Winding our way down the hill, the view of thick, green pine forests slowly fades away to be replaced by the blinding colors of the sea and port. Before us stands a mishmash of colorful terracotta-roofed huts, stacked up on steep cobblestoned paths that lead to the seafront. The view is stunning: reminiscent of Italy’s Amalfi Coast but without the hordes of tourists and flashy hotels.
We are in Cudillero, a quiet fishing village embedded in a craggy bay off the coastline of Asturias. Instead of approaching the town from ground level, we are seeing it from above – clambering our way over the hill to descend down into the heart of town. The walk is a scenic one as we thread the zig-zag paths, catching glimpses of the beach and greeting friendly locals along the way.
Seafood in Asturias
Our gregarious guide, Hugo from Guias Tour Asturias, leads us through the streets of Cudillero to explore some of its secrets. Our first stop is a small fishmonger stand by the port, with an impressive array of seafood on offer: from the very expensive €290/kg percebes (barnacles) to the red-shelled crab Centolla and the prickly erizo (sea urchins). All fresh from the sea, wriggling with life.
The percebes are some of the most expensive seafoods found in Spain. As these barnacles are extremely difficult to fish and found only during certain periods of the year, they come at a hefty price. The Centolla crab is predominantly found in the Galicia region, but also in parts of Asturias. When steamed, the crab’s eggs are outrageously tasty especially when soaked in garlic gravy.
A Look into the Fishermen’s Life
Asturias is seafood country – thanks to its location along the Mar Cantabrico (Cantabrian Sea). Since the 1970s, this area has been home to a sizable fishing community. During our visit to Cudilleros, we meet up with Salvador Fernandez Marques, the head of the fishing community. Having started fishing since the ripe age of 14, Salvador is an expert in both the trade and the geographical area.
Speaking with much enthusiasm, Salvador shares with us how the fishing community has changed over the years. “Back in the 1980s, when the fishing industry here thrived, there were over 1,000 fishermen and 230 boats in this area. These days, there are only 60 fishermen left.” Technology has inevitably replaced human resources, leaving many of them stranded with no livelihood.
Fortunately, a European Project is on its way to revive the fishing craft – Living Lab aims to modernize fishing techniques to make the trade more relevant in today’s changing world.
To see more of my photos from Asturias, click on any of the images above or go to my online gallery.