well, so does he actually!
The autumn, winter and early spring (the months with an ‘r’ in them) are the time to savour the shelly delights of the Bay of Biscay seashore. The local species of crustaceans are sturdy creatures that have to survive the powerful tides and cold currents along this coastline and are all the more savoury for that.
The most popular shellfish in Gijón are the common crab, velvet swimming crab and spider crab (respectively, buey de mar, andaricas or necoras, and centollo del Cantábrico), in increasing order of price for the consumer. For those on a more buoyant budget, of course, there are also magnificent examples of lobster, both the European lobster (bogavante or bugre) with its distinctive, meaty claws and the spiny lobster or crawfish (langosta).
However, if there is one single seafood that defines the local taste, it is sea urchins (oricios) or sea hedgehogs as they used to be known. The bright orange roe are a more affordable version of caviar, in addition to being a rich source of iodine. Some of the most fervent devotees even eat them raw… innards included!, although the most usual way of serving up these spiny delicacies is to boil them lightly and then slice the shell in half horizontally using a specially designed pair of shears. After scooping out the roe with a spoon, you should let the tiny corals dissolve on your tongue to truly appreciate their intense flavour.
There is also a growing canning industry surrounding this delicatessen, with a number of local firms marketing the roe in different sized cans. Well worth the price to add the flavour of the Cantabrian Sea to omelettes, scrambled eggs and sauces. However, if you fancy trying them fresh at home, and don’t want the spiny mess of boiling them, here’s a useful tip: cook them in the microwave oven, mouth upward, for a minute or so and then cut them open vertically starting at the mouth using a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors.
Enjoy! Or as they say in Spain… ¡Qué aproveche!