A Galician Culture Lesson in 8 Words

BrookeDOFerreiro

 

Galicia, in Northern Spain near the Portugese border is a region I’m fascinated with and continue to return to. You can read about many of the things to do or my experiences in Galicia elsewhere on this blog, but in this post I thought I’d share a little culture in the form of defining some of the Galician words you are sure to see/hear if you visit the region (but unless you knew them ahead of time you wouldn’t recognize them!) and spend time with locals. Keep in mind that much of the Galician language is the same or very similar to Portugese (this is a surprise to many) and these two cultures share more similarities than the rest of Spain does with Galicia.

Adega

The Galician (and Portugese) word for Bodega (Spanish) or winery. Keep an eye out for signs that say ‘Adega’ when driving through Galicia-there are a lot of great vineyards and wineries. If you see Adega though, you know that they also make wine, and don’t just own vineyards and sell fruit (and therefore there’s a chance you can taste their wines).

Feira

The Galician word for Festival (or fair). Usually to do with some sort of food tradition, special dish or product that’s harvest locally. And man do the Galicians love a good fair! Here’s a list of some of the most popular fairs/feiras (ferias in Spanish).

Pulpoafeira

 

Pulpo

Octopus. THE regional dish in Galicia! You will find pulpo ‘a feira’ everywhere in Galicia. This is a dish of sliced octopus drizzled in oil, served on a round wooden platter and seasoned with paprika. Another way that’s common to serve pulpo is ‘a la plancha’ which means grilled instead of boiled so you get a bit more black charred tentacles and crispiness (my personal favorite).

Pazo

The name for a traditional house or manor house in Galicia. Typically owned by nobility. Normally named for the original estate owner (Pazo de …………..) and then never changed after that, even if ownership changes. Sometimes its been so many hundreds of years that the current owners have no idea who the original estate was named after. If you’re in Rias Baixas area (near Pontevedra or Cambados) try visiting Pazo de Señorans  which is an impressive estate as well as an excellent winery (or Adega).

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horreo

A traditional raised building (that looks like almost like an old stone house) that Galicians used for centuries to store crops (mostly corn or grains) and keep them dry and safe from rats (thus the heighth)

Cuncas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cunca 

Small ceramic bowls from which wine was traditionally drunk in Galicia. You don’t often see these in bars or restaurants anymore (even in Galicia) but if you search out some of the  old school places that focus on ‘traditional’ Galician food and drink or furanchos (see definition below)

gaita 

The word for a Galicia bagpipe. Yes Galicians play bagpipes! There are a lot of remnants of Celtic culture in Galicia……. You will see Galician gaita players at almost every traditional Galician event (and not for tourism purposes!). Check out a video of a Galician gaita player here.

furancho 

A simple Galician eating establishment -usually set up below someone’s home in their cellar. Originally started by farmers who had excess juice or wine to sell after the harvest. Typically these places serve simple, hearty local fare and a super limited menu (just a few plates that they specialize in). Furanchos are the types of places that serve wine in cuncas and where you sit at a long rough hewn table with benches. They aren’t fine dining-but offer a great glimpse into traditional Galician culture and affordable local eats!

 

Want to know more about Galicia? Check out my more detailed post on the most compelling reasons to visit Galicia

 

 

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17 Comments

  • Hi Brooke,
    Great looking octopus dish! I checked out your write up about the region on the World To Travel site. Are the photos yours? They’re great. One thing that might be nice on this post is an image of a map showing where the region is for those who don’t know…? 🙂

    • Hi Chandi-

      1/3 of the photos are mine on that World to Travel post-the rest they added because they are photographers who live in Galicia! 🙂 Good point about the map. I do have one in one of my suggested itinerary posts on my blog but not in every post-should add one (or a line about where the region is in Spain) just to give context to those who haven’t heard of it (outside Spain & Portugal and other nearby countries its not a region many people know or would know by the name -though they’ve probably heard of the famous Camino de Santiago which ends there)

  • I visited A Coruña several years ago and found it to be different to anywhere else I’d been in Spain! Unfortunately I didn’t and still don’t speak Spanish but here’s a starting point!

    • well this won’t help you with Spanish but at least you’ll know what to ask for when in Galicia (Galician is much more like Portugese than Spanish)! 🙂

  • Aw I’m so happy to see this! Mom and I walked the Camino this year and spent a lot of time in Galicia! We loved it and so many of these brought back fond memories. We passed the Horreo and ate plenty of pulpo. Incidentally, we were served wine from cunca in a small place in Caldas de Reis. Very traditional.

    • Una- awesome! I would love to do part of the Camino with my mom (we both love hiking). Such a cool way to pass by parts of the countryside you’d otherwise miss though eh? How else would you have found the places using cuncas! 🙂

  • Hi ,

    that was a great little language course I got here and I am sure on my next trip I will visit an Adega for drinking some Wine from a Horreo just to finish of with some delicious pulpo 😉
    Thank you a lot for this article.

    Greetings
    Amelie

  • Thanks for the fun Galician culture lesson. I’m all about the Adegas. 🙂 I love the idea of a furancho. Having a meal with someone in their cellar sounds cool.

    • agreed! I happened into a furancho before I knew what one was-my boyfriend’s family (he’s Galician) have a favorite spot they like to eat together when they go out for pulpo and it was a super simple place in the countryside with big rough hewn tables with benches and wine served in cuncas. My boyfriend told me afterwards, that it was called a furancho and the story of how these got started in Galicia. You wouldn’t know one existed unless you were taken there by a local typically! But you can certainly ask a Galician where a good one is 🙂

  • I thought it was really cool to read they play bagpipes! It’s so interesting to see how so many cultures intermingle over the centuries, and seeing which part stays, what goes, and what gets transformed into something new!

  • SUCH a great post! I love learning different words in other countries and also about their culture. It’s so interesting that the homesteads will keep the name of the original owner, thats one way to leave a legacy and not fade out of existence!

    • thank you Samantha! I agree-its so cool to leave a place knowing more about a culture you previously didn’t know much about. Galicia is one of those places (like so many in this world) that is full of stories, traditions and cultural shifts over the centuries. It seems though, that in Galicia, you are closer to some of these than in other more touristed areas. Almost as if time has moved more slowly……and that’s a beautiful thing

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