“Percebe” in Spanish and “lamperna” in basque

Goose barnacles in the Basque Country is one of those strange things that are eaten in northern Spain. It is a seafood that grows on the most exposed rocks of the North Atlantic Ocean from Portugal and northern Spain to the coasts of France and the United Kingdom. It needs very rich and wild seas. This type of barnacle grows in the heart of the cliffs in its most inaccessible cracks, where the waves beat without stopping. This type of molluscs are found clinging to the rock and remain immobile, that is to say that they do not move. They grow in colonies of numerous individuals and hey have a head protected by a shell where resides what may look like a crab. With this part it filters the water and obtains its food. They feed on the plankton of the sea. The part more appreciated by the gastronomy is the muscular part that unites the mollusk to the rock. . It is a very fleshy and juicy part of the mollusk.

How they collect it from the rocks?

It is a risky profession since the “percebeiros” must go down to the rocks tied up with a safety harness and take advantage of the moments when the waves are not coming. At that moment they descend into the crevice and begin to collect the mollusks. Their companion who is in the highest part warns him of when the waves come. At that moment the “percebeiro” goes up again to the high part of the rock and waits for the sea to go down again. It is very risky but the price may be worth it because the market price per kilo is between 60€ and 120€. Depending on the origin and size of the specimens. The bigger the better!

How to cook them?

It’s very simple, you put water with salt(70 grames per liter) in a pot and heat it up until it is boiling. If you want you can add a bay leaf to give a special aroma. When the water boils, add the barnacles, at that moment it will stop boiling. Immediately when it starts boiling again wait for 1 minute and the “barnacles” are removed to a plate. We recommend opening a bottle of white wine such as a bottle of Txakoli from Guetaria.

What can be said about its taste? It is as if you eat a bit of sea. It tastes like the sea!


Video of the percebes fishing in Galicia, the gaelic part of Spain.


YouTube video

Sometimes the weather in San Sebastian can be very adverse. The city is located in front of the Atlantic Ocean, so sea storms have a strong impact on the city. It is spectacular to see the waves crashing against the walls of the city but although it is a very dangerous spectacle. Every year some of the city’s infrastructure are damage by the power of the waves so once the storm is over, is rebuilt as soon as possible.

Some waves can reach to 15 meters in height and crash hopelessly against the rocks and cliffs which is a spectacle worth admiring. Always keeping a safe distance since the waves can make you disappear in a moment. The safest area to admire the strength of the waves is the Mount Urgul which is located over La Concha bay and the Paseo Nuevo. As local Donostiarras we are fascinated by the beauty of the sea and its storms so every year we come to see and feel the fury of the Atlantic sea in the first row. Always with the camera ready to capture that moment when the wave hits the city and jumps the splash of water up to 50 meters above our heads.

When the waves are not so dangerous a perfect place to admire their beauty is “El Peine de los Vientos” this esculpture is located at the end of the bay, on Ondarreta beach. In this idyllic place of San Sebastian you can admire the masterpiece of the artist Eduardo Chillida at the same time you keep an eye in the horizon to see where are the waves coming from and avoid getting completely wet. Very close there is a resturant called Branka where you can hide from the winds and drink a cofee admiring the views over the city.

As you can see even in winter with the worst weather conditions the people of san sebastian go out to enjoy their city. We are waiting for you also in one of those rainy days.


YouTube video