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Bulls may be the national symbol of Spain, but in the lush northwestern region of Galicia, shellfish is king. A trip to the Spanish coastline will bring travelers to the foot of shellfish's Mount Olympus, a tiny fishing village in Pontevedra known for its crustaceous crop. Head there this October for the Seafood Festival and indulge in the region's abundant Atlantic cuisine.
Getting to know Galicia
Galicia's seafood is a refreshing divergence for many western palates. Fish is surely available, as well as mussels, clams, crabs and crayfish, but Galicia makes its mark with a proud embrace of barnacles and octopus.
The eight-legged delicacy is, in fact, the featured ingredient of Galicia's signature dish - pulpo a la gallega, which simply translates to Galician octopus. In this fashion, the octopus is cut up and served with paprika and olive oil, but in the country of tapas you can find the rubbery meat served a thousand different ways.
The barnacle is considered by some to be the king of shellfish, and can be found along the Costa da Morte and in the Lugo Province. Mussels too can be found in a variety of forms - steamed with lemon, roasted or smothered in tomato sauce. Bumming around the region can also turn up baby squid, cockles and razor clams, all served in smaller, affordable portions, making for a sampler's delight.
Exalting in excellence
Amazing and cheap seafood reaches its pinnacle at the O Grove Seafood Festival, held every year in the Pontevedra fishing village since 1963. Sometimes called the Festival in Praise of Shellfish or the Exaltation of Shellfish, a trip to this 10-day festival proves it doesn't matter what it's called, the seafood says it all. The festival is inaugurated on the night of Oct. 3 and hosts seafood stands, cooking exhibitions and competitions every day until Oct. 10. With hours running all day and well into the evening, gastronomic enthusiasts are sure to get their fill.
The festival planners know that a good meal does not rely solely on the food. Travelers enjoying their succulent and salty fare while taking in the revolving display of traditional dances, parades, open-air sand sculptures and bagpipers. These jubilant sights and sounds make this tasty celebration a festival for all of the senses.
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