Saturday 25 August 2012

A Gander at Goose Barnacles

The fascinating organisms pictured, are goose barnacles. We found them, while on holiday, washed up on the otherwise uniformly empty and sandy shore of Boyndie bay.

We had never seen goose barnacles before and found them quite beautiful, if a little alien. Although we didn't attempt to eat them I wondered if they would be anything like the barnacles that the Spanish, particularly of the Galicia region, risk life and limb to collect from wave-battered rocky inlets. Because of the great difficulty and danger involved in collecting them, the Spanish variety - known as percebes - fetch premium prices in their bustling fish markets.

It looks like the ones we found were the pelagic gooseneck barnacle variety Lepas anatifera. The stems of these are, apparently, edible. But, because the stems are so thin and not very meaty, they would probably just be a load of messy hassle to prepare. The Spanish variety, in stark and expensive contrast, are apparently simple to cook - just boil up for a few minutes in some sea-water - and deliciously salt-meaty. Just be sure to pull the crunchy head off.

I have just read, with some incredulity, that goose barnacles are so-called because it was thought in the (I hope distant) past that Barnacle Geese developed from them! Tiny geese, spontaneously erupted from the driftwood, one day to fledge and take flight: charmingly naive notion on the one hand and disturbing autogenesis-like concept on the other.

Well we did say they looked alien.

Monday 13 August 2012

Life's Baleen Good

A big boat off the Banffshire coast
by fitaloon (sourced from Flickr)
It's cloudier today, with a curiously warm east wind pushing a swell in towards Gastrobeach. The swell made for interesting swimming conditions yesterday: It had churned up seaweed and sand murk from the bottom of the wee cove, so I couldn't really see what I was swimming through. Being carried back towards shore by rolling waves was fun despite the several mouthfuls of salty water I scooped up along the way. Just give me some baleen and I could filter-feed.

A summer (so far) of sea, celebration and spectacular sunshine. All, as you would expect, a bit fishy too. Shiny new memories glittering like a line-full of darrow-hooked mackerel.

We headed north-east at the start of the holidays, to stay once again at the tiny fishermans' cottage, and indulge in a week of fresh seafood and coconut ice-cream. My menu for the week turned out something like this:
  • Saturday - out to the chippy for scampi, chips and a bottle of too-sweet rose wine (from the Spar across the street)
  • Sunday - hmm, didn't write that one down, so it must have been meat
  • Monday - smoked hake with salsa and oatcakes, followed by rock turbot in a cream sauce with roasted tomato salad on the side
  • Tuesday - mussels cooked in white wine and garlic, followed by sea bass in a teriyaki/balsamic/chili reduction
  • Wednesday - dressed crab, then skate with a lemon butter and caper sauce
  • Thursday - fresh hake with herb butter, followed by that very special coconut ice-cream
  • Friday - didn't write that one down either, but I think it was a large bag of prawns cooked in garlic butter
While I'm making lists I will create one about some of the inferences we can draw from the above:
  1. We ate a lot of (excellent) food
  2. We were not on any (recognisable) form of low-fat diet
  3. We were (unequivocally) spoiled
  4. While I have no particular problem with the lingering odour of fish and garlic, Glade will not be marketing that particular fragrance any time soon.
Now we're back home, and work beckons. But the Perseid meteor shower on a balmy, midge-free August evening was a rather special way to round off the holidays.