Cervezas And Cephalopods – Mercado De Abastos – Santiago De Compostela, Spain

We’ve crossed back over from Portugal into the northern part of Spain, to a small town called Santiago de Compostela. Santiago is the capital of Galicia, the northwestern corner of Spain. Galicia offers quite a different landscape than the rest of the country; it’s cool, wet, green, and mountainous.

Santiago isn’t a well-known tourist destination internationally, but it’s very popular with Spaniards. The big draw is the cathedral, which aside from being one of the largest in Europe, is the burial place of Saint James, one of the twelve apostles. The town is full of trekkers finishing up the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage that begins in places throughout Spain and other European countries, and ends at the cathedral in Santiago. The main facade is undergoing renovation and is covered in scaffolding, which is a little disappointing, but overall the town is very neat.

By this point we’ve learned that if there’s a fresh market in town, we’re going to find something interesting to eat there. So we didn’t hesitate to go check out Santiago’s Mercado de Abastos. There were a lot of the usual suspects – meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables – but this market definitely had a Galician twist. The cheeses here are very different. There’s a wide variety of them, and some don’t even look like cheese. Our favorite was the tetilla, which translates to “small breast.” It’s shaped like…well, you get it.

A local delicacy here is boiled octopus. It’s on the menu everywhere. While walking through the market, we crossed a stand that wasn’t much of a stand – just a guy with a big pot of boiling water, cooking a few octopus (or octopi?). We (more like Kevin) had to try some. He whipped out a big pair of scissors, and sliced up two of the tentacles onto a small wooden plate. Next came a few snips from the head. Then a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and some paprika. He told us to take the plate to the restaurant around the corner, have a seat, order some beers, and enjoy. It’s the only way to eat it. Of course we obliged.

Well, Kevin did. Christine isn’t a fan of octopus…but she did try this one, and did say that it “wasn’t terrible.”