Capital: Santiago de Compostela
Provinces: A Coruna, Lugo, Ourense, and Pontevedra
Situated in the North-West corner of Spain, Galicia is a green and wind-swept region that boasts two coastlines; the Atlantic to the West and the Bay of Biscay to the North. These oceans provide a fabulous bounty that has seen Galicia become known as the seafood capital of Spain.
The seafood landed here is widely regarded as some of the best in the world but navigating the coastline can be treacherous, and the area around Cape Finisterre is known locally as the Costa de Morte (coast of death) due to the amount of ships that have been wrecked here.
This treacherous coast is home to the black barnacle known as Percebes and the local divers risk life and limb to catch these prized delicacies. They are then served raw or steamed as an appetizer in local bars and restaurants.
It is not just seafood that you will find in Galicia recipes however and the year-round greenery provides excellent conditions for grazing and growing crops. potatoes, turnips, maize and wheat are all staples of the Galician diet and are indispensable to most households. The Grazing provides high quality pasture for cows and the milk is used to create delicious cheeses such as tetilla – named after its breast-like shape - which is the most famous cheese of the region.
The native dish is lacon con grelos which is the front leg or shoulder of a pig, normally salted and boiled with vegetables. Another popular dish is pulpo a la gallega which is octopus quickly boiled and served on a wooden board with olive oil, sea salt and pimenton (smoked paprika).
The region and its landscapes are often compared with both Ireland and Cornwall and the early Celtic settlers must have felt at home when they arrived in the 11th century. The legacy of these Celtic origins remains strong in the culture, food, music and tradition of the region and also in the fair appearance of the local people.
The area has over 200 food festivals each year and the celebrations involve traditional Celtic dances carried out to the distinctive sound of the native bagpipes (gaita) that are far removed from the traditional festivals of southern Spain. The popularity of potatoes in Galicia recipes is also evidence of a lingering Irish influence.
The most famous dessert in the regions is the tarta de santiago; a specialty of Santiago de Compostela, this flourless almond tart is traditionally marked with a stencil of the Cross of Santiago made from icing sugar. You can learn how to make our modern version of this traditional Galicia recipe by clicking here.
Other popular Galicia recipes include txangurro relleno, spider crab served in its shell; vieras de santiago, scallops in tomato and brandy; angulas, eels cooked in garlic and chili and truchas la navarra, freshwater trout stuffed with ham. Pimentos de Padron (padron peppers) are small green peppers that are famous throughout Spain and are served as a tapa in most bars across the region.
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Learn about the diversity of landscape, culture and cuisine that exists in the different regions of Spain.