Pulpo á feira

Pulpo á feira

Galicia has a coastline of close to 1,500 km. So it’s only natural that pescado (fish) and marisco (shellfish) are the stars of Galician cuisine.

From mejillones (mussels) and merluza (hake) to chipirones (baby squid) or the expensive percebes (goose barnacles), there is a wide variety of sea produce to choose from.

But if I had to pick one only, it would have to be pulpo (octopus). Pulpo can be prepared in different ways. But the most popular and best known octopus recipe in Galicia is pulpo á feira, a very simple yet delicious dish. Á feira literally means fair-style.

Nowadays, you can find pulpo in many bares and restaurantes. But in the past, it was something you ate on fair days. There still are people who specialize in cooking pulpo. They go from one fair to another, set up their stall and serve pulpo.

 

Here’s how to prepare pulpo á feira

  • If you buy a fresh pulpo, the first thing you need to do is to clean it very well and freeze it for at least a couple of days, in order to tenderize it. Otherwise, it will be too hard.
  • When you are ready to prepare it, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw.
  • Bring a big pot of water to the boil.
  • Hold the pulpo by the head and dip it in and out of the boiling water three times. This will prevent the skin peeling off.
  • After you’ve dipped it three times, put it back in the pan and bring it back to the boil. Cooking time depends a bit on the size of the pulpo, but it will take around 30 minutes. You can check with a fork if it’s tender enough (it should be kind of “al dente”, not too hard, not too tender).
  • Once it’s cooked, take the pan away from the heat but leave the pulpo in the water for another 20 minutes.
  • Then, cut it into pieces and arrange them on a serving plate (traditionally, it is served on a wooden plate).
  • Sprinkle with sal (salt) and pimentón (paprika), picante (hot, spicy) if you like. And drizzle with aceite de oliva (olive oil).
  • Finally, serve with plenty of pan and enjoy!

Pulpo can also be served with patatas. If you prefer it this way, here’s the secret to the perfect patatas. Take some of the water you used to cook the pulpo and use it to boil them. So much nicer than just boiling them in plain water!

Have you had pulpo á feira already? Did you like it? Share your experience!

 

Today’s Spanish words

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For more recipes and food info, download my free Camino Food Guide.

 

¡Buen Camino!

Tengo alergia a…

Tengo alergia a…

The Camino de Santiago is for many a life-changing experience that takes you out of your comfort zone: you are in a foreign land where they speak a different language… and they eat differently too!

 

It can be a wonderful opportunity to try new foods and discover new flavours that you may later try to recreate at home. But if you have any food allergies, it can be very stressful not knowing whether you can get the right food, or not being sure whether something is safe for you to eat.

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post with tips and Spanish for veganos and vegetarianos who wish to do the Camino de Santiago. I know it’s not the same; if you suffer from food allergies, accidentally eating the wrong food can be life-threatening or it can make you very sick. But still, most of the tips and vocabulary I shared in that post can be used in case of alergia or intolerancia.

 

Shopping for food 

If you decide to buy your food, you should know that labels must clearly indicate any allergens present in the product:

 

  • On the ingredient list, you can see allergens in bold or capitals.
  • After the ingredient list, there is usually a list of possible traces of other foods, as well as a full list of allergens (this is not always present, so make sure you check the ingredient list).

When a particular product is safe to eat for a specific group, the label clearly indicates so. You can see different examples in the pictures.

These show a variety of food products that are suitable for celíacos (celiacs), because they are sin gluten (literally, without gluten).

The first picture shows a product that is suitable for veganos (sin huevo y sin lácteos – no egg, no dairy), which would also make it suitable for people with egg or dairy allergies. The second one shows a product sin lactosa (lactose free).

 

Most supermarkets these days have a good selection of products sin gluten and sin lactosa. Smaller towns and villages might not have so many options, so it’s a good idea to buy a few extra things when you get the chance.

 

Eating out when you have food allergies

Eating outside is also possible, as long as you take some precautions such as informing the waiter/waitress about your alergia or intolerancia.

 

  • You can say No puedo comer… (+ food you are allergic to), which means “I cannot eat…
  • Alternatively, you could also say Tengo alergia a…(again, complete with food you are allergic to).

 

Let’s say you are allergic to peanuts. You could say:

 

No puedo comer cacahuetes or Tengo alergia a los cacahuetes…

or a combination of both, just to make sure the message gets a cross:

 

No puedo comer cacahuetes. Tengo alergia. 

 

Some menus will have allergen information. You will see little symbols like these:

tengo alergia a

If this information is not there or if you are not sure, remember you can always ask about the ingredients in any dish (check Soy vegano/a for that info). And you can also ask for an ingredient to be left out. For instance, if you don’t want cream you could ask sin nata, por favor.

 

Do you suffer from food allergies and you have done the Camino?  Please share your experience!

 

* For celíacos, here’s a link, where you can find gluten-free bars, restaurants, etc.: https://www.viajarsingluten.com/en/restaurantes-sin-gluten/

 

This other link is specific to Galicia and includes establishments that have an agreement with the Celiacs Association to  provide a menú sin gluten: https://celiacosgalicia.es/es/restauracion-sin-gluten/

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Soy vegano/a

Soy vegano/a

Soy vegano. Or soy vegetariano.

