The Taste of a Thousand Octopi, or, The Culinary Monopolies of Galicia: Pass Go, Collect 200 Cephalopods

Spain, the country of my current residence, is rather pointedly different than that of the United States. Consequently, various aspects of life and the average day to day are, well, different. From my short time in Lugo, Spain, there have been some rather interesting discrepancies in culinary techniques and interests that I find interesting to place the most brief of spotlights upon.

Primarily, I feel a pervasive need to stay on the good side of the people of Galicia, as they all seem to be masters of the knife. Not strictly Culinary Institute of America-approved techniques, either. No special knife-grip, fingers curled in and firmly placed upon the intended cutting material, cutting away from yourself for the sake of control and security. No, no, not here. Often, it is knife in hand with the intended cutting base being their own fingers or the flesh of the vegetable, fruit, or meat itself. It’s impressive, if not nerve-racking to my personal sensibilities and culinary teachings/inclinations. Freaks me out. Yet its simplicity and functionality is impressive: they are cutting, peeling, coring, cubing, slicing, and dicing all with one tool, when any number of American families will have any number of devices for each of these acts. Think of the countless products in countless cooking magazines, all paling in comparison to Galician utilization of one stout knife. It’d be more inspiring if the thought of doing it didn’t scare the hell out of me. Continue reading