Archive for September, 2007

Origin of escargot

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

Wikipedia tells me that Catalan is the origin of the French and posh English word for snail, escargot. This would be a corruption of “es cargol – the snail”, the es being the salat definite article still used in the Balearics and parts of the Costa Brava, once more widespread in Catalan and Gascon speaking areas.

Forest fires in Spain at lowest level for ten years

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

This year’s cool and damp summer in much of Spain has helped to bring forest fires down to their lowest level for 10 years, and 68% less than the 10-year average. August was distinctly cool in Castilla y León, Galicia and Asturias, and there were moderate temperatures in the rest with ample rain. Specifically, 26,951 hectares of “forest” were burnt compared in the first six months of the year compared to 68,673 last year, with the Canaries fire accounting for 77.5%. Perhaps improved fire-fighting measures have helped too. We shall see. More on fire in Spain and its causes

(El Pais)

Catalan snail eating

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Simon Rice has written for me this great guide to Catalan food. Here is on Catalan snails:

Cargols – snails: dozens of small snails are washed and arranged open side up in special tin trays, olive oil is drizzled over them and the whole baked over an open fire and served with alioli or romesco or both as a dip. This dish is called cargols a la llauna and is a speciality of Lleida province, as indeed are many more snail dishes. As the snails are easy to collect after rain and are freebies, something close to the Catalan heart, the whole thing soon becomes a party with whooping children running amuck in a collecting frenzy and Hey Presto! You have a cargolada ! NB the snails don’t have a chance to clean themselves, i.e. to empty their horrible little bowels, before their cremation, so there’s a knack to nibbling the ‘flesh’ of from the ‘gut’ which is left on the end of your picking stick – personally I find the whole thing disgusting! ”

Sueve Mountains

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

I stayed in this lovely house which is part of a working farm on the edge of the Sueve Mountains in Asturias this August and fully recommend it. Cristina and her family are very friendly and knowledgeable about the area and nature in general and pointed out the herd of roe deer which grazed in the back field every evening. They have fresh-farm produce and free-range eggs. Fox and wild boar (which I saw very close up) are common. Barn owl in the chuch tower opposite.

The house lies between the picturesque hamlets of San Román and Villa, the latter with a great bar. The countryside is idyllic with rolling hills, green fields and lovely villages each with their quota of hórreos, and there are wonderful views of the Sierra de Sueve. The blight of eucalyptus is almost absent.

Environmental groups slate Las Tablas de Daimiel and Los Humedales de La Mancha

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Several environmental groups (Ecologistas en Acción, WWF/Adena, Greenpeace and SEO/BirdLife) have called removal of protection of Las Tablas de Daimiel and Los Humedales de La Mancha faced with the utter failure of protection measures to save this once great Spanish wetland. They note that 60% of the wetlands of the Alto Guadiana have dried out and that the Tablas de Daimiel themselves, once covered 2,000 ha in summer and now down to 26. At clear fault is the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha which with EU money, and to the benefit of a few rich farmers, continues to permit over-use of the area’s aquifers, making it impossible for the wetlands to recover. (El Mundo – but why is this paper always silent, have you noticed, about criticisms of PP-led regions?)

Monte Perdido glacier

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

What remains of the glacier of Monte Perdido, the second largest in the Pyrenees and covering in 2001, 44 ha down from 556 in 1894, has just been declared a National Monument by the Aragonese government. This will presumably save it from climate change. (El Mundo)

monte perdido glacier

Henri Cartier-Bresson in Barcelona

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Henri Cartier-Bresson in Barcelona. Barrio Chino. 1933. He wrote “The narrow street of Barcelona’s roughest quarter is the home of prostitutes, petty thieves and dope peddlers. But I saw a fruit vendor sleeping against a wall and was struck by the surprisingly gentle and articulate drawing scrawled there”

The tale of the bear’s paw

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

This video poetically tells the story of a bear’s claw nailed to a church in the village of Navacepeda de Tormes in the Sierra de Gredos. The old people say a man had been attacked by a bear and had defended himself with scythe. Bears became extinct in Gredos at some point in the 16th century. Kindly sent to me by Claire of Gredosvivo, bird watching tours in central-western Spain. The video was researched and made by Enrique Sacristán. Also available in Spanish.

Madrid in September

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Another video from Forestman from TV Madrid. 30 minutes on the natural history of the Madrid region in September, but while we marvel at the wild corners just a few kilometres from the Spanish capital, the same authorities which run this TV channel are responsible for the gross urban sprawl into the Sierra de Madrid, and most recently banning their own forest agents from inspecting private land in the region.


Natural history of Madrid here on Iberianature

Organic farming figures for Spain

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Eurostat, the EU statistics body, states that 3.2% of farming area in Spain in 2007 is devoted to organic farming, representing just over 807,569 ha in total. Less than 1% of food bought in Spain is organic and much of this produce is air-freighted to Northern Europe. This figure includes 40% which is under conversion. More here from the Spanish government figures.