A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” —Omar Khayyam
The sentiment in Khayyam’s words are not lost on me. Particularly as I try to walk my Camino with an open mind for a simple life. Medieval pilgrims certainly would have been grateful for bread alone and may have subsisted solely on it – with a watery soup and wine thrown in from time to time.
But man I want a salad.
As in most European countries bread is life. In Spain the Panaderia on every corner is busy from the break of day. This is true in the cities and in the small villages we walk through. Some small towns we find the “Bread man” (my term) driving through the streets honking his horn. Kinda like the ice cream man when I was a kid.
Along the Camino finding food is a bit of a challenge unless you are in a large city. And finding food that includes nice fresh produce is even harder. And dinner before 8pm? Forget about it.
Likely for convenience and cost, the places that pop up for sustenance on the Camino sell baguette sandwiches called bocadilla, or the national dish of Spain, Tortilla Espinosa (an egg and potato torta/omelette), and coffee. Sometimes apples and bananas. This is what is considered both breakfast and lunch food. It’s cheap and easy to carry.
I’ve learned to pick up fresh fruit when I see it and stash it in our pack. Clearly we are a long way from starving but a girl needs something to help her walk 14 miles each day.
A couple of days ago on a particularly uninhabited stretch of our walk I had ham and cheese on a dry baguette for breakfast, tuna on hard focaccia for lunch and ham and cheese on baguette for dinner.
That was the day I said no more bread. No mas!
And there was the one night we shared a can of tuna and a whole zuchinni while laying in bed.
At the end of each day we can usually find what is
called the Peregrino Dinner. In every town we have found this except for one. This meal is usually $10-12 Euro and includes two or three courses with choices. The first course may be a choice of salad mixta, soup or pasta. I always get the salad which 99% of the time is lettuce, tomato, canned tuna and maybe carrot and egg.
But the second course is ALWAYS French fries with some meat. You can choose chicken, pork, beef or
maybe veal or lamb. No veg.
Sigh. I just want some nice zucchini or spinach or green beans or kale por favor!
One evening we did encounter a Peregrino Dinner with a vegetarian option. I happily ordered the vegetarian paella instead of meat and fries. It was warm and yummy saffron rice with peas, beans, cauliflower and carrots.
In our 16 days on the Camino our best meals have
come in the bigger towns. No surprise. I’m still dreaming about the Caesar Salad and Eggplant hummus we had in Pamplona or the beautiful Salad Mixta with fresh tuna, asparagus and beets I had with Catalon soup in Burgos. And the best peregrino meal we enjoyed was a pork knuckle and the first course was fresh baby artichoke hearts with lemon in Puenta la Reina. Happiness on a plate.
And so I’ve grown even more appreciative of fresh food with fresh ingredients and a variety of fruits and vegetables. And when I can’t get it, well I am then grateful on those days for a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; – Ecclesiastes 9:7
191 miles done. 298 to go!