Camino de Santiago 28Jul 29th, 2012 | By Admin | Category: Travel
Now you all know I couldn’t go on a trip like this without devoting one entire day to food. Everyone knows I love food. Most of my Facebook posts are of pictures of my food. I workout simply so can eat, anything, and still look good. Which gets more challenging with age. So I want to talk to you about food on the Camino.
This post will be broken into categories such as breakfast, lunch, etc. and, of course I include alcohol as its on category. The first category I will cover is breakfast.
Now, I have never considered myself a breakfast person. I know they say it is the most important meal of the day but my body just doesn’t like it when I eat first thing in the morning. Luckily for me, pictured above is the standard breakfast of Spain. Toast with butter and jam, along with coffee/tea and orange juice. I’m sorry but this ain’t worth getting out of bed for.
If you are lucky they might give you a piece of meat with your croissant but you’ll pay extra for it. This standard breakfast of bread and jam is about 3€ and sometimes I had to ask for butter and jam to go with my bread.
Now I don’t want you think I’m going to trash my Spanish food experience because that’s definitely not my intention. What I realized is that what you eat depends a lot on what you experienced growing up.
It wasn’t long into my journey when I discovered a bit of breakfast heaven and that is coffee con leche and tortilla. A Spanish tortilla is simple an egg and potato quiche like pie. Totally delicious… most of the time. Posted above was one of my favorite tortillas because it came with a ham in the middle. I only experienced this once but I really enjoyed eating tortillas.
A typical food day for me started with walking before eating. I would usually walk about 7-12km before sitting down to my coffee and tortilla. The keep me going I had granola bars. They were great especially on the long hall mornings when I had 2 hours before the first bar. I also carried nuts, usually cashews with me. That have this really interesting but mix with corn seeds.
Toward the end of the Camino I started staying in hotels and eating a more traditional eggs over easy with bacon. This is about as sophisticated breakfast you can order in Spain. A typical cafe or bar breakfast menu only consists of 5 things. It’s literally written in a small piece of single sided paper.
It makes me wonder what a spaniard visiting the states thinks when they eat at a cafe and the breakfast menu is 5+ pages. What would they order??
Lunch: the pilgrim’s meal
One of the coolest things about walking the Camino is pilgrim’s meal or meal of the day. Spaniards prefer to eat their big big meal at lunch and have a lighter meal in the evening.
The pilgrim’s meal is the best deal in the house. For 8€-10€ you get a three course meal (1st serving, 2nd serving, and dessert). It also comes with a bottle, yes, you read correctly, a bottle of either red or white wine or water if you don’t feel like drinking. So let’s start with the 1st course.
My favorite thing to get was called the salad mixta or mixed salad.
You can see from the pictures that the mixed salad typically comes with lettuce, tomato, red beats, carrots, corn, olives, egg, and almost always tuna. Tuna is considered a veggie in Spain.
But no two mixed salads are the same. You never know exactly what you are going to get or how it will be presented. All you know is it will be delicious.
The mixed salad is always served with olive oil and vinegar, usually white vinegar but I’ve had a few occasions in which balsamic was given, and salt/pepper.
If you love dressings then I suggest you carry a bottle with you because, in Spain, condiments and variety don’t really exist. You either like olive oil and vinegar on your salad or you like it plain.
I quickly overcame my ranch dressing addiction for the only choice available and, in the end, wonder if I’ll go back. Maybe the spaniards just know the way it should be served and anything else just isn’t acceptable. All I know is that when I get home and eat out for the first time, I wonder which dressing I will choose. Will I stay Spanish with oil and vinegar or will I always be American where variety and options rule.
Another option I had for my first course, but only on a few occasions, was soup. I LOVE soup and was excited to try the different varieties.
I had two cream of vegetable soups and they were okay. Nothing overly special about them. Then I was in this little town and was walking past a small alburgue and, for some reason I just had to stop in. It was run by a foreigner, British I think, and she made me a delicious homemade tomato soup with fresh bread. I’ve never been a huge fan of just plain tomato soup but this was really good. Having the bread, or a nice grilled cheese sandwich always helps.
But by far the best soup I had on the Camino was the garlic soup. It was so good I ate it three days in a row. Look at how slightly different each serving is.
The next two versions had bread and egg mixed in with the garlic soup.
Garlic soup is something I really want to try making. It’s one of the best soups I’ve ever had. As I moved into Galicia, the soup changed to greens and potato mix. I love greens. I grew up eating collard and mustard greens. In the Colony, I made a lot of soup with a green called dock. This soup was really good. What I liked most is that they would bring you a whole cauldron of soup. You could eat as much as you wanted. Which in a way was bad because this was the 1st course. Every single time I had this soup I over ate.
The Main Course
The main dish is always meat and usually potatoes. No veggies and the potato was french fries 90% of the time. My first dish on the camino was actually at a buffet with some exotic meats. I had a choice of chicken, rabbit, or fish. I decided to try the rabbit.
It was delicious. It was so good. I went back for seconds. Below is a variety of main dishes. You can see that it was a ton of food between the starter and the main dish.
Yes, this is pizza and it has tuna on it. I ordered the vegetarian pizza. Well in Spain, tuna is a vegetable!
The trout above was one of the best meals I had in Spain. It was so juicy and stuffed with ham. It also came with a bowl of garlic soup as a started. I had this in the one place I stayed an extra night and had my rest day. It was so good, I went back the second night and ordered the same thing.
Above is jelly fish. Yes, that’s correct. Jelly fish! I didn’t order it but my friend Javier, who took me to dinner, did order it and I tried a little piece. It wasn’t too bad. A little chewy but not as bad as other sea animals. The fact that it was swimming in garlic and butter helped. That was the most exotic thing I had on the Camino. A lot of people had the octopus but I just wasn’t going to go that far but I heard it was delicious.
This was the best pizza I had in Spain. I ate it with my South African friend Francois. We were in Finisterre together at the end of the Camino. We were right on the coast so seafood was a must.
The third course was dessert. You usually had your choice of some kind of cake, ice cream, or flan. Flan was really big in Spain. I don’t like it so you won’t see it here. Every once in a while I got cheesecake or some kind of cool cake.
Overall it was fun choosing, in Spanish, my meals. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. But the bottom line is food in Spain is cheap. The meal of the day, or pilgrims meal is such a bargain. Remember, it comes with a bottle of wine or water. I really looked forward to eating everyday because I didn’t know what my options were going to be. Just one more fun daily surprise on the Camino.