A Little More Galician

Our first taste of living in Galicia came from our next door neighbor, Maricarmen. Our gate opened as the moving trucks were on the font lawn. And a small woman in an apron and rubber boots pushing an ancient wheelbarrow filled with vegetables made her way to us. This was just the first of a hundred such visits in the next two years.

Maricarmen is a gardener extraordinaire. The fact that I knew nothing of growing my own food made us even stranger than we already were. If you visit Galicia, especially walking the Camino through towns and villages from O Cebreiro to Santiago, you will notice every house has a vegetable garden. All sporting the national vegetable of Galicia, the Brussel Sprout.

Jeff and I could be forgiven for not having a garden the first year. We arrived past planting season. But we didn’t have one the second year, either. I was walking across Spain during garden planting season. So, yet again, last year Maricarmen supplied our vegetables all spring, summer, and into autumn. We reciprocate, of course. Maricarmen receives a gigantic food hamper from El Corte Ingles each holiday season. Complete with a jamón leg and other delights. And we keep her yard for her. Still, it doesn’t feel like a fair trade. Her vegetables are invaluable.

Grocery stores in our area have very small produce sections. Because everyone grows their own food. But not Kelli and Jeff – Those Americans! Until now.

That’s right, baby! I planted a garden this year like a real Galician. When they were plowing the field next door to plant corn, the guy in the tractor waved. First time. He saw that we are attempting to live like everyone else. If planting a little late. But, it’s harvest time! Well, really, it will be harvest time until November. Depending upon the crop. But the radishes were ready to pick today, and Fergus and I went out this morning to pick them.

There is something about harvesting food from the garden that you have grown from seed. A huge sense of accomplishment. After gathering an arm load of radishes – Jeff’s fav – I brought them into the house and cleaned them up. Jeff was shocked at the volume. But this is a fraction of the radishes I have left to harvest. Then, I proudly marched myself over to Maricarmen’s and presented her with a sack of radishes. I smiled broadly like the winner of the 5th grade science fair, basking in the glow of the appropriate ‘ahhs’ while she examined the contents of the bag and praised my green thumb. Granted, radishes aren’t a huge seller here, as folks don’t like spicy food. But, I figure it’s the thought that counts. Kind of like when she brought us a rabbit that she had caught, killed, cleaned, and skinned. I had never eaten an animal that grew up wild in my front yard, before. But we adapt.

Handing those radishes over to Maricarmen was one of my proudest moments since we moved to Spain. I think she is a little surprised I could grow something. But, I believe it speaks to my hearty gene pool. I might be a generally agriculturally inept American, but I am a descendant of farmers. I can grow things, too. Sometimes. Even contribute to my neighbors dinner tables. A real member of the community. Just wait until Chus comes to clean the house tomorrow!! She’ll go home with a sack of radishes, too. Probably stop on the way home to tell her cousins in the village. And I’ll stand a little taller when I walk through town. Because I have a producing vegetable garden now, just like everyone else. And I’m a little more Galician because of it.

3 thoughts on “A Little More Galician

  • And if you really want to impress Gallegos, plant potatoes and grelos (turnips). Everybody and their brother plants potatoes and grelos around here. They use the leaves of the grelos in caldo and cocido. You can see it growing even in winter. I think grelos is bitter so I use kale in caldo. We have a small garden with tomatoes, padrón peppers and jalapeños (🤞if they ever sprout). So I guess we’re both Gallega gardeners. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  • I love it! There is something cathartic about a garden and frankly, I did not care for tomatoes until I started harvesting them from my garden. Now I cannot get enough of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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