Spanish Food - A Tantalising Journey Along the Camino
Spanish food history is amongst the most varied and interesting in the world. It’s also arguably the world leader when it comes to choice. For those who walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, each day is sure to be an exciting foodie experience!
The must eats are tortilla, paella, Iberian Jamon (the tastiest ham you will ever eat – there is even a museum in Monasterio - Museo del Jamon - explaining the history of where the best ham comes from, and why!), churros with chocolate sauce, croquettes, bulls tail (not on the menu for vegetarians) and gambas pil pil (prawns cooked in chilli and garlic oil) to name just a few.
Tapas has evolved into an entire sophisticated cuisine, and the choices range from olives and Manchego cheese, to fried baby squid, to potato bravos (spicy roasted potatoes), and a selection of toppings on small cuts of fresh bread.
On the Camino, although Tapas is popular in Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos and Santiago in particular, the most common food is the pilgrim menu, known as the ‘Pilgrims’ Staple’. This is a simple, but hearty three-course meal, served with a complementary bottle of wine (which is just perfect at the end of a big walking day on the Camino!)
In the morning the big temptation at the coffee stops are the Tortillas – which are delicious Spanish style omelettes - displayed tantalisingly at the end of the bar just waiting to be sliced!
There are also dishes and snacks specific to villages and regions. O Cebreiro has its own type of cheese made from cows milk. It has a unique shape, which is similar to a mushroom, or chefs hat. It tastes creamy and slightly acidic, and the locals prefer to eat it with honey straight from the bee. It was one of the best tasting deserts I had on the Camino.
Pulpo – another famous O Cebreiro delicacy - is octopus. The aroma wafts for miles in the summer months – but be warned - the smell is not always a reflection of the taste!
Astorga, high on a hill above the Camino de Santiago track (between Leon and Sarria), has a bakery every second shop. Here, the Mantecadas de Astorga was created back in the 1930’s, and is a recipe originated from a nun from the local Holy Spirit Convent in Astorga, who later left the convent and popularised the product. The Mantecada is a type of Spanish sponge pastry, and is a cross between a muffin and a scone.
So – as you can tell - Spain is a culinary delight for all those who wander there, and there’s sure to be something to keep everyone happy! Some things just taste better in Spain…
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