The oldest artisan conservas company in Galicia.
Real Conservas, or the Royal Spanish Canning Company, was founded by the current owner’s great-grandfather José Peña, who first started canning fresh seafood on the edge of the docks at Cambados in 1920. The original factory is now a museum celebrating the local fishing fleet.
Real Conservas aims for nothing short of perfection. Peña’s great-grandson still visits the wharfs several times a week – usually at three or four in the morning when the boats start coming in – to purchase the best raw produce on offer. He’s been doing this so long that he claims to be able to taste the difference between cockles from each beach in the area: salty ones from here, meatier ones from there…
Once the seafood returns to the Real Conservas factory, it’s cleaned and packed by hand, then cooked in the tin with the simplest local ingredients: olive oil, salt, lemon, bay. The whole process never takes longer than a few hours.
Galicia is the north-west corner of Spain, jutting out just above Portugal. On its eastern edge, a series of mountain ranges separate Galicia from Castille and León, forming enough of a barrier from the rest of the country to isolate Galicia and allow it to develop a unique culture, language and cuisine.
Paradoxically, as the land falls away from the mountains in the east towards the Atlantic in the south, the temperatures gradually decrease until we reach the cool, wet Rias, or deltas, just north of the Portuguese border.
The Rias provide the vast majority of Spain’s seafood and fish: mussels, clams, mackerel and sardines all thrive here, which in turn sustain larger predatory animals like tuna and octopus.
On land, the long tradition of small scale farming can still be seen, although the increasing popularity of the local Albariño grape variety has heralded the arrival of large wineries and a consequent move towards monoculture.