1. Goose barnacles
Have you ever been on a beach or cliff and noticed those strange hoof-like things that grow on the rocks? They’re called goose barnacles (percebes) and, guess what, they’re delectable treat! They’re also extremely expensive, because they live in difficult-to-reach spots, and people who make a living gathering them risk their lives doing it.
2. The whole cow, really
Spaniards may not be the best at recycling cans and glass, but no one can blame us for wasting food. Every part of a cow, from its mouth to its legs and organs can be eaten. It’s always nutritious, and there are so many ways of cooking it.
3. Baby eels
Like barnacles, baby eels are another expensive delicacy. Though they look like spaghetti, they’re actually skinned baby eels. We fry them with garlic, salt, and chili, and them eat them while they’re still hot. If you can’t afford the real angulas, go for gulas, a cheaper fake version (made out of surimi). It’s delicious as well!
4. Bull’s tail…and testicles
Of course, these are not the only bull parts we eat, but they’re probably the most surprising for foreigners. And you know what? Whenever they eat it without asking what they’re having, they love the taste. Rabo de toro (bull’s tail) is typical in the south of Spain, dating back to the 16th century when it was prepared with bulls killed during bullfighting. As for the criadillas, they can actually be made out of any animal’s testicles, not only bulls’.
5. Blood crepes
Spanish crepes are called filloas and are typical in the northwest (Galicia, Asturias, León), and don’t worry, they’re usually bloodless. But beware: if they have a strange color, if they’re offered to you during the fall (when pigs are slaughtered in villages), and if you listen to someone give one of these crepes to a child saying they’re brown because they’re cooked with chocolate…be suspicious. It’s not chocolate, it’s blood! But if you dare try these bloody crepes, you might find you actually like them — vampire!
6. The whole pig
If you ever watch travel documentaries, you’re probably amazed at all those weird dishes the reporters try, and at how they always swallow and smile. That’s, of course, until they go to Bar Orella in Santiago de Compostela and try a tapa of orella de cerdo, or pork’s ear — the texture is not for everyone! But why would we leave the ears? As with cows, we eat the whole pig. It’s wrong to let food go to waste!
7. Sunflower seeds
Do you know a young Spaniard studying abroad? Do you want to make them happy? Buy a bag of sunflower seeds (we call them pipas), then observe their amazing skills at eating the seed but not the shell, and how quickly they do it. If you start practising now, in one year you could be as good at eating pipas as any Spanish teenager!
Everybody eats breadcrumbs, but maybe not as a standalone dish. Except for Spanish people. Traditional migas are eaten in central Spain accompanied with garlic, olive oil, pepper, and, to make it perfect, some grapes. So, if you’re a vegetarian and visit Spain, you can still eat authentically with migas and pipas.
You’re probably wondering what callos are. Don’t ask, just eat. Delicious, right? Don’t you just love how this meat stew warms your bones on a cold day? Accompanied by chickpeas or just tomato and many spices, you don’t really need (want?) to know what it is exactly that you’re eating, but if you insist…veal tripe. Yes, guts! And they’re really normal and typical; you’ll get it as a tapa in many bars in Madrid and other parts of Spain.