Goose barnacles, a type of crustacean, are an expensive delicacy in Spain.
Depending on the season, Christmas say, prices can seem exhorbitant. People have been known to pay upwards of 250€ per kilo just to complete the long-as-your-arm list of shellfish starters at a Galician Christmas Eve family feast.
The percebeiro, or goose barnacle gatherer, has one of the most dangerous jobs going and lives are often lost in the pursuit to bring them to markets throughout the country and the year. Two regions in Galicia, Roncudo and Cedeira, battle it out for the Goose Barnacle crown and both pack them off to swish restaurants in Madrid, New York, London and Tokyo.
The male goose barnacle boasts considerable bragging rights in the marine animal kingdom for having a penile extension at least half the length of its own body. Bizarrely, they engage in a form of long distance sex by releasing their sperm into the ocean current hopeful that multiple female partners on neighbouring rocks will reach out and capture some of it, thus ensuring the continuity of the species.
This very selfless form of procreation takes place in the most savage of conditions with huge waves continuously crashing over them. Never an intimate moment for the humble Goose Barnacle. So next time you’re having Goose Barnacles for lunch or supper, spare a thought for them and their very lonely sex lives.
And finally, the most important question: Roncudo or Cedeira? Cedeira, Punto Candieira and Santo André de Teixido every time for quality, size and a perhaps couple of other factors we don’t need to go into here.
Photo: Percebe D’Cedeira.