The shape of the whelk's shell bears the genetic stamp of the ocean and is a small work of art in nature, like a small jewel tasked with enchanting us and carrying us back to our childhoods.
What child has never tried listening to the noise of the ocean by putting a shell to his or her ear? They would say that the muffled, distant noise resembles the waves of the sea. Making an effort, but never arguing, we would agree that it was so. And it was magical. We carried the sea home in whelks' shells, and we'd go back to them again and again, eager to confirm the noise of the waves and the good memories of the holidays and the beach, which lasted long beyond the summer.
With its spiralling labyrinth interior, the whelk's shell actually functions as a sound box, concentrating and amplifying the surrounding sound but producing an effect that can be easily mistaken for the sea. And that is the mysticism that enchants us and that we insist on believing. So be it.
Found in large numbers on Portugal's rocky coast, whelks really are that delicacy that beckons you to open the can and snack there and then. And for a truly perfect combination, add scenery and memories. Enlarging the view to look at the endless sea at the end of the afternoon, while we remember the days when we picked up little shells in the sand and raved when we found small whelks as if they were a trophy, there we stayed while time stood still to purify the soul and exult the senses with the mythical sound of the sea and the unique taste of this delicacy.
Served plain, as prepared by Comur with only with a touch of salt and chilli to enhance its authentic taste – or, if you prefer, in salad, bean stew, sautéed or on the griddle, with rice or in pasta, because preserves are brilliantly versatile – whelks deliver the promise of the unique taste of the sea. They are audacity, elegance, satisfaction, and pure pleasure.