A Taste of the Camino

27 05 2011

One of the fun parts of travelling to different parts of the world is tasting the local food.  I have to say, in this trip, results have been mixed.

When I get home, I’m going to look for a recipe for “Tarte de Santiago”.  It’s a dense almond cake, perhaps even flourless, made with almond meal or ground almonds.  It’s something that turns up frequently on the dessert menu here and I quite like it.  Traditionally, it comes sprinkled with icing sugar, with a design of a sword of the Templar Knights.  The templar knights were charged with protecting the pilgrims from harm during the middle ages.

Tasty as this cake is, I’m thinking I might even be able to do a better job than what we’ve had here.  After the first couple of servings, I realised every cafe purchases the cake ready-made, quite possibly all from the same company.

A typical restaurant breakfast here is coffee and toast with butter and jam.  A more expensive meal would include a glass of orange juice.  We’ve begun to search out the local grocery stores to find  something for breakfast, perhaps granola bars or croissants, a piece of fruit and some fruit juice.  This way we can walk for a while when we’re packed and ready to go and later stop on a bench for a peaceful bite.  We do try to stop at a cafe sometime in the morning for a “cola-cao” or hot chocolate made with steamed milk and powdered chocolate.

Lunch is sometimes a bit difficult.  We’re finding we’re getting tired of prepared food and are happy to find something in a grocery store.  But…we’re ready for lunch after the day’s walk, we’ve had a shower and our clothes are drying, usually about 2 pm.  All the grocery stores close from 2-4.  In fact, most of the stores close in the afternoon and reopen in the early evening.  Sometimes, our choice is to wait until 4 pm to eat lunch or try a sandwich in a cafe.  I’m rather sick of Spanish sandwiches–eggs, stringy ham, bread so tough it’s hard to chew, no mayo, no veggies or lettuce.

A late lunch is not so bad, supper doesn’t happen until later in the evening.  Most kitchens don’t open until 7 at the earliest, sometimes as late as 8:30 pm.  Kind of tough on us poor pilgrims who are ready for bed by 9 (or earlier).

Pilgrim menus are very popular.  A starter, a main course and dessert, including bread and wine (water is extra).  They are reasonably priced at 9-10 €, but the menu tends to be the same no matter where you go.  A few meals stick out as being exceptionally tasty, but none of them were actually part of a pilgrim menu.  I was even so brave as to try “pulpo” or octopus.  It was surprisingly good, but I won’t go out of my way to look for it at home.  Much of the food seems to be somewhat plain, the Spanish are not big on condiments and even asking for ketchup for french fries is a big deal.  By the way, the favourite side dish here is french fries, I’ve eaten more of them in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years.

Surprisingly, fruits and vegetables are not big on the menu.  The theory is that the Spanish eat their veggies at home, not in restaurants.  Sounds good, but there is more room dedicated to chocolate in the grocery stores than there is to produce.  Go figure!

Alcohol is very inexpensive here.  I’m rather sad we’re limited to four bottles of wine to take home with us.  I’ve discovered Spanish “sidra” or cider, a nice alternative to wine and at 4% alcohol not too intoxicating.

We spent last night in a municipal albergue, the worst kind, with over 50 in the room.  It was clean, the mattresses were comfy, but sleep was minimal.  Tonight might not be much better, 50 in this room.  Oh well, this is our second last night in an albergue, Santiago we get a hotel room.

Two more days of walking.




3 responses

27 05 2011

Did you say WATER is extra??

29 05 2011

Yes, in lots of cases wine is included, but you pay for water! We’ve seen wine in the grocery store for as little as .50€. It was on sale, regularly about .75€. We’re very sad we’re limited to two bottles each, duty free.

29 05 2011

I have a recipe for gateaux Santiago. I made it for our Spanish dinner with the other three and our spouses.

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