We’ve heard a lot about the bounty of the Basque kitchen in recent years, but Galicia is every bit as blessed with a veritable cornucopia of gorgeous ingredients that form the basis of an honest but delicious culinary tradition. From the deep blue waters off its coast comes some of the finest fish in Europe, from the rocky cliffs and coastal lagoons delicious shellfish, and from the lush green pastures, forests and fields a range of produce that includes first class dairy products, meat, vegetables, bread and mushrooms.
This verdant land is also a perfect home for the cultivation of potatoes, maize and the wheat that forms the basis for delicious country style bread. Potatoes find their way into the region’s many famous stews and caldos, or hearty broths. Comfort food just made for the winter season, these dishes also include healthy vegetables, hearty stock, onions, garlic, beans and a variety of meats including pork, beef and chorizo sausages that add to the wealth of flavours.
Traditional pork roasts, suckling pig dishes or leg of lamb are a feast to be savoured, as is the cocido that is a slow-cooked amalgamation of vegetables, cabbages, potatoes, pulses and various meats. A meal that requires a little while to digest, it is a popular weekend lunch and forms the heart of a social gathering of friends and family. Androlla or Botelo sausages are often accompanied by boiled potatoes, while the region is also famous for its Empanadas Gallegas – Galician meat pies that also include onions, vegetables and sometimes cheese. A popular light refreshment, they are a delicious and hearty but also healthy way to snack.
Cold meats and soft, light-coloured queixo de tetilla cheeses made from cow’s milk are other local specialities, often washed down with the increasingly recognised local red wines. A popular desert is the Tarta de Santiago, an almond cake with powdered sugar decoration that is associated with the historic town of Santiago de Compostela. Such a feast is usually crowned with a strong cup of coffee and, if you’re up to it, a small glass of Orujo liquor. Also known as Aguardente – or firewater – this strong clear spirit made from the residue left by the crushing of grapes is a perfect digestive…and a way of separating the men from the boys!