This is my first travel story – not because I like it most – but simply because it was the one I thought of most recently and it made me smile.
During my year exchange in Salamanca, Spain, I did what any person looking to improve their spanish would do. I got a spanish girlfriend. Maria was from Galicia, in the north of spain: a region that is known as the home of Santiago de Compostela, the ‘Prestige’ oil-spill disaster, rain and inclement weather, and, most importantly for this story, exquisite seafood (well pre-oil-spill anyways). Maria’s family, like all good Galician families I’m sure, loved to indulge in all things edible and coastal including necoras, pescado y pulpo (crabs, fish and octopus).
Maria, as a student at the local university in Salamanca, was entitled to one free package from her parents every month.
So one day I found myself tottling off to the post office to pick up one of Maria’s monthly mystery parcels. As Maria signed off, the lady handed us the package and politely noted that liquid was dripping from one of the (now slightly soggy) corners. Ever so gracious, Maria chuckled, thanked her and made for the door and her apartment.
During our mid-stroll discussion, it came to light that the package was nothing less than a huge OCTOPUS that her mother had bought the day before, packed in ice and then shipped off just before close of business!! I have to admit I was somewhat stupefied. In Australia, shipping quantities of fresh meat, let alone seafood, by regular post was not common practice. Maria laughed it off, assuring me that the Octopus in Salamanca was terrible and this, on the contrary, would be superb…
Unfortunately, I would never know how beautifully succulent that pulpo turned out to be. My afternoon siesta was somewhat prolonged and I arrived to find an empty kitchen with nothing but a semi-stale piece of head/brain left drowning in olive oil for me to enjoy…