Food is one of the greatest pleasures when exploring new countries but sometimes it can also be a bit confusing, if you don’t speak the local language. Today we share an easy guide to help you navigate your way across all the tasty menus, flavours and food on the Camino de Santiago.
Menu del Dia or Menu del Peregrino?
Menu del Dia is an affordable set menu with simple homely dishes that change every day and is very common across Spain, particularly at lunchtime.
The Menu del Peregrino, or Pilgrim Menu, is a Camino version of the classic Menu del Dia and widely available along the Camino de Santiago towns and villages.
A typical Menu del Peregrino will give you two or three choices for your starter, main and desert, generally including bread and water or a coffee.
Dishes included in the menu del dia tend to be simple and hearty such as lentil stew, soup or salad for starters and meat, pasta or fish as a main course. Prices can range approximately from 8 to 15 euro per person.
Some restaurants might even have two versions of their daily set menu, one of them including dishes considered fancier, more elaborate or that include more expensive ingredients such as seafood.
Get the ‘Carta’
If you are not convinced by what’s on offer on the daily menu or prefer having more choice you can request the restaurant’s full menu, known as ‘Carta’, which will include all the dishes available and therefore more variety.
‘Carta’ is what in English we would call the ‘Menu’, while ‘Menu del dia’ is a set menu, hence the confusion that arises sometimes for English speakers when ordering food on the Camino de Santiago and Spain in general.
The gastronomy along the Camino de Santiago routes is as diverse and rich as the regions you will be walking across.
From the sheep cheeses crafted in the mountains of the Pyrenees to the chorizo infused potatoes in La Rioja, cured ‘botillo’ meat in El Bierzo, Asturias famous fabada bean stew, empanada pastries and all kinds of fish, seafood and of course octopus in Galicia.
There are also many regional specialities bearing the ‘Denominación de origen protegida DOP’ label which indicates that the product is specific from that particular region and is protected.
This is the case for instance with Padron peppers, O Cebreiro cheese, as well as many wines such as La Rioja and El Bierzo.
Tapas or Pintxos?
Many travellers are familiar with the concept of tapas, as small plates of food served in bars for a moderate price. In some parts of Spain they are served complimentary when you order drinks.
Bite-size pintxos are a similar concept, but they tend to be served often on bread and with a toothpick, hence its name which comes from ‘pinchar’ to pick.
There is also a bit of overlapping which makes things a bit more complicated for visitors. Whether you encounter tapas, pintxos or both on your travels, they are both great ways of discovering different food on the Camino de Santiago.
Vegetarian food on the Camino
Vegetarian dishes can be found in traditional cuisine along the Camino de Santiago routes such as Spanish tortilla, gazpacho, grilled vegetables, spinach chickpeas, patatas bravas and vegetarian paella.
Vegetarian and vegan options will be widely available in bigger cities, while choice in small towns might not be as easy to find.
Vegetarian pilgrims on the Camino must be aware of foods that might sound vegetarian when they aren’t since they might use meat-based stock (like in Caldo Galego and many soups) or fish, like mixed salad and ‘ensaladilla’ which generally include tuna.
We hope you enjoyed these tasty guide to food on the Camino de Santiago and that you find it useful for your trip.
You can find some of our favourite dishes not to miss on our blog post about Spanish food.
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