Plunge into the secrets of the sea
What do you know about the world of fishing? Do you know how people fished in ancient times? What does a day in the life of a team of fishermen look like? How many species of fish are fit for consumption beyond the most common ones? Can we find them in our local fishmonger’s? All these questions and so many more can be answered thanks to the various fishing tourism initiatives promoted by several municipalities along the Girona coastline. From Roses to Blanes, via L’Escala, Llançà and Palamós, they all aim to boost the local economy through fishing-related projects.
Today we’re in Palamós. The shimmering seawater makes you squint as you step into the Espai del Peix, where we have come to attend a cooking demonstration and tasting starring horned octopus and European flying squid. In this space, they only cook dishes made with local fish, following recipes passed down by fishermen working along the Costa Brava. If you’re in luck, it may even be a fisherman who leads the demonstration. We sit at tables decorated with drawings of the fish found along our coasts, and when the burners ignite we watch the monitors closely as the chef gets to work. Every last detail is designed to promote and increase the value of the fish we have off our coasts, especially the types that market-goers tend to avoid due to a lack of familiarity.
With the air still filled with the mouth-watering smell of octopus, onion and potato, not to mention the squid and rice casserole, we head off to visit the fish auction. It’s just below, in the port of Palamós. This activity has now spread to other Catalan fish markets and allows visitors to discover where the fish goes from the time it’s unloaded by the fishermen on the quayside until it’s distributed to fishmongers’ shops and restaurants. The silence in the room is surprising as fishmongers and restaurateurs alike sit and watch boxes overflowing with all kinds and sizes of fish being brought in. They inspect, make their choices, pay and leave. The audio guide helps us understand the process.
The cooking workshops and demonstrations, and the auction and fish market visits, are all experiences curated to raise awareness around fishing culture, its authenticity and its importance for the region, especially for those municipalities steeped in fishing tradition. The same is true of the activities that take place on an authentic fishing vessel and the tavern breakfasts hosted in the company of real fishermen.
Whatever activity you choose, you will come away with a fresh outlook on the world of fishing. Not only that, you will be eager to head to the fishmonger’s to ask about this fish or that crustacean; to order mackerel, European flying squid or blue whiting, or to enquire about how to cook forkbeard a la marinière.
Want to browse all the possibilities on offer to get a taste of the sea? Go to www.xarxabrava.cat.