I’ve seen an increase in the number of future pilgrims asking about the availability of vegetarian or vegan dishes along the Camino de Santiago. They worry that it will be hard for them to find suitable food. And it’s understandable.

Obviously, you need adequate nourishment.

And, although it’s true that the Mediterranean diet includes a lot of vegetables and pulses, it is also true that Spain is not the most vegetarian-friendly country. It’s common for an ensalada to have tuna; and a “vegetable sandwich” with either tuna or a slice of ham is a classic (and nobody thinks it’s odd!).

Things are changing and it’s not unusual now to find restaurantes vegetarianos or veganos. But they are not available everywhere. They are more common in the bigger cities. But the Camino goes through a lot of smaller towns and rural areas. So, is it possible to do the Camino as a vegetariano/a* or vegano/a*?

The short answer is: YES! It’s possible, with some planning.

 

What are your options as a vegan or vegetarian on the Camino?

 

You have two main choices:

  • You can buy food and snacks from the local fruterías and supermercados (see Shopping on the Camino for the pronunciation of these words). Some albergues have kitchens where you can prepare your own meal. You just need to find out if the place where you are staying has such facilities.

 

  • Or you can also eat out and enjoy the local cuisine, even in the smaller towns. And it’s probably easier than you think.

 

There are many Spanish dishes that are naturally vegetariano/vegano or can be easily adapted (In this article you can find a long list of Spanish dishes that are suitable for vegans: https://www.thenomadicvegan.com/the-ultimate-vegan-guide-to-spain/). You just need to know a few Spanish words and phrases to make sure you get the right food:

 

Soy vegetariano / Soy vegetariana or Soy vegano / Soy vegana

I’m a vegetarian or I’m a vegan.

 

*If you are a male, you will refer to yourself as vegetariano/vegano. If you are a female, you will use vegetariana/vegana instead.

 

  • You can also specify the foods you don’t eat by saying No como… (I don’t eat…) + anything you need to mention, such as carne (meat), pescado (fish), huevos (eggs), lácteos (dairy) or queso (cheese). If you have food allergies, get more info here.

 

  • Let’s say you are not sure about the ingredients of any particular dish: you can ask ¿Lleva carne, huevo…? (Does it have… meat, egg…?).

 

  • If a dish is mostly vegan, but it has some egg or cheese, for instance, you can still order it and ask them to serve it sin huevo (without egg) or sin queso (without cheese).

 

  • You could even take advantage of the menú del día. I know I said in this previous post that the second course is normally pescado or carne. No problem! You can explain that you are vegetariano/vegano and ask if you could take dos primeros (two first courses) instead of a primero and a segundo. Most places wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

Do you have any experience as a vegetariano/a or vegano/a in the Camino de Santiago? You can share it in the comments!

 

Today’s Spanish words

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¡Buen Camino!

Menú del día

Menú del día

Menú del día |

A couple of weeks ago I said that comida means food in Spanish. But comida is also what we call the most important meal of the day: lunch. You can also refer to lunch as almuerzo, but comida is used more frequently -and it’s easier to pronounce! So I’ll use comida.

If you have been to Spain before you will know this. But if you haven’t, you should be warned: mealtimes in Spain are late compared to other countries. The reason for this is that we are living in the wrong time zone (this article explains it in more detail).

 

As I was saying, la comida is the most important meal, but obviously not the only one. We also have:

  • Desayuno (breakfast). Spaniards, in most cases, don’t take desayuno too seriously. Many just drink a cup of coffee before leaving their homes. That’s why it’s common for people to go down to their nearest bar or cafetería during their break, for a mid-morning café con leche and pincho. Despite that, we have a verb meaning “to have breakfast”: desayunar.

 

  • Cena (dinner). It is usually a light meal. 10:00pm is a perfectly acceptable (and normal) time to have dinner. It’s not common for restaurants to start serving la cena before 8:30pm. We also have a verb meaning “to have dinner”: cenar.

 

La comida

Since it’s the most important meal, let’s concentrate on la comida. I already said that lunch in Spain is late, compared to other countries: don’t expect restaurants to start serving lunch before 1:30pm. And you normally have a couple of options:

  1. You can choose from the full carta or menú (menu). This option tends to be more expensive, but it gives you the freedom to choose exactly what you want.
  2. You can go for the menú del día. Generally a more economical option. The price is set and you get at least 2 or 3 choices for each course.

 

El menú del día

Menú del día was introduced by law in the 60’s. Back then it was called menú turístico and, as the name suggests, it was created to cater for all the tourists that started visiting Spain in those days. The government set the prices and what the menu should include. It should be served as fast as possible and it should also try to promote typical Spanish dishes among the tourists.

Things have changed since, and restaurantes don’t have to offer a menú del día (although most do). Needless to say, prices are not set by the government either and they can vary a lot from one place to another.

menu del dia

The picture shows a real menú del día from a restaurant along the Camino Portugués.

