Flan

Flan

nWho hasn’t come across flan as one of the dessert options on a menú del peregrino or a menú del día on the Camino de Santiago?

Flan is a very popular postre (dessert), and it is in fact an ancient dessert. Its origins go back to the times of the Roman Empire, although the old recipe was little different: there was no sugar back then, so miel (honey) was used instead.

Another difference was that the old version was sprinkled with pimienta (pepper). Today, flan is covered in liquid caramel.

The name flan first appeared in the Middle Ages and it could both a sweet and a savoury dish. In those days, people ate flan during Cuaresma (Lent), when carne (meat) was not allowed.

So, as you can see, flan has been around for a very long time and it’s always been popular, either as a dessert or as part of the main meal.

You can buy ready-made flan in any Spanish supermarket but a homemade one always tastes better.

It’s actually quite easy to make and it only needs basic ingredients that you can find anywhere. In fact, you only need 3 ingredients for the basic recipe: huevos (eggs), leche (milk) and azúcar (sugar). However, it is common to infuse the milk with vainilla (vanilla), canela (cinnamon) or limón (lemon).

 

Let’s make flan!

You will need:
  • 4 huevos (eggs)
  • 1/2 litre leche (milk)
  • 4 tablespoons azúcar (sugar)
  • vanilla, a cinnamon stick, lemon peel
  • caramelo líquido (liquid caramel). In Spain, you can buy this, ready-made, in any supermarket, but you can also make your own. You just need sugar, water and a pan. Two parts sugar, 1 part water.
So, put 6 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a heavy-based pan and place over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. When it starts bubbling up and taking a golden colour, reduce the heat and stir. Keep stirring until it becomes the colour of honey. If you like it more runny, you can add at this point 2 or 3 tablespoons of hot water. But be careful! The caramel is extremely hot and it can spit when you add the water.
 
 
 
Let it cool down for a couple of minutes and then pour on your flan mould(s), making sure you cover the base and the sides.
 
 
Now you can prepare the rest:

– Preheat the oven at 180ºC

– Infuse the milk with the flavour of your choice: bring the milk to the boil with a cinnamon stick and some lemon peel. When it starts boiling, remove it from the heat and let it cool down.

If you’re using vanilla extract, you can simply add a teaspoon to your mixture.

For a classic flan de huevo, skip this step.

– Combine the eggs and the sugar together until the sugar dissolves. The final result should have a jelly-like texture, wobbly and smooth. That’s why you should simply stir the eggs and the sugar together, not beat them. Beating them would add air to the mix, which would result in your flan being full of little ‘holes’ or air bubbles. Not what we’re looking for.

– Add the milk to the egg and sugar mixture and pour everything into your mould. You can use 6 individual moulds or 1 bigger one.

– Place your mould(s) on a baking tray with hot water (bain-marie). The water should not cover more than half of your moulds. Cover with foil and put into the oven.

Cooking time will depend on the size of your mould. If you’re using a bigger one, your flan will need around 45 minutes. If you’re using individual moulds, 30 minutes might be enough. Just check that the mixture is set.

– Take them out of the oven, remove them from the hot water and let them cool down at room temperature. Once they’re cold, you can put them in the fridge.

– When you’re ready to eat them, run a knife around the edge of the mould and flip it onto a plate. Your flan is ready!

 

Flan variations

You can also make the classic recipe with condensed milk. In that case, you won’t need sugar. For a 4-egg flan, you will need a small tin of condensed milk. You can use the tin to measure the milk: you will need 2.5 tins of milk.

 

Apart from being delicious, this is also a very versatile recipe. You may come across many different variations: chocolate, coffee, cheese, coconut, berries…

 

I like to make flan de manzana (with apple). You peel and cut 4 apples in pieces and place them in a pan with a very small amount of water, a cinnamon stick and lemon peel. You let them cook until the apples are soft (I like to find apple chunks but if you don’t, you can let the apples cook longer). You then add this apple compote to the egg, sugar and milk mixture and follow the rest of the instructions for the classic flan.

If you prefer a chocolate one, you warm up the milk and melt some dark chocolate into it. For a coffee one, add a couple of espressos. You get the idea…

 

So, which one are you going to make?

 

Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of huevos, azúcar, canela and limón, check Tarta de Santiago.

For the pronunciation of menú del día and menú del peregrino, check Eating on the Camino.

 

 

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Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Gazpacho |

It’s the end of September. Es otoño (it’s autumn). However, the temperatures this week have been very high, so it still feels a lot like summer. It gets a bit chilly early in the mornings and then again in the evenings but quite hot during the central hours of the day. ¡Hace calor! (it’s hot!).

It’s always important to stay hydrated but we must be extra careful in this kind of heat. In the south of Spain they know a lot about very hot weather so they came up with the perfect solution: gazpacho.

What is gazpacho?

Gazpacho is a cold soup. Its main ingredient is tomate (tomato), but it has other vegetables too. So it’s refreshing AND it’s also full of vitamins and minerals.

Gazpacho originated in Andalucía, in the south of Spain that’s why it’s also called gazpacho andaluz. But you can find it in other regions too. And as it happens with most traditional dishes, it has many variations.

Here’s the basic recipe.

You will need:

  • 1/2 kg tomates – they should be very ripe. In order to peel them, dip them in very hot water for a few seconds. The skin will come off very easily.
  • 1/2 pimiento verde (green pepper)
  • 1/2 pepino (cucumber)
  • Ajo (garlic), 1 clove
  • Aceite de oliva (olive oil)
  • Vinagre (vinegar)
  • 1 slice of pan (bread) – you need to soak it in a bit of water.
  • Sal (salt)

Chop the tomates, pimiento and pepino and blend them together with the ajo and pan. Season to taste with the aceite de oliva, vinagre and sal. Keep it in the fridge for one hour at least. And it’s ready!

Gazpacho can be taken as a soup or as a drink. When served as a soup, it is common to garnish it with croutons, cucumber and tomato cubes and chopped onion and egg. Actually, some people also add cebolla (onion) to their gazpacho, but not everybody does.

If you are planning to drink it, you can add some water, so it’s not so thick and you can also leave the bread out.

 

Gazpacho’s benefits

Gazpacho is refreshing and nutritious, but it has other benefits too:

  • It’s very easy to prepare!  All you need is a few basic ingredients and a blender. No cooking necessary.
  • It’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If you are ordering it at a restaurant, just remember to ask about the egg. It’s not part of the recipe, just a possible garnish. So even if the restaurant normally serves their gazpacho with some chopped egg, they should be able to accommodate you.

If you can’t remember how to ask about the ingredients in a dish, check my previous post Soy vegano/a.

  • It’s potentially suitable for coeliacs too. If you are not preparing it yourself, just remember to ask whether they’ve added pan.
  • You are on the Camino. It’s hot and you want some gazpacho but you can’t find it in bars/restaurants and you can’t prepare it. No worries! You can find it in supermarkets, in the chilled section, ready to drink.

Have you tried it already? No? What are you waiting for? Go get some gazpacho now!

 

For the pronunciation of pan, check Shopping on the Camino

For the pronunciation of aceite de oliva and sal, check Pulpo á feira

 

Today’s Spanish words and phrases

 

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¡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, in English, containing useful information and tips to prevent problems when eating out: https://www.celiacos.org/informacion/en-ingles/gluten-free-spain.html

 

This other link includes a list of restaurants in Galicia that have an agreement with the Celiacs Association to  provide a menú sin gluten. The website also includes links to restaurant and hotel chains that offer gluten-free meal options: https://www.celiacosgalicia.es/web/es/comer_fuera_de_casa

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

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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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¿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!