Bar snacks in Galicia take on a whole new meaning. At first, I thought it was some special treatment we were getting because we were hanging out with the locals. Now, a week into the journey, I've realized it's insidious and systemic. They're trying to kill me with food.
Bars in Galicia -- proper bars, complete with coffee maker, an assortment of beers, wines, and a healthy collection of liquor bottles -- also have kitchens. But you won't find menus. Nor will you find cooks. But you will find a constant supply of tapas -- small plates -- flowing out of the kitchen and being placed in front of patrons. The food prep is, from what I've seen, handled by the proprietor of the bar.
Please understand I'm not talking about peanuts and potato chips, though those aren't uncommon. I mean tapas, specially and lovingly prepared, delivered to your table or spot at the bar without ever having to ask. And whether you're hungry or not.
Ñeto, the proprietor of some bar I can't recall the name of right now, brought out plate after plate of light little crêpes with bits of ham in them. It's a good thing they were light, as I devoured about a dozen of them. Then he brought out some chorizo and bread, a signature dish of the region. When we finally communicated that Sheila was a vegetarian, he brought out some cheese and bread for her. Not that we asked, mind you. He was puzzled why she was the only one in the group not eating his food. He would not be denied!
Ruben, proprietor of cafe o sotano, served up some lovely thin slices of chargrilled pork one night. I'm pretty sure I hid in a corner until it was devoured. So good! We stopped in a few days later for a single beer, and he promptly placed two pots of manitas de ministro in front of us. Now, we'd just eaten a full meal some 30 minutes ago. But I'm not one to look gift pig's feed in the mouth, so down the hatch they went! Doubly so, as I had to make it look like Sheila had eaten some of hers as not to offend poor Ruben!
And here's the crazy part: not only are you getting all this free food, but the beers are cheap! Like, a single Euro cheap. That's a pretty low profit margin to be plying your guests with delicious, high quality food. Clearly I need to do more research. It's the polite thing to do!
I could get used to this Galician lifestyle. Though I may need to start working out.