Category Archives: encounters

day to day meetings/talks with people

swami sings…


Rakesh is observing a Deeksha of 41 days dedicated to the God Ayyappa…these days are a kind of penance where the participants live a very reduced and spartan life, the idea being that at the end you are physically, mentally and spiritually stronger. Rakesh tells me no women are allowed in this kind of Deeksha except for old women (???!!!) Apparently Ayyappa was a single God and he did not like women…hmmmmmm

cura sin cabeza…

Update on the headless priest from the previous post…

The story of the “cura sin cabeza” or the headless priest is resonant throughout this part of Colombia…A priest from a small country parish was travelling the countryside preaching when he was killed for the precious sacrament cups he carried with him.

Another version is that the aforementioned priest stole the sacramental cup himself when he was officiating at a large parish, with the excuse that he had to go to the countryside to take confession at the home of a young rich woman with whom he spent the night. While there his sacramental cup was stolen…so now he roams the streets (why headless i don’t know???) looking for his stolen cup…Nice…


A pagan ritual from Sardinia (apparently it goes back some 2000 years), don’t ask me what they are doing in the über bourgeois/populist arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II in Milan (maybe something to do with the approaching Carnivale), but there they were; hairy mammoth coated shepherds with their backs laden with giant bells that normally go round the necks of mountain animals. The sound they made, jumping in rhythm was powerful…beautiful, beautiful rhythms…and with more than a touch of Lord of the Rings to it. Please note that there are no accompanying musicians – the sound comes solely from the impact of the jumps and the bells on their backs.
See them in action in the film below:

For more on the mamuthones click here


The countryside here is peppered with pazos, a type of traditional Galician manor house, usually in the countryside and usually belonging to the same wealthy local landowner for generations..though often the wealth has gone but the family and house remains.

Nowadays many are still lived in but are often semi decrepit due to infeasibly high running costs and very hard winters. I was lucky enough to be invited into one the other day…falling apart, still lived in, mouldy, dusty, beautiful and full of the ghosts and traces of a couple of centuries of family life…

Above is the lareira, a raised open fire flanked by benches, the typical set up in old houses here regardless of their status – my grandparents had an almost identical one in their much more modest affair. It was the place to stay warm in the winter and to cook – you can see the bread oven at the back…

Glimpse through the window of the horreo (maize store typical in this area – but more of that in future post…)

If you want to understand the very particular atmosphere and climate of this corner of Galicia and how these old pazos used to function socially and physically  in the day, read one of galicia’s most beloved authors, Emilia Pardo Bazan’s Pazos de Ulloa, its kind of melodramatic but i love it.

albariño wine genius…

This is Miro…and he is most definitely a wine genius…

He is a small production artisan wine producer in the province of Pontevedra in Galicia (north west Spain). He makes albariño wine, as did his father and grandfather before him.

My dad makes the round trip of some 250+ km every few months to buy his wine for his restaurant. When you go, of course you have to taste the produce…even if it is 10 in the morning!!!

I know this wine very well, but every time I come back here is an affirmation that it is truly the best white wine I have ever drunk (even after 5 years in Italy). It is produced in Galicia and Portugal and the characteristics of a good albariño is that it should be fruity, ever so slightly acidic and full-bodied. Miro’s particular albariño also has a distinctive yellow colour due to the much longer maceration process of the fruit, as opposed to a faster, more industrial process.

Miro also makes Agauardiente (quite literally means “burning water”, and is not dissimilar to grappa) from 2 big old copper stills, where grape skins are heated and the fumes that come off them are distilled into Agauardiente, the smell is intoxicating…

…and he also has two pet crows and a tame magpie that hop around the yard…

He reminds me a lot of some of the producers I have met over the years in Italy (see lost in pettinengo post/cheese genius…), It’s all about passion for your product, time and patience and you (the consumer) have to be in the right place at the right time…I feel very privileged to have had this experience…

other foody posts on this blog:

restaurant still lives

few flowered recipes

first forage of the season

nose to tail and farajullas


cocido gallego


returning to the matanza


chocolate con churros

pani puri sunday

cicchetti tea-break



further adventures in foraging

revelations in a milanese restaurant

braid burn

cooking the haul



more foodie questions

foodie questions

nose to tail,

(s)light relief,

pulpo a la gallega

the matanza

morcilla and dying arts

jamòn serrano