Monday, June 08, 2009

Mystery food

Several years ago when I was on a whirlwind trip to Paris with my good friend L in the middle of the winter, we spent a lot of time and money enjoying French food. We also enjoyed the displays of food that greeted us everywhere we went. In particular, we were curious about something we saw among the sidewalk shellfish called “pousse-pieds.” We may also have beens served this delicacy, but indeed the image of it has lingered on and we have wondered if it would ever surface again.

My friend L is currently on a trip to Spain, where she once again sighted this unusual food. She immediately sent me the above photo and asked me to see if I could unravel the mystery.

Actually the Internet is much better for this type of thing than it was in 2003, when we first saw these little barnacle-like shellfish in France. From this site, I learned that they are also served in Spain as “percebes” and in English they have the unromantic name of “goose-neck barnacles”. They are indeed a luxury food, costing more than even lobster or crab.

One Internet site hinted that you can now get them in Oregon, but I somewhat doubt I will ever see them on the east coast. So the next time I get a craving for pousse-pieds, I will simply have to go to France or Spain to get them!

Have you ever encountered this unusual product of the sea? If so, can you describe the taste?


Blogger bulletholes said...

Made me think about Periwinkles. used to serve those at chefs Tables at the Hyatt.
When we had an important client we were trying to get their business, sometimes so big that the Mayor and Chamber of Commerce would be involved, we would set up a Table, usually for 12-18 in the middle of the kitchen and serve a five Course meal. Very formal, with the sole intent to impress the client beyond infinity. Chef sits at the head of the table, explains each dish, lots of toasts and stuff, while Staff is at the top of thewir game and all the usual Kitchen Activities take place.

Used to serve Periwinkles a lot at those for a year or two.
Never heard of a Gooseneck Barnacle though.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

BH -- I thought periwinkles were flowers. Can you describe? It would be fun to eat with a chef, but something tells me I really don't want to know what goes on in most restaurant kitchens...

1:35 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...


What goes on in most Restaurant kitchens? Well you work fast with lots of food and you clean as you go. Tables get wiped down constanly, trash gets emptied and a guy comes through with a broom all the time. Sanitation is a huge part of the job, and you keep towel for wiping in a sanitizing solution so that every time you reach for a towel, you have sanitized your hands.
I hear stories,about what goes on in most restaurant kitchens, but I've never seen any of it happen.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Terry Grant said...

Hmmm. I have not seen these in Oregon, except for stuff that looks very like this clinging to rocks along the beach! My son works in the seafood dept. at Safeway. I will ask him if he's ever seen them.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Steve Reed said...

I've never seen these before. Those crazy French people will eat anything! (I say that with love. Really. :) )

I'll ask Dave about them, since French cooking is his thing.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Now I'm really confused. The Oregon pousse-pieds, also called salicornia, is a salt-marsh succulent. Whereas the French-Spanish pousse-pieds are animals that live in rather unique barnacle shells.

10:12 PM  
Blogger karen said...

I'm not a seafood person at all, but I think it sounds like a good enough excuse to go on a European holiday to find them!

7:06 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I've never had them at all. Despite the vegetarianism, I do occasionally eat seafood. Sometimes. Not much... I'm no help at all!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Steve Reed said...

Dave has no idea what these are, either.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- When you and Dave go to Europe on your French eating extravaganza as I'm sure you will, you will simply have to try some pousse-pieds and report back!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Mary L. Tabor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mary L. Tabor said...


I think I did see them in Paris at the market on Sunday at Bastille that I describe, where I bought needle and thread! but didn't have the nerve or the French to ask what they were. Now I know! What a great blog you have here. I love it! And the gift of making me a link on it makes me believe in Santa this a.m. I haven't figured out how to do that, but will try now that I am not teaching this semester and have more time to write.

I would love to meet you!


8:56 AM  

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