Jan 31, 2010

Tasting the sea

He told me that his abuela always told him, you shouldn't play with your food but I couldn't help myself. I was mesmerized by the freakish shapes and textures - I envisioned alien crowns with black canvas tube gowns dancing on rocks somewhere deep in the sea.
He watched me with what I think was amusement as I arranged the crowns in patterns on my plate and took photos.
A popular delicacy in Spain and Portugal, Percebes (Goose Barnacles) are filter-feeding crustaceans that live attached to hard surfaces and depend on water motion for feeding - the harder the crashing waves, the better the quality. These strange looking creatures have a beak-shaped shell, a stalk-like body covered in what feels like canvas, and a peachy bulbous base. Served cold, once you peel away its skin, its tender flesh tastes like the sea. The mild, delicate flavour reminded me in passing of mussels though, mussels have a much stronger taste.

According to legend, Goose Barnacles got their name because medieval naturalists believed Barnacle Geese hatched from them. A 12th century monk, Giraldus Cambrensis, even claimed to have witness the transformation [source: wiki]. Now that must have been quite a miraculous sight! Perhaps he dined on magical mushrooms earlier that day.

All photographs by Shehani Kay


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