Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Sunday, February 11, 2018

El Almuerzo! Lunch on the Camino Santiago 2018

For me, el almuerzo (lunch) on the Camino
is almost always a picnic.
Simple and very inexpensive.
It's nice to know you'll have lunch
even if you can't find a bar on the road.
The following items will keep for days,
and are easy to carry in your backpack.
Pick and choose what suits your taste.

The first stop in any village for me is the Panaderia or Bakery.
The above sign is clear,
but remember, the panaderia is not always labeled.
Don't worry, though.
You´ll know it right away.
Follow your nose and eyes.
The wares are almost always displayed in the window.
Remember, they aren't always open all day.
When the bread is sold out,
the doors close to begin tomorrow's baking.

The bread in Spain is OOBER-delicious!
If you don't finish a loaf at lunch,
it makes a wonderful snack mid-meal.
You don't need a knife, just tear it off and dig in!
Because without preservatives it will harden quickly
once you break the crust,
you might keep it in that noisy plastic grocery sack you brought from home!
I love Spanish bread!
I cannot eat bread in the USA .
The wheat is sprayed with bromine
and the loaves are full of preservatives.

In Spain, the bread is baked fresh each day
from clean non-GMO wheat,
and I can eat all I want with no reaction.
You can often find organic bread.
The loaves will be labeled "panes ecológicos."
The label "ecológico" can be found on organic food of all types.

There many regional varieties of bread in Spain.
We'll cover specifics in another post.
But for today, just know you can go into the bakery
and point to whatever looks good.
I generally buy one or two small bollos (small round loafs),
Photo by Mese
 or one long loaf
for under 1 Euro.
A sidenote.
You will often see bags of bread
hanging on gates and doors as you walk through the villages.
More than once, I've watched in horror
as a pilgrim took what was thought of as a gift.
People hang these little cloth bags out
and the baker delivers their daily bread into the bags.
 Buy your own!

Once you have bread,
keep your eyes open for a tienda.
Almost every village has a tiny market,
run out of someone's house.
There is no sign, no marking,
nothing to tell you what is going on in there,
except the occasional customer going in and out.
Look for a door which is open.
There will almost always be a fly curtain hanging in the doorway.
I can usually smell a tienda when passing,
like an old time grocery,
they just have a particular scent.

Once you establish it is a tienda,
and not someone's living room,
walk right in.
Inside, you'll find all sorts of goodies
to fill your mochila and your belly!

Following are some of the best backpacking foods I found along the Way.

We've already talked about eggs.
You can buy them by the each - and they're cheap.
If you're in an albergue with a kitchen,
you can boil them and cool them in the refrigerator,
and carry them with you next day.
Just be sure to label them in the fridge.
There is an unspoken rule that if it's in the fridge and unlabeled,
it's for any pilgrim who is hungry.
Most pilgrims will respect a sign that says,
'Please do not eat," or "Annie's eggs."

Next, I look for olives.
These are called aceitunas in Spain
and they come in cool little plastic bags.
They do not need to be refrigerated.
Some have pits and are labeled "con hueso" which means with pit/seed.
Others are labeled "sin hueso" which means without pit/seed.
Even others are stuffed 
with anything from garlic cloves to pimiento to anchovies.
They add a great deal of flavor, sliced or whole, to a bocadillo!
The next thing I look for is canned tuna.
Called "atun" in Spain, it comes in a nice little package of 3 small cans.
Each can is good for a sandwich large enough to feed 2 pilgrims
or one REALLY hungry pilgrim.
The package below tells me it is "en aceite de oliva" or "in olive oil."
You can also buy it in water,
but consider the olive oil for extra energy
when you're walking such distances.
Don't worry if you don't have a can opener.
They've made things easy for pilgrims along the Camino.
The tuna cans have a nice neat pop-top!
I don't bother mixing the tuna with anything.
I just spread chunks on the bread,
then pour a little of the oil over it and let the bread soak it up.

