Ever had gooseneck barnacle meat?

I had the great fortune to be in Porto, Portugal last week, and while I was there, I ate my very first (gooseneck) barnacles. They are bizarre and delicious sea creatures that you really should experience at least once in your life. Yes, they look super weird. And yes, they are fodder for sophomoric humor (and yes, I partook in such humor). They take some effort to get into (thank you to the nice server who showed us how to crack it open and eat it!), but once you figure it out, they are super yummy and worth the effort! They taste briny and chewy, in the best of ways.

Here’s a very cool video I found about gooseneck barnacles and why they are one of the most expensive seafoods in the world. Barnacles are difficult and dangerous to harvest, and an average of five barnacle harvesters (percebeiros) die every year “trying to scrape these high-priced crustaceans off the rocks on parts of the Spanish and Portugese coasts.” One coastal area of Spain is called “Costa de la Muerte” (Coast of Death) because so many barnacle harvesters have died there over the last five centuries.

Before today, I had no idea barnacles were so expensive (the plate we had was priced similarly to the sardines we ordered) nor that they were so dangerous and even deadly to harvest. Sadly, my first barnacle experience might also be my last.

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