Sow’s ears

Sorry I haven’t posted for several days. I always need to find a reliable source for Wifi and it isn’t always available when walking the Camino.

I was in Orense and trying all sort of tapas, including Pig’s ears. Three generation from the family run this restaurant including a nineteen-year-old who is washing these ears with a nobbled glove.

Just had to try the specialty. Can’t say I really liked it, although I want to post this photo to horrify my vegetarian friends.


And this photo, with glass held high, is to horrify my non-drinking friends. Seriously though, a brilliant local red wine – chilled somewhat to hide its many imperfections, but deliciously crisp. Obviously I am enjoying it, especially having walked 45 kilometres today. Just another 40 and I arrive in Santiago de Compostela.


However, I digress. There is the saying that you can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. I am going to disagree. Although I wasn’t totally enamoured with the recipe for the pig’s ears – they were rather gelatinous with a touch of gristle – there is an equitable solution. You can change the recipe: I would have partially poached the ears and then used a dry heat, such as a grill to crisp them to perfection. Then the sow’s ears would have become my very own silk purse. One can often find the supremely divine in the ordinary. A little creativity is in order.


The walking continues to be perfection. I would have stayed another night in Ourense, but it suddenly dawned on me that today was May 1st and a national holiday: many places would be closed, possibly including my new favourite restaurant. I would walk to a small town called Cea, which is renowned for its artisanal breads.


Although the walking a distance is a comparatively small 21.6 kilometres, there is a three-kilometres stretch of road which is at 5:1 gradient. It’s in meeting the challenges of such rapid elevation that I realize that the seventeen-year-old that I see each morning in the mirror is not in such physically good condition.


I had met some French who had told me that they were going to stop off the following day at an ancient Cistercian monastery at Oseira. That appealed to my sense of my search for calm.  It was to be a mere 9 kilometres. That would be a change from the usual 25 kilometre plus that I walk each day. I always walk alone, but somehow set off in the wrong direction. I easily get sidetracked by the beauty of the scenery so such practicalities as whether I am traveling towards where I should be heading seems to take second place. To me, it is the journey rather than the destination. By the time that I realized my mistake, I ended up walking a full 25 kilometre journey. 


This Cistercian community make their living by making wine, sparkling wine and my favourite beverage of the moment, aquadiente. Perhaps I might spy on their endeavours and learn the secrets to the recipes passed down over the years. They also make chocolate.


 I ended up being the only guest staying at the monastery and was invited to attend vespers. There seem to be about eight or nine resident monks ranging in age from thirties to eighties. What I sense is that possibly with time and devotion, the monks seem to develop a quirkiness which probably doesn’t make easy such close living together. Also, spending such time with head bent leads to extreme cervical kyphosis. I would recommend some star-gazing to help develop unused neck muscles.  Still, I admire the creativity of their beverage making. The Church throughout history has always seemed to have the requisite skills to produce something extremely palatable. The only exception, if it were even Church produced, was the partially unfermented sugary production of Blue Nun. Sounds as if someone was corrupted along the way.


My French friends didn’t show up. Still, I slept well in this large cavernous outhouse attached to the monastery.

Monk’s quarters


I love the creativity of these people and the products that they make, but am not ready yet to take Holy Orders in order to learn such secrets.


Perhaps the above is where I would agree that you can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.


A full day of walking from Oseira to Silleda. Wonderful twenty degree temperatures to accompany. A little on the warm side but an improvement from the temperatures in southern Spain.