You can also find these nice cans of filets.
I sometimes add roasted peppers to my sandwich.
These come canned and are VERY RICH so be careful.
But the flavor is amazing!
I've lunched on many bocadillos with nothing but pimientos (peppers),
olives, and cheese.
A can of these will last me a couple of days.
I just keep them in a ziplock bag or in the olive bag.
These are a great option for vegetarian sandwiches too!
If I feel like having meat on my sandwich,
there are many options in the tienda or mercado.
You will always see savory hams and chorizos hanging.
This is generally sold by weight,
so if you aren't sure how much to ask for,
just show the shopkeeper with your fingers.
I'll talk about meat in a future post.
The cheese in Spain is fantastic!
The milk is clean and non-GMO.
I suggest you try all the local varieties and I'll post on them another day.
But for now, grab some Manchego, one of my favorites,
which you'll find all along the Camino.
This savory sheep-milk cheese is always a treat!
If you don't have a knife to slice your cheese and tomatoes,
pick one up in the ferreteria (hardware store) down the road
or borrow one from a fellow pilgrim.
Try some of the tomates!
They´re farm fresh,
have not been gassed
and will blow your mind and tastbuds!
Lettuce is difficult to carry,
so unless I´m making dinner at the albergue,
I tend to pass it by.
But it is good for making your own ensalada in the albergue!
Just be sure to wash it good.
This is farming country.

Crackers and Cheese
or Crackers and Fish
always make a good picnic lunch.
There are many varieties of canned seafoods available along the Way.

The canned anchovies are especially good on saltines.
These mejillones (mussels) are in a really nice pickled sauce
and are very good on crackers or bread!
Other great picnic foods you might find in the tienda include frutas of all types.
Vegetarians will do well in the picnic area.
You might see something exotic that you haven't seen before.
Why not give it a try?
Sometimes I've found my favorite imported fruits in Spain at a much better price.
For instance, I might pay over $6 for one cherimoya in the USA -
so it is a rare treat!
But on the Camino, I often found them for under 1 Euro!
If you've never eaten a cherimoya,
please try one.
Just cut it open, and eat the fruit off the skin.
To me they taste like a mild combination of banana and pineapple.
You'll also find a large assortment of dried fruits and nuts.
Of course, you'll find a better variety in the larger city markets,
but even the small tiendas will carry an assortment.
There will be raisins, dates, figs, apricots, almonds,
sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and many others.
Buy them by the inexpensive bag and make up your own trail mix!
Just remember to drink the water your body needs to rehydrate the fruit.

Speaking of markets, if you come across a street market, take a look!
There are all sorts of goodies to be found there!
If your Spanish isn't good, just point to what you want.
You can bet it will be affordable.

Top off your picnic lunch with a VERY inexpensive bottle of local wine.
When I say inexpensive, I mean anywhere from 1 Euro to 3 Euros.
These are not always labeled; sometimes they're locally bottled.
But one thing is certain, they're always delicious!
Half a bottle before bedtime will help you sleep
through the roncadores (snorers) in the albergue!
If you don't want to carry glass, you can purchase wine and juice in little boxes.
These do not need refrigeration until they've been opened.
I've often carried both around for days, even opened, with no problems.
But I'm adventurous!
This boxed wine sells for 0,71 Euro which is just over $1.
It is delicious!

If you'd rather have juice, you'll find it for under 1 Euro for a box.
It also comes in bottles in the cold section.
.Well, that's about it.
These have been some of my favorite lunch options.
On thing is certain,
you will not go hungry on the Camino.
Shopping can be a real adventure!
If you are willing to shop for yourself
and to try new things,
I promise you'll leave the Camino an expert
in the fine art of "the picnic!"



Note:  If you would love to walk the Camino Santiago, 
but are not quite ready to go it alone, 
consider joining Annie
on one of our small, affordable Camino walks. 
For more information see our website 
at this link: AnnieWalkers Camino

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