Gathering Goose Barnacles in Rushing Waters, Spain
Although barnacles are mainly known as a nuisance to sailors, they can also be a delicacy for diners. Goose barnacles (or “percebes”), once thought to be part of the mollusk family, are actually crustaceans, and have a sweet, succulent, and lobster-like consistency and flavor. Gathering them, however, is a difficult and dangerous duty. Three-person fishing teams along the rugged shoreline and rocky island outcrops of northwestern Spain obtain the barnacles via a complicated method involving ropes and rowboats. With one person manning the vessel, another ties a rope around his or her waist and takes up station on a rock near the water’s edge. Using special tools, that fisherman then pries the barnacles free. The third fisherman grasps the rope from atop the rock as a safeguard, and watches for impending waves in order to warn his or her partner before he or she is hit with a breaker. Being swept into the sea is always a large possibility, but the reward — upwards of $80 per pound — is apparently worth it. For some people, at least.