Pulpo á Feira – Party Time! (Unless you’re an Octopus)

Some things are inevitable, death, taxes and peer pressure from your cycling companions to eat octopus when you get to Santiago de Compostela. I knew it was coming from about 200km outside of Santiago when “Pulpo” started appearing on menus. When my travelling companions shifted their enthusiasm for strange land based animal products to scary looking oddities from the sea, I knew there would be no escape.

I’m no food critic, so this is a straightforward description of my encounter with ‘Pulpo a Feira’, or ‘octopus at the party’ (literal translation), not much of a party if you happen to be the octopus!

First some things I wasn’t going to do:

  1. Eat it cold in a tapas bar. The prospect of cold octopus sucker on toast freaked me out slightly.
  2. Attempt any of the specimens on offer in restaurant windows. I saw some of these beauties two days running.

Even my basic understanding of seafood tells me the fresher the better. So…… It was off to Santiago’s Open Air Market to eat and party like a local.

Santiago de Compostela Open Air Market Pulpo recipe:

  1. Take one octopus and tenderise. Two options here;
  2. Remove the inedible bits (again check out the recipe)
  3. Throw octopus into a huge vat of salty water and boil until tender.
  4. Remove and cut into small pieces with a scissors and place onto a wooden dish.
  5. Season with paprika, salt and olive oil.
  6. Serve with wine and bread (optional).

The results:

It was quite chewy, but that’s ok. The paprika, oil and salt are necessary; otherwise I don’t think it has much of a taste. It was quite filling, definitely best shared with a few others.

I’m not sure a Pulpo á Feira stall would take off in Pontypridd Market. Geof reckons it’s more the sort of thing they would go for in Swansea.

Check out the pictures of the Santiago de Compostela Open Air Market, Pulpo a Feira experience, Party Time!, (unless you’re the octopus). Vegetarians may not want to proceed NSFV (not safe for vegetarians).

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. Stick with the locals at the Market when it comes to eating unusual things.
  2. Check out the alternatives before giving in to peer pressure – so glad I didn’t try that cold octopus sucker on toast.
  3. Perspective is everything. A party it might have been – for everyone except the octopus.

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here: https://whatsthepont.com/churchill-fellowship/

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