MERA, Oleiros, La Coruna (JNS) _ We decide at the last minute to eat at Rosario's. We're shopping at the Haley's in Santa Cruz _ a supermarket-department store _ and I call her on my new tiny cellphone.
She's there, so I buy baby back ribs _ 3.75 euros for two-plus racks, or about 4.50 euros/kg; a kilo of large razor clams similar to navajas but called something like longanheiros; 6 chorizos; salad vegetables ; cheese and bread, all for 28 euros.
While navajas are usually cooked a la plancha, grilled on a griddle, I plan to cook them over the same coals over which I'll prepare the ribs and serve them first as an appetizer.
We get to Rosario's and she's not there. I wonder, while lighting a pine cone to start the kindling, if I misunderstood her. She eventually comes back and is happy to see I started the fire _ in the small room off the back of her house that used to hold the brick bread oven, but now is used for barbecuing. She also mentions longanheiros can be sandy so they have to be rinsed well.
Clams and other shellfish like those used to be much more plentiful, she says.
"Ainda no hay como antes. Despois de una tormenta na praia estaba cheo da zapateros. Fung ali moitos veces a coller para fai un empanada," she says.
"Still, it's not like before. After a storm the beach used to be full of zapateros (so named because they were as big as a shoe). I went many times to get them to make an empanada."
Getting navajas is a little more difficult.
They live about a meter deep in the sand, but they aren't dug up. You find the hole they make and thread a barbed wire down the hole. When the clam feels the wire it retreats back into its shell, bringing the wire inside and the clam can then be pulled to the surface.
The wood has now burned down to coals, so I put oil, garlic and salt on the razor clams. I cook them until they open, decide it's not enough and put them back on some more. The smaller navajas are sweeter and more tender, but these are good. The ribs are excellent with nothing more than salt on them.
We drink the remaining liter of wine from the sardinada the night before. The beach event is part of the Virgin del Carmen festiival. Wood is given away to light fires on the beach and sardines, wine and bread are sold and bands stroll through the streets.
Three euros buys eight sardines and about a quarter loaf of pan de broa - a corn and flour bread. The wine is a cloudy unfiltered white (ribeiro) sold in refilled 2-liter soda bottles for 3 euros (juvenile and slightly fizzy). Some people bring their own wlne and tables and grills and chairs _ almost a tailgate party. We borrow a grill and large turning fork from Rosario and use the bread as our plate.