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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

The River Vampire
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The sea lamprey is a fish which has inhabited the rivers of Galicia for more than 500 millions years and is known as the "vampire of the water" or the "queen of the river”. They are remarkable creatures but good looks are not one of their attributes. They resemble an eel and have a permanently open mouth with a great number of teeth. They also have some nasty parasitic habits when they suck the life out of larger fish by leaching onto their bodies and sucking their blood dry. They are an incredibly invasive species and around the world and can cause havoc with habitats. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about them is that they have been around since well before the dinosaurs, and with 360-million-year-old fossils looking remarkably like modern lampreys, they are said to be the oldest vertebrates on earth.



This ancient fish was blamed for the death of a king in England and was served as a traditional royal dish for   decades but has been absent for over 200 years in English waters, only now is it reappearing. However, what was a medieval delicacy and eaten in a scene of Games of Thrones, has been thriving on Spanish tables in Galicia for as long as anyone can remember.



In Arbo, in Pontevedra, they celebrate a food festival every year which is totally centred around their local celebrity or should I say river monster; the lamprey. For three days (From Apr 28, 2017 to Apr 30, 2017)  there are a variety of tastings of dishes made with lampreys. Bagpipe music plays throughout the streets and the municipal band also performs non-stop. Lampreys are scale-free vertebrates  that reproduce in rivers, grow in the sea and then return to river environments. Fishing for these fish is very popular in this part of Spain between January and April and it is done with the traditional 'pesqueiras', stone structures that are placed in the river to create a funnel type effect. They are usually eaten with wine from the region and cooked in their own blood. Mmmm very appetizing..... I have to say, no matter how many times I look at his creature it puts me off food altogether. I still haven't had the courage to taste it yet...has anyone out their tasted it?


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