Picororocos goo, silk, timbales and bouillabaisse (caldillo kinda).

Before  knowing Darwins’ behemothian 2 volumes about Cirripedia: “Living Cirripedia: A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia” (600 plus pages), and “id: The Balanidae”,  I was fascinated by “picorocos”: Austromegabalanus psittacus’, the edible giant chilean barnacle whose rate of growth astonished Darwin,  measuring it while staying in Coquimbo, Chile. Charles Darwin (1854): ‘At Coquimbo, in Chile, I procured a specimen of B. psittacus (sic), attached to a chain cable which had been in the water only six months; this specimen measured 1.3 of an inch in basal diameter, and 0.8 in height: this shows a rapid rate of growth.’

 Low low tide in the rocky beaches we went, would expose colonies of picorocos raising questions among us, children,  regarding their nature. More astonishment would ensue after the grown ups would artfully brought the eadible parts  out of their shells (really calcite). Eventhough the fibers looked like full condoms (to which none of us would claim any legitimate expertise) more amazement would follow upon witnessing their transformation to delicate amber frutos inside the boiling caldillo that would confort us late in the summer evening (quite chilly in chile below 32 S). I dont think itis possible to find intertidal colonies of picorocos any longer around the latitudes we used to beachgo.

grow up to 12 inches

Barnacles, for that is what picorocos are, undergo a perfect metamorphosis; perfect because it has seven larval stages , at the seventh stage -cyprid- it secretes goo and becomes attached to a sustrate. MORE TO FOLLOW..going to the gym..the cypris larvae has a cement gland that secretes (ozes) a protein which solididfies upon contact with the sustrate, a strategy used by most sessile frutos do mar.

All this to highlight 2 qualities of these barnacles: 1)  the glue, shared with many sea creatures and 2) the gourmet high quality of their giant muscle fibers that anchor the animal to the calcite. There is a goose neck couple of species in the Atlantic (Galicia!) that is fished artisanally, another in Canada,  a balanus in Azores and an unexploited balanus in the Northwest Pacific: no record of coastal Salish Indian eating Cirripedia. The Economist, Nov 19th, (free online!)  ran a note regarding a paper by Fritz Vollrath  in Naturwissenchaften (which I havent read)  describing a second class of seawater super glue made by Crassicorophium bonellii  a small crustacean, said glue having:  ”  the adhesive characteristics of barnacle glue and the structural properties of spider-silk fibres”. Cool. (except for the preposterous claims for human apps. made of course given the note appeared in the Econ-nomist)

In Chile where picorocos (giant Austro genus) are endemic, (also southern Peru) Luis Burzio did. or is doing great work on bivalves’ cement. I guess Luis is tired of cement glands by now. I tried to find some new work about bioadhesives but I couldnt find anything recent.

coral de picorocos (ya encontrarfe un timbal)

Picorocos are eaten in a) caldillo, (you have to place them already cooked ~20/30′ min in the boiling broth right before serving) or in b) timbal like the ones developed by Jorge Coco Pacheco as seen in the left but this one is called “coral” pero pasa como timbal. Yo haria los cilindros (timbales) de un diametro lo mas cercano al diametro de las valvas.( I remember a timbal winnng an internatiobal contest). The fluid  collected from inside de animals after coction is called “leche de pantera”.

caldillo de picorocos (picos bouillabaisse)

Caldillo is akin to prepare a bouillabaisse I would suggest: you have to have a solid, molar, caldo: the soup, broth. Any white fish, with a sweet aftertaste will do. Use heads and fins ad libitum but monitor the taste. The base is typically onions, garlic, pepper and gentle simmering. The fish pieces you are gonna eat I cooked  separately (use the broth) so I do with the picos.


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