In America we know it as the imitation crab stick of the California roll. In Japan it commonly appears as kamaboko (fish cake), and in China as fish balls. I'm talking about surimi, a resourceful product that makes use of fish protein that would otherwise go to waste. It came as a surprise, though, to find surimi being hawked in Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel.
There, I came across a food cart run by Ale Vin Cocina Creativa, selling surimi in the form of gulas, short for angulas. These are the tiny, two-inch-long elver eels that they resemble, which are much loved by Basques but in dwindling supply. It all made more sense after reading this 1994 New York Times article by Mark Kurlansky. Back then, Basques looked upon these imitation gulas with suspicion, checking to see if the worm-like creatures had faces on them before partaking. Funny, since many Americans would have the opposite problem, finding it hard to each something that small with a face.
|Gulas are traditionally served with olive oil, garlic and peppers;|
these are garlic flavored.