more, for good measure, but my face above reveals just how much I loved them – I’ll stick to zamburiñas, por favor!

If you’d like to contribute your photos from Spain and Seville, please send me an email at sunshineandsiestas @ gmail.com with your name, short description of the photo, and any bio or links directing you back to your own blog, Facebook page or twitter. There’s plenty more pictures of gorgeous Seville on Sunshine and Siesta’s new Facebook page!

Seville Snapshots: Patio de las Doncellas

Camp is just about over, and I’m not thinking of Seville, but of corn on the cob, fireworks, boating and all things American (after two days in Madrid with the Novio, I’m flying back to Chicago de la Frontera). But special pictures like this one, from Toby, keep the memories of my second home strong when I’ll be away for two months.

The jewel in Seville’s crown is the triangle of sites that lie in Plaza del Triunfo: the massive cathedral, Archivo de Indias and the royal palace, the oldest still in use. The center of the complex, which includes architectural hallmarks from Seville’s 2000-year history and one of the city’s largest gardens, is the Patio de las Doncellas. The Maiden’s Courtyard is said to have been named for the 100 virgins brought in every year for the Moorish kings living in the palace, and its upper courtyards are still used by the Royal

Toby writes: I spent my junior year of college in Madrid and fell in love with Spain.  But it took me nearly 30 years to return and I brought my husband and then 10-year-old daughter on a two-week trip through Spain and had a fabulous time!  We started in Barcelona, then onto Madrid. We spent several days in Madrid and took one day trip to Toledo. Afterwards we spent time in Sevilla, Malaga and Granada.  10 months later my husband and I returned to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Now hubby has also fallen in love with Spain and we hope to retire to Malaga.  We shall see what happens (a ver lo que pasa).  I started my blog to document both trips to Spain as well as future travel plans: http://travelswithtoby.wordpress.com/

If you’d like to contribute your photos from Spain and Seville, please send me an email at sunshineandsiestas @ gmail.com with your name, short description of the photo, and any bio or links directing you back to your own blog, Facebook page or twitter. There’s plenty more pictures of gorgeous Seville on Sunshine and Siesta’s new Facebook page!

Sun, Sun, Sun!

Sunny days in Coruña are hard to come by. In the four months I’ve spent here over the years, the rain-to-sun ratio is probably at a 50-50 – not bad for a place whose average yearly rainfall is far higher than most places in Spain.

Usually, the rainy days in summer are good for a book and hot drink, or at least getting work done on my part, and they make the few days where the sun decides to peek out absolutely blissful. Just Sunday, after nearly two weeks of overcast skies and steady showers, the morning storm passed into a bright day – and the forecast had predicted rain.

Camarón was in tow, along with my new photographer friend, Justin. We have that kind of master-pupil relationship: me as his boss at summer camp, and him teaching a green thumb about aperture and ISO speed. The result? Photos that reflect Coruña’s Old World personality and a tummy full of ribs and belly laughs.

Seville Snapshots: Beware the Falling Oranges!

Camp is moving along smoothly, save a few bumps (literally) in the road, so I appreciate all of your contributions to Seville Snapshots. Today’s takes us to the chillier winter months, where the orange trees that dot the city become one of the city’s most important symbols.

Says Sam: I’ve been loving looking at your photos of Sevilla and reading your blog! I wanted to submit one of my own photos from my most recent trip there in March. It was taken with my phone, so it’s nothing fancy, but I love how it sums up what it’s like to walk around Sevilla at that time of year. Anyone who has spent time there knows the familiar resounding “splat!” of an orange hitting the sidewalk, usually just narrowly missing your head. This was the first time I’d seen a bunch of the oranges cleaned up off the ground in one bag. And to think, they look both harmless and delicious when they’re packaged up like that. There’s nothing about them that suggests that they’re just tiny little bombs, waiting to knock you out or obliterate your tapas and vino!

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Many thanks to Sam Ley from wiesagtman.wordpress.com !!

If you’d like to contribute your photos from Spain and Seville, please send me an email at sunshineandsiestas @ gmail.com with your name, short description of the photo, and any bio or links directing you back to your own blog, Facebook page or twitter. There’s plenty more pictures of the gorgeous Seville on Sunshine and Siesta’s new Facebook page!

Places with Encanto: La Bombilla, La Coruña

It takes a special place to get me to sidle up to the other patrons, elbows out, all in the name of a good meal. But there are few places as special as La Bombilla.

My first visit to La Bombilla coincided with my first trip to Galicia. Javi picked us up from the airport, loaded our bags into his car and asked in his sing-song galego accent, ¿Comemos? He and I were going to get along.

Packing into a small bar straight out of decades past, Javi held up four fingers and long tubes of Estrella Galicia were pressed into our hands. After months of Cruzcampo, the foamy bust of the beer went down as smooth as the tall drink of water behind the bar. And he had a twin.

The place is legendary – everyone who visits the Crystal City seems to have passed through its doors, sampled their gigantic tapas and returned for more. I’ve sat on the steps outside countless times, laughing at the concept of a place where the dining hall was almost always full, and patrons spill onto the street.

Four years after my first visit, I’m still craving La Bombilla’s milanesa, a Galician treat made with a fried pork loin and stacked high with a fried red pepper and potatoes. The menu is simple – you can choose the milanesa, a potato omelette, a gargantuan croquette, tuna empanadilla or a bocadillo sandwich – and each tapa comes with a fist-sized slice of spongy bread, held together with a toothpick.

Just last night, we packed into the bar along with the Coruñenses. Our bounty was loaded high onto a plastic plate, and T grabbed napkins from a yellow Cola Cao canister that had been cut and napkins inserted.

“Tio, como se nota la crisis, con la Bombilla asi de gente…” said a dark-haired man, a telltale sign of a native Galician. The crisis is evident, just look at the number of the people in La Bombilla. This could go both ways – either the one euro tapas were giving people a reason to treat themselves to dining out, or even the restaurant was hurting in the wake of a financial meltdown.

Either way, I kept happily at my milanesa, lucky enough to afford such a luxury.

Rua de la Galera at the cross of Toreiro. Open for lunch and dinner daily, but el que madruga, Dios le ayude to grab a place at the long, wooden bar.

Seville Snapshots: The View from Patio de los Naranjos

As I hang out up north, running a summer camp and looking after 16 teachers and a blogger, I’m pining for Seville: the heat, the food, the open, wide sky. I’m delighted that Christine in Spain sent me a gorgeous picture that encompasses so many wonderful things about the city, and that she was patient enough to wait in line.
Says Christine: I chose to contribute this photo in particular because I think it captures the essence of Seville: the orange trees which are so symbolic of the city, and the commanding presence of the Cathedral and Giralda in the background. I took this on a mild, sunny January day when the streets were buzzing with people as they so often seem to do in Spain.

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If you’d like to contribute your photos from Spain and Seville, please send me an email at sunshineandsiestas @ gmail.com with your name, short description of the photo, and any bio or links directing you back to your own blog, Facebook page or twitter. There’s plenty more pictures of the gorgeous Seville on Sunshine and Siesta’s new Facebook page!
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