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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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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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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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!