Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de patatas |

What’s the first dish that comes to mind when you think about typical Spanish food? Hands up those who are thinking “paella”!


Well, paella is very popular. But it’s not a typical Spanish dish. Paella is really a creation of Valencian cuisine -the region of Valencia is on the Mediterranean coast.


Every region in Spain has its own traditional dishes. Examples are pulpo in Galicia or gazpacho (cold tomato soup) in Andalucía.


So, is there any dish that is not particular to a region? The answer is… tortilla de patatas (omelette), a Camino classic. Unless you are alérgico a los huevos or vegano, I’m sure you will eat plenty of tortilla during your Camino.


About the ‘tortilla’ name

First of all, I’d like to clarify some wrong informations I’ve seen about the name of the dish. One “useful-phrase” list I saw included the following translations:

  • Tortilla – Spanish omelette.
  • Tortilla de patatas – Spanish omelette with potato.
  • Tortilla española – Spanish omelette with ham and onion. 

This is not correct. Basically, all three names refer to the same dish: an omelette with patatas (potatoes) and, in many cases, cebolla (onion) too. If it doesn’t have patatas, then we call it tortilla francesa (French omelette). And if it has jamón (ham), then it’s just a tortilla con jamón.


The first written records of tortilla de patatas date back to the 18th century. There are different theories about its origins, but they all have something in common: tortilla was created while trying to come up with a nutritious and filling food in times of poverty and famine. 

OK, you’ve tasted it already and now you would like to recreate it at home. I’ll tell you how. It’s very easy!


First, we need to decide… ¿Con o sin cebolla? (With or without onion?). 

This issue generates very heated debates in Spain. Some would argue that a “real” tortilla española must have onion, whereas other don’t think it’s an essential ingredient. You decide how to make yours!


To make tortilla de patatas you will need…

Patatas – around 300g

Huevos – 5 or 6

Cebolla (optional) 

Aceite (oil) – plenty of olive oil to fry the potatoes. You can also use sunflower oil.

Sal (salt)


Here’s how to prepare your tortilla:


  • First, peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Chop the onion if you are using it.
  • Pour the oil in a frying pan and heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes (and onion) and let them fry on a medium heat until they are golden.
  • While the potatoes are frying, crack and beat the eggs in a big bowl. 
  • Drain the potatoes (and onion) from the oil and mix them with the beaten eggs. The mixture should be runny. If it’s too thick, you can add more egg. Season with some salt. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes.
  • You won’t need all that oil for the next part. So, you can just pour it into a container; if you’re using olive oil, you can reuse it a few times, when making your next tortillas!
  • Put the frying pan back on the heat, with just a small amount of oil. When it’s hot, add the egg and potato mixture and let it cook for a few minutes. Give it a shake or run a spoon through the edges to make sure it’s not sticking.
  • Then, the tricky part comes: get a plate that’s bigger than your frying pan and use it to turn the tortilla. Carefully flip the frying pan over the plate and tip out the tortilla, then slide it back into the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through.


tortilla de patatas fry the potatoes

Slice and fry the potatoes

tortilla de patatas beat the eggs

Beat the eggs

tortilla de patatas pour mixture

Your tortilla de patatas is ready. All you have to do is serve and enjoy!

Tortilla is a very versatile dish. The one you will find in most bars and cafés along the Camino will be the basic tortilla: eggs, potato and probably onion too. But you can add many ingredients to it: pimientos (peppers) are very common, chorizo, champiñones (mushrooms)… What are you going to add to yours?

tortilla con espinacas

Here’s a tortilla I made with spinach

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.:


This other link is specific to Galicia and includes establishments that have an agreement with the Celiacs Association to  provide a menú 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: 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

Make sure you don’t miss any posts by subscribing for free here. That way, when a new post is out, you will get it in your inbox. And… you get access to exclusive content too.

You can also download your free Camino food guide here, with lots of useful info and Spanish.


¡Buen Camino!