"Don't suck heads for Christmas" - Spain issues health warning over 'consuming Prawn heads'
Updated: Jan 4
The Spanish Christmas dinner traditions include seafood. To anyone who lives in Spain or has spent time with Spanish people this comes as no surprise. One of the most widely observed Christmas food traditions is a platter of prawns. Whether they be flambéed in brandy, grilled or not, the Spanish love sucking the brains out of the freshly removed prawn heads. It is considered a delicacy by many.
So it has come as a shock to the Spanish that the Spanish food and Safety Agency (AESAN) have warned against the practice because of the health risks associated with cadmium.
Cadmium, a heavy metal associated with zinc, copper and lead can be found in concentrated levels in the dark meat of shellfish and seafood such as prawns, crab and lobster. These heavy metals cannot be processed by the human body and can be a cause of serious health problems in liver and kidneys.
This can accumulate in the body over long periods of time and is considered a category 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It can cause problems with the liver or renal complications, demineralization of bones or at worst, cancer.
The announcement has been greeted with customary indignation by the Spaniards. Most do not feel the need to change a habit, a custom of a lifetime, especially if the accumulation of such heavy metals has already been occurring. Many people have changed their eating habits regarding Tuna and levels of Mercury, another heavy metal which is bio-accumulative, but there seems to be greater resistance to this attempt to cancel Christmas.
Juan, a beach side trader from Valencia reacted in disgust. "Why would they decide to tell us now? We have been sucking heads for decades" he fumed. Immaculada, a granny from Calatayud insisted she would "continue eating them anyway. I have probably done the damage long before now". Maria, a Shopping Centre manager in Zaragoza was adamant. "I will still suck them of course! Maybe a less than normal, but it is the best bit!" Forlorn Cesar, a musician from Zaragoza was crestfallen, stating "I don't like Christmas anymore" before using sad face and prawn emojis.
Brits have not reacted with any surprise. Larry, a functioning alcoholic in Benidorm garbled "Sbloody wierd innit? Sucking the brains of a bottom feeder". Geoff an English teacher and Moustache model was unsympathetic "My wife's family all sit around the table slurping brain juice out of prawn and crab skulls it always struck me as creepy. Why can't they just ram an onion up inside a dead bird body cavity like normal people?"
We here at Bulldogz can be safe in the knowledge that guiris across Spain will no longer watch on in abject horror as their Spanish friends and acquired family suck and crunch the heads of prawns this Christmas season. Instead they can joyfully wave the Spanish health warning around and hector them all on their impending self inflicted death and how Spanish Christmas food clearly is not as healthy as British Christmas traditions!
Please share your experiences of Spanish Christmas food traditions and if, like us, you have always found the delight in sucking Prawn brains, a little, well, wierd....