Yes, what about food? A question that had not occurred to me before going to Spain and France to start my first Camino. I have had the pleasure of traveling in Spain and France on numerous occasions before and I love their food. Compared to the usual British cuisine I find it tastier.
All that said, the food along the Camino is was not what I had become used to or expected in Paris or Madrid.
The Pilgrims Menu
During the first two weeks, I ate out every night. In every town and village along the way, you will see the option of the pilgrim’s menu. It is stated as three courses normally. However, the three are not like you would expect in your local restaurant. The starter is normally a small bowl pasta or if you are lucky a salad. I hope you like chicken. The main course of the menu was nearly always chicken – I did get a bit tired of it. The third course is normally fruit or yogurt. When I say fruit I mean an apple or an orange put down in front of you.
The Pilgrims menu will normally include wine or water. I found the menu fine, it was enough to fill me and I am a big guy. I was never left hungry.
My Eating Along the Camino
In the morning I just wanted coffee to start with. Most of the time I had a snack bar that I had bought the day before. Then I would walk to the first bar. It would normally be full of pilgrims getting breakfast and like me their first coffee of the day.
The walk to breakfast could be 5km but normally much less. If the albergue I had stayed in was in a large enough town there would be a bar open about 6.30 or 7.00am so breakfast would be had there.
More and more of the hostels now serve some sort of breakfast. Normally it is continental – cold except for the toast.
Lunch had a little more variety, I got used to a Spanish dish which is made of egg and potatoes – Tortilla de Patatas – and I would often have this in a baguette. Sometimes I bought tuna, or cold meats, fruit, and some bread; then I would stop along the way during the hottest part of the day and rest and eat. However, many pilgrims push their walking quite fast so that they are finished walking for the day by this time. See What is a usual day like?
There are small shops in villages, so buying your own food to cook in the evenings in Albergue’s is also possible. I did this mostly during the last ten days or so. Pilgrim’s menus become very boring night after night – very much the same from village to village.
Once I had met and traveled with others it was easy at night to all get-together and pay together to cook food between us. Cheaper – but more importantly more convivial. Most Albergue’s had cooking facilities, see the Albergue list for kitchens.
Some of the hostels serve an evening meal. The ones that I enjoyed the most like Granon were communal affairs. For me there was something very special about these meals eating together.
I love my food. During the Camino was a time that I could eat anything and not have to be concerned with putting on weight. I had no idea at the time but I lost a lot of weight while walking.
There are two areas that stand out to me as great places to eat. Pamplona had the best tapas that I have ever had in my life. I could sit and eat them all night if I could. So if you stay over there it is worthwhile splashing out.
Towards the end of the Camino as you near the sea, seafood is available everywhere. We treated ourselves to a slap-up meal in Santiago and again in Finisterre. But even the smallest of bars have great squid.
Being a Vegan or Vegetarian
I am neither I love my meat too much. However it is possible to be both or either along the Camino, it does take a bit of work and some planning. See this post for more information on being vegan on the Camino.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.