Thousands of people walk the famous Camino de Santiago or the Way of St James. The Way is actually a network of routes, all leading to the Santiago de Compostela cathedral in northwestern Spain.
Whether you’re taking the most popular Camino Frances (the French Way) or another route, you’ll have many opportunities to try incredibly tasty dishes from the local cuisine. Depending on where you hail from, they might not be what you’re used to, but walking the Way is all about opening up to new experiences, even gastronomical ones.
Here’s some food you should try on your pilgrimage.
If you’re used to cooked breakfast, eggs and sausages and the like, you might be slightly disappointed to hear that all along the Camino, they mostly serve continental breakfast. This means they usually offer light pastries, jam and toast with tea or coffee, and similar. However, albergues, aka hostels for pilgrims, often provide breakfast free of charge.
What’s more, lighter food in the morning might be better for starting an active day since you won’t feel heavy or bloated and will generally be lighter on your feet.
If you’re used to some other type of food in the morning, it’s best to bring it yourself or buy it in the supermarket.
An important thing to note is that breakfast is usually not served too early in Spain. It typically starts about 7:30, so if you want to start walking early, you might want to get some food ready in the evening. An alternative is to start walking and stop for a meal somewhere along the way later.
Typical Lunch Along the Camino
Your lunch options along the route are much more diverse and include some staple Spanish dishes. The portions are also large enough to fill you up and fuel your walking adventure.
One of the favorites among the pilgrims is the octopus. It’s considered traditional Galician seafood, and it tastes incredible. You can try it anywhere in Melide, and you won’t be disappointed.
Another Spanish classic is Tortilla de Patatas, aka Spanish omelet, which is made of eggs and potatoes, with various additions, such as onions. You’ll grow to love this hearty dish served everywhere along the Way, and it will remind you of the Camino for years to come.
You’ll also enjoy the practical bocadillo. It’s an iconic Camino food for a reason. Bocadillo is a type of sandwich that involves a crispy baguette filled with delicious cheeses and meats. It’s great for grabbing a quick bite before you resume your walk.
Those taking the North Way and passing through the Basque Country need to stop for a portion of Pil Pil Cod. The star of this dish is a spicy sauce that will make your taste buds explode with joy.
If you’re passing through Sevilla, you have to try Eggs a la Flamenca. Restaurants serve it in clay pots, and the dish includes tomatoes, ham, chorizo, green beans, garlic, and more. The exact ingredients vary from place to place.
When you get to Santiago, seafood will abound, and the first thing you need to taste there are scallops. This iconic dish will be the perfect crown for your Camino adventure.
Dinner: the Pilgrim’s Menu
You can’t say you’ve truly walked the Camino de Santiago if you haven’t eaten off the Pilgrim’s Menu at least once. Menú para Peregrinos is a great option for starving pilgrims who want to finish off their day with a three-course meal. You usually get an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert along with some wine for around ten euros.
An appetizer is usually a hearty vegetable broth, pasta, or salad. Next, you get some meat — chicken, octopus, fish, pork, etc. — with potatoes and bread. For dessert, you can get anything from an apple to cheesecake.
What you’ll find on the Pilgrim’s Menu depends largely on where you are. For example, you’re much more likely to be served fish if you’re somewhere along the coast.
What to Drink
As you can see, if you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll probably get plenty of opportunities to taste the local wines. If you’re more of a beer person, we encourage you to also try the local options. You can find internationally renowned brands, but why not try Estrella Galicia while you’re in Spain or Super Bock on the Portuguese Way?
If you’re vegetarian, you should come prepared because not all albergues and restaurants serve vegetarian dishes. However, you’ll usually have to be creative and resourceful. In some places, you can substitute the main dish on the Pilgrim’s Menu with another starter, for example.
When it comes to vegan dishes, though, options are scarce, so it’s best to make your own food along the way.