 

In this menu, you can see the first and second courses separated by a line. So you have siete  (7) primeros and cinco segundos to choose from. The price is €12.00 (€12.20 if you sit outside) and it also includes a bebida (drink), postre (dessert) and café (coffee).

The primeros usually include vegetables, soups, eggs and/or pasta. All of these are included in this menu:

Vegetables: ensalada (salad) as well as vegetable wok.

Soups: lentejas (lentil soup) and crema de verduras.

Eggs: revuelto (scrambled eggs).

Pasta: tortellini.

The segundos are in most cases either fish or meat dishes.

Do you know all the dishes in this menu? What would you order?

Para mí, de primero, lentejas y de segundo, salmón a la plancha.  How about you?

 

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

 

For the pronunciation of primero and segundo, check Eating on the Camino.

 

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¡Buen Camino!

¿Dónde vas a comer?

¿Dónde vas a comer?

¿Dónde vas a comer? |

Last week I answered a couple of basic questions about food/eating on the Camino. In short, you can buy food in the shops and cook your own meals, if you are staying at an albergue with cocina. Or you can eat out.

I also explained how the menú del día works: it’s usually a three-course meal for a set price. You get at least 2-3 dishes to choose from for each course (primero, segundo and postre).

In restaurantes along the Camino you can also find a menú del peregrino, which works in the same way as menú del día.

But restaurantes are not the only place where you can eat, and menú del día or menú del peregrino are not your only choices. So,

¿Dónde vas a comer?

or

Where are you going to eat?

 

  • You can get comida in a bar. Apart from drinks, bares also serve bocadillos (sandwiches), raciones, tapas and pinchos (or pintxos).

I have translated bocadillo as sandwich, but I should warn you! A bocadillo is not made with sliced bread. It’s served on baguette (or a similar type of bread) and it can be filled with almost anything: cold meats, fish, beef, pork, chicken… If you prefer sliced bread, then the word is sandwich, just like in English (but the choice of fillings will be more limited).

Raciones, tapas and pinchos are not different types of food. The different words refer to portion size:

Ración is the biggest of the three. It’s a normal size dish, enough for one person.

Tapa is a smaller portion, like a quarter of a ración.

Pincho (pintxo) is the smallest portion. Traditionally, it was a small piece of bread with something on top, all held together with a cocktail stick. However, pinchos have evolved a lot in recent years. In the Basque Country in particular, pintxos (you will find this spelling there) can be very elaborate, almost like a form of art.

So, if you are on the Camino del Norte, make sure you go and experience the pintxo culture. San Sebastián is very famous for its pintxos bars.

dónde vas a comer pinchos
dónde vas a comer bocadillo
  • You can also get comida in a cafetería. Cafeterías don’t have “proper” cocinas, so the comida they can offer is limited to cold dishes or hot ones that can be cooked on a grill.

 

In both bares and cafeterías you might get a complimentary tapa or pincho. But this practice differs a lot from one town to another and even from one bar to another.

If you have any favourite foods that you tried on the Camino, I’d love to hear about it. You can just leave a comment!

 

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Eating on the Camino

Eating on the Camino

Eating on the Camino |

You probably have many questions about eating on the Camino de Santiago. After all, la comida (food) is a very important part not just of the Camino, but of life in general.

Is food easily available along the Camino?

What kind of comida will I find? Will it be nutritious enough? 

How much money do I need to budget for food? 

Should I carry food with me?

Should I carry food with me?

The short answer to this question is NO. Remember what I said about the mochila? Yes, you have to carry the weight, so you should not pack any unnecessary items. You can take a couple of snacks such as frutos secos (nuts), chocolate (no translation needed, right?) or fruta (fruit) in case you need an energy boost at any point in time.

And agua (water), to make sure you stay hydrated. Again, no need to take huge amounts, as you will be able to refill your bottle in fountains and taps along the way. I know this is an issue that worries many, but tap water is generally safe to drink. It gets checked on a regular basis and if it’s not suitable for consumption, it will be marked “no potable”.

 

Is food easily available along the Camino?

YES, comida is widely available along the Camino. You will be walking through towns and villages with shops, cafés, bars, restaurants… So, no need to carry a big load.

For your main meals you have several options:

  • Some albergues provide food, but not all. And many of the public albergues have a cocina (kitchen), although the equipment might be insufficient. If a cocina is available, you could decide to cook your own meals. You should then find a supermercado and buy what you need.

 

  • Another option is to eat out. It’s a bit more expensive than cooking your meals, but it can still be done on a budget. Most restaurants offer a menú del día (menu of the day) for a very reasonable price.

Menú del día is a set menu that usually consists of three courses: a primero (starter/ first course), a segundo (main course) and a postre (dessert). It includes some bebida (drink), too. For each course, you will have a choice of at least two or three dishes. Unless you have any dietary restrictions, this should cover all your nutritional needs.

In restaurants along the Camino you can also find a menú peregrino (pilgrim menu) which works in the same way as menú del día.

Just one warning: if you are a vegetarian, check before you eat! Salads often have tuna and even a “vegetable” sandwich could have a slice of ham or some tuna!

 

The food might not be what you are used to, but you should be open to try new things. It’s all part of the experience!

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!