In Spain it’s a privilege to end up in a can. Its denizens have a penchant for burying their most exalted ingredients—from fire-roasted piquillo peppers to sweet, fat white asparagus—in tombs of tin. There, the belief goes, they live a second life, where flavors become pure and concentrated and can linger on indefinitely. No class of ingredient better embodies Spanish conservas culture than the seafood brought in from the cold waters of the northern coast.
Los Peperetes is a small family-run cannery producing some of Spain’s most prized conservas. Everything from sea urchins to razor clams to gooseneck barnacles comes from across the street, delivered still dripping from the Atlantic to their door each morning, where it begins its slow transformation. Lightly boiled in seafood stock, trimmed of any imperfection by women with tiny scissors and extraordinary patience, each piece is then arranged by hand in its final resting place. Collectively, the seafood forms the heart of a sacred Spanish tradition: the aperitivo, where salty, briny snacks and wine or vermouth serve as an extended warmup for a larger meal to come. You can make like a Spaniard and pop a can and a bottle of sherry before dinner, but really, a product this good is deserving of its own feast.