Picky eaters wouldn’t enjoy percebes. Like all sea creatures expensive and tough to eat, they taste like sea and not much else. A shot of lukewarm tide pool water might be just as delicious if you haven’t been raised on these Nordic goose barnacles. Eating them requires tough finger nails and a bib, a tray for the rejected, sucked-on, juice-less shells once the single cubic centimeter or so of meat has been consumed. You must break off the pale mint dinosaur scale on top of each barnacle, and then slurp at the wrinkled tube-like flesh to find the reward. I don’t think it’s all the work that would dissuade the picky eater (I’ve always thought working while you eat can be one of the most fun aspects of consumption), but rather the appearance of the percebe. Nobody has ever explicitly said it around me –which is surprising because Spaniards are vocal about nearly everything from the chinos that run the dollar store empires, to the rumored coital health of disliked neighbors– but percebes look like little crinkled dog erections with a shell on top.
The resemblance is so obvious to me (a person who has never had a dog, and has only those childhood memories of a best friend’s dog getting “horndoggy” and sticking out it’s penis-tongue to base my comparison on); and I can only imagine that a dog owner, or someone who has a penchant for terriers and small dogs will notice the erectile resemblance. Maybe Spaniards don’t talk about it because they’re newer to dogs as pets; for the most part, dogs there have served as pastoral guards of land, incessantly barking and scruffy. It wasn’t until the 90s that they became leashed and cute.
The only other thing, I think, that doesn’t come up over jovial lunches, albariño abounding, is the civil war.
a little ana maria shua i translated for you: