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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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.