The Cantabrian Sea in Spain covers a huge area from the Basque Country bordering France, heading west through Cantabria, Asturias and finally Galicia, where it collides head on with the Atlantic Ocean at beautiful Estaca de Bares. In the English speaking world we loosely refer to this sea as the Bay of Biscay, an English rendering of the Basque word Bizkaia or Vizcaya in Spanish. The artesanal fishing fleets along this coast specialise in line-caught Hake, Bonito or Albacore Tuna and more famously, Anchoa or Anchovy. Long considered by Spaniards to be one of the great gourmet dishes in Spain, the anchovies are filleted and then preserved in three ways, en salazón (salt), ahumadas (smoked) or in extra virgin olive oil. They are only slightly salty, quite firm texture wise (the Spanish use the wonderful word terse), and index-finger sized, nothing at all like the tiny, wormlike, swig of a salt cellar things you find strewn on pizzas, at least in the UK. Product transformation or sobado is done entirely by hand, hence the rather elevated price, a 180gr can or jar will cost around 20 to 30€ or more. Now on to the good cause bit. A Cantabrian company by the name of Cantabria En Tu Boca (Cantabria In Your Mouth) has come up with a unique way of easing the burden on those suffering from the consequences of the economic crisis that has been blighting the country over the last few years. Their recruitment policy is centred exclusively on people over 50 who are currently out of work and have had their benefits curtailed. In addition, 100% of the company’s profits are channelled into the same cause. Right now this service is totally unique in Europe in that nobody is offering top quality, own-brand gourmet products to the public in such a charitable way. They also plan to start similar ventures abroad once they establish a decent online presence. So who knows? Solidarity via fabulous gourmet foods from Cantabria could be happening in your town pretty soon. Round of applause. You can learn more about them here: wwww.cantabriaentuboca.net
I read a very alarming statistic today. 60% of mussels prepared and canned in Galicia are imported from Chile. While I’ve nothing against Chile or the Chilean people, I have to say their mussels are crap compared to ‘Mytilus Galloprovincialis’, the Galician Mussel. Basically it’s ‘more economically viable’ to import Chilean product, add to that the ‘furry hand ‘of the dark forces who wish to limit protected status to live mussels only and the pressure from the acuaculture industry, looking to ‘muscle in’ (sic) on traditional mussel cultivation platforms, we effectively have a signed death warrant for the Galician Mussel, which, incidentally are far to superior to those miniscule things the French produce and adorn with unnecessary pollutants like garlic, white wine and cream, probably because they don’t actually taste of anthing. If you buy canned mussels, make sure you buy the ones featured on this website. Just click on ‘comercializadores’ and then ‘transformadores’ on the left and you will see the brands who have nailed their colours to the mast in support of our friend ‘mytilus galloprovincialis’. The website is in Galician, not Spanish, but that’s neither here nor there.
Viva el mejillón gallego!!