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The writer Álvaro Cunqueiro, from the Galician town of Mondoñedo, who was an expert on Galician gastronomy, offered in his work Viajes y yantares por Galicia (Travels and repasts around Galicia) a treatise on lamprey, including all possible ways to prepare it. This intellectual claimed that one of the images on the Portico of Glory, at one of the entrances of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, is tasting an empanada filled with this delicious fish.
Of all the most important popular gastronomic events in Galicia, only the Albariño Festival in Cambados (1953) and the Festival of O Condado Wine in Salvaterra de Miño are older than the Lamprey Festival of Arbo. Alfonso Vázquez Martínez, former headmaster of Ourense secondary school, played a major role in getting this tradition started: it was his initiative to promote the first Lamprey Day, in April 1961, which was celebrated along with a literary competition. At the beginning, the festival consisted of an official luncheon organised by the Town Council in a local restaurant, and lamprey was served with allis shad and baby goat "San Fins-style". This delicious meal was washed down with wines from of O Condado, and a dance called danza do libramento was performed at the end.
The lamprey is almost amphibian, and it was highly appreciated in the past because it could survive a whole week out of the water. This prehistoric fish was already consumed in a vast territory at the dawn of Christianity. During Lent, monks would abstain from it because it was cartilaginous and it was therefore considered tantamount to eating meat.
Arbo has earned the title that distinguishes it as a historic capital for this delicacy. In this town, preparation of lamprey gradually gained popularity because, after swimming up the River Miño, the animal arrives in perfect condition for tasting after it has been cleansed and its flesh has hardened.
In the 1990s, the wine culture exhibit Arbomostra was added to the festival, and, in 1996, the Dry Lamprey Festival kicked off on the first weekend of July, organised by the local restaurants and rounded out by an interesting cultural programming and attractive activities. The main course can be tasted in various ways, paired with regional wines, belonging to As Rías Baixas Designation of Origin." data-marker-category="" data-marker-icon="" data-marker-img="">