They say to really get to know a place, you need to know its ceramics.
Well, alright, perhaps they don’t say that, whoever or whomever “they” may be.
But in my experience, local food and handicrafts shine a spotlight on a place’s culture in less time than it takes to learn the language.
And when it comes to the salty northwest part of Spain that is Galicia, it’s seafood and ceramics that culturally spill the beans.
The seafood, of course, makes sense. With 750 miles of coastline more jagged and intricate than saying the word antidisestablishmentarianism backwards, it is no wonder that Galicians lay claim to having some of the best seafood in the world.
Dishes are served pure and clear: you won’t find rich, creamy sauces nor lashings of eye-watering spices here.
When it comes to Galician seafood, less is more definitely more. Dishes arrive with a hint of garlic or sliced lemon, if they come with anything at all. Fish is fresh and crustaceans crispy and the delicacy to look out for, percebes or goose barnacles, look about as appetising as a dinosaur’s claw.
And of course, eat enough of the seafood and you’ll run into with the ceramics.
Sky-deep blue and brilliant white, it took a little while to notice the familiar patterns beneath the seafood. And cake.
But spot it once and I spotted it everywhere.
And, well, the association was helped by spotting it all together en masse at the Sargadelos ceramics factory.
This chapel to ceramics first began life over two hundred years ago in 1808 and has changed hands and fortunes several times since. I was intrigued to learn that much of the characteristic whiteness of the works on display hailed from traditions first seen in England’s Bristol.
But if anyone’s in any doubt about where the inspiration comes from today, it’s most definitely in the form of the Galician landscape and people.
What started off as the work of Antonio Raimundo Ibáñez, Marquis of Sargadelos, has morphed into an iconic yet fragile depiction of life here in Galicia and beyond into the rest of Spain.
The showroom reveals artists, poets, politicians and fictional characters like Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho.
The tableware, on the other hand, plays it safe with the bold blue geometry or the occasional Galician shield.
And if you’ll forgive the play with words, it is, of course, a taste of Galicia you can bring home with you.
Unlike the seafood. Which is better appreciated on location.
That’s it for me for now! Enjoy the Sargadelos!
Disclosure: I travelled to Galicia, Spain as part of the #inGalicia project between Captivate and the Spanish Tourist Board. As ever, as always I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise I lose the will to even enjoy my churros. Life is just too short.