Galicia is a true paradise for seafood lovers. The uniqueness of its waters and the multiplicity of marine ecosystems along its 400 kilometers of coastline, make Galician seafood, in addition to having an unparalleled volume of catches and variety, are considered the best in the world, as noted by internationally renowned chefs such as Ferrán Adriá. Oysters, barnacles, crabs, spider crabs, cockles, scallops… there are many delicacies that can be found there. But if there is one that has become an emblem in Galicia, it is undoubtedly the pulpo (octopus).
Although today it is possible to enjoy this versatile mollusk throughout the country, it is on the northwest coast of the country where octopus reaches perfection, especially when it is cooked in the local way, that is, Galician style or a feira (which are the same, only that the former includes potatoes in its recipe and the latter does not).
Being such a distinctly seafaring dish, its origin is very curious as it dates back to the sixteenth century and is located in O Carballiño, a town belonging to Orense, located 80 kilometers from the coast.
There, where the Monastery of Oseira is located, an important Cattle Fair used to take place. As was the custom at that time, the octopuses were dried to preserve them, so the monks, in order to feed the fair visitors, cooked the pieces of octopus and seasoned them with salt and olive oil. From there came the nickname a feira and soon this preparation spread to the rest of the Galician provinces and other nearby ones such as Sanabria (Zamora) and El Bierzo (León).
Pulpo a la gallega or a feira – Galician-style octopus is one of those recipes that should not be underestimated, because although it has few ingredients (octopus, potatoes, extra virgin olive oil, salt and paprika), finding the octopus’ optimal cooking time requires a bit of practice. So, let’s get our hands on this delicacy from the cold waters of the Atlantic!