Galicia Takes over NYC!!

The Galician Cinema & Food Festival puts the creative talent of Spain's northern Celtic region on display to the delight of New Yorkers from all over the globe.

 TVG's Jaime Arias, one of the festival's top organizers, introduces the film portion of the event.

TVG's Jaime Arias, one of the festival's top organizers, introduces the film portion of the event.

For the third year In a row, the GC&FF, a four day extravaganza, was home to Galicia's largest official celebration in the United States. I had the privilege of attending and photographing this wonderful event held in Instituto Cervantes (located in Manhattan's midtown east on 49th street between 2nd & 3rd avenue) where the energy was electric with the scent of Galician food and wine, and the sounds of laughter and discussion in numerous languages.  There to celebrate the richness of one of Spain's most culturally dynamic regions was a cornucopia of cultures both familiar with Galicia's splendor, as well as those experiencing it for the first time.  This is the type of ethnic affluence that only New York City can supply; a stage that Galicia more than deserves to be present in and enjoyed, and where, by the looks on the faces of the attendees, it certainly was.

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Pulpo! 

Michelin Star Chef Iván Dominguez teaches how to cook Galicia's famous octopus.

Not holding back in the least, the festival brought in an elite superstar in the international cooking scene in the form of Galicia's very own Michelin Star chef Iván Dominguez (from A Coruña), head chef of the Alborada Restaurant Group.  His expertise and charisma shone brightly as his obvious love for the products and natural resources of his northwestern Spanish heritage dripped from his every word.  So too did mouths water, as samples of his meticulous culinary talents were distributed for all those who attended to savor.  

The Documentary ¨Adén Do Cosmos¨ introduces the world to Santiago Formoso of the legendary Cosmos, the first Spaniard to win a championship ring outside of Spain.

In the center, Santi Formoso stands with a modern Cosmos jersey with his number on it and signed by the entire NY Cosmos team to his left. To his right he holds an honorary jersey from the Galician National Team. With him is Antonio Rodríguez Miranda (Secretary General of Emigration for the Galician Government), David Kiltpatrick (Official Historian for the NY Cosmos), and the film´s director Pedro Pablo Alonso, and cinematographer Cuco Pino.

Long before Pau Gasol came to the Los Angeles Lakers to win two NBA Championships, there was Galician born Santiago Formoso.  Immigrating from the port city of Vigo at the age of 16, Santi would go on to share a locker room with the likes of Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, and of course, Pelé.  Using original footage from the 1970's, wonderfully humorous anecdotes from Santiago, and a warm, charming sense of nostalgia, Alén do Cosmos (Beyond the Cosmos) details the full circle journey of a young Galician immigrant from bewildered youth, to superstar athlete, and back to retired everyman.

Directed by Pedro Pablo Alonso, the film brings to light the matter that Formoso was, in fact, the first Spaniard to ever win a championship ring outside of Spain.  The audience laughed and basked at the tone of the film, which like Formoso, told the tale in fond reverence of that once upon a time glory without apologizing for its simplicity and with zero regrets.

The Festivities Revel the Final Night Away with Interviews, Live Music, Food, & Gratitude!

No great Galician event can go finished without a proper night of revelry.  Closing the festival in the beautiful gardens of the Cervantes Institute was a celebration of all the wonderful works presented throughout the week.  Hundreds of people danced and clapped along to the Celtic sounds of Slum Suit, drank wines and beers from Galicia, and once again delighted on the culinary wonders of Chef Dominguez and his straight from Galicia cuisine.

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Queimada Galega!

 

A 2000 yr old Celtic tradition from Galicia, said to imbue the drinker with magical health and prosperity.

 

The press attended in droves, interviewing Mr. Arias, Santi Formoso, the film's producers, and event coordinators.  Representatives of the Spanish government graced the floor to glean on how their hometown products fair across the pond, as Galician vendors poured Albariño and Estrella de Galicia.  Rounds of tapas like, octopus, mussels, and other delectable goodies circulated across the expanse, right before the grand finale.  This wonder came in the form of a Galician tradition called Queimada, pictured above.

The entire festival transmitted Galicia in all it's splendor, making this lesser known region stand out as the epicenter of creativity that it is for all the world to see.  This is a land of bagpipes and jigs, witches and mysticism, good wine, and even better food. The more people that are introduced to the wonder that is this gorgeous part of Spain, once known as the home of Finisterre (in Roman times thought to be the end of the known world), the richer we'll all be for it.

Photographer and blogger Fito Perez is of Galician decent.