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Dinosaur Toes

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bar na cle (barn'ne kel) n. a saltwater shellfish that attaches itself to rocks, ship bottoms, etc. {Webster's New World Dictionary} In Spanish -- percebes.

For a quick, easy read on gooseneck barnacles here is a link to the Chow.com website.

One of our "must-dos" in Galicia was to witness a percebes harvest. And then taste the delicacy for ourselves.

Our strategy for this particular day was to drive up the coast from Fisterra until we found a place where a harvest was in progress. We probably should have planned more carefully, and researched towns and times of day.

As it happened, we were very, very lucky to stumble upon the town of Muxie (pronounced MOO shah) at the perfect time of day.

We spent several hours marveling at the men who were harvesting percebes on the rocky coast below the church. (Although traditionally harvesting is a male job, we did see several women braving the waves as well.)

Can you see two of them in their orange safety vests on the side of the rock?

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A harvester takes advantage of the seconds he has between waves to swoop down and pry the barnacles off the sides of the rocks. Then he jumps back as the next wave hits, and stows them in a net bag hanging from his waist.

When his bag is full he runs up the rocks to a dry spot, where a woman is kneeling on the rocks with nothing but a small pocket knife. He dumps the bag in front of her and heads back to the edge.

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We reluctantly got back in the car and headed up the coast to Camarinas to find a spot for lunch.


Comments (1)

What a perfect name! My gosh, they truly look pre-historic. I've never seen or heard of percebes ... how did they taste?

Deborah responds: The part that looks like the toes is actually what sticks out into the water. They open up and catch the micro-organisms they feed on. The other end is what attaches to the rock.
They taste mostly like the sea, fresh but not salty, and not fishy at all. They have the texture of snails or meaty mushrooms.

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