Typical dishes along the Camino de Santiago
Whatever the Camino de Santiago you choose, you know that food is going to be extremely important during your route. After each one of the stages, you deserve a prize and also, never forget, we are in Galicia, the land of great gastronomy. What to eat in Galicia is a simple question, but with a very long answer. So much so that, in this post, we are only going to tell you a few of the typical dishes along the Camino de Santiago.
Before their first Camino de Santiago, many pilgrims ask us how many pounds we think they will lose, after many days walking an average of twenty kilometers. If you have done the Camino, you are now laughing for sure, because you already know that it is normal to gain weight.
It doesn´t really matter which route you have chosen; you can eat very well everywhere. But you are going to visit some places where there are typical dishes that you cannot miss.
The Camino Inglés and the omelet from Betanzos
Although with the quality eggs and potatoes that we have in Galicia, we can boast of very tasty tortillas throughout our geography, THE PLACE to taste tortilla is Betanzos. If you do the Camino Inglés from Ferrol, you will find this beautiful town in the fourth stage of your journey of the typical dishes along the Camino de Santiago.
With an old town declared as historical-artistic complex, Betanzos preserves the medieval flavor of what was a Jacobean port (along with Coruña and Ferrol) for pilgrims from northern Europe. Taking a quiet walk through its streets is essential and, to end our day and regain strength, you must try their omelet.
In Betanzos there is no place for disputes between concebollistas (people who like omelet with onion) and sincebollistas, (people who like omelet without onion), nor between those who prefer the more or less curdled tortilla. The Betanzos omelet is what it is and you love it or hate it, although generally you will adore it for the rest of your life, and you will miss it each and every day you spend away from Betanzos. Yes, even if you are a concebollista and you also love a well-done egg. And it is that the tortilla in Betanzos is made without onion and with the interior practically raw (but not really).
The main secret of the Betanzos omelet is the quality of the ingredients, all of them from proximity. As we said before, in Galicia we have excellent eggs and potatoes. In Betanzos, they use Kennebec potatoes, the type that is protected with the denomination of origin “IXP Pataca de Galicia“. Of course, the eggs are also Galician and free range. But if there is something that distinguishes the Betanzos tortilla is its texture, which many compare to a “coulant”. Yes, the omelet in Betanzos is almost liquid on the inside. But nothing is as simple as it seems, because what you get is a cooked egg, never raw, with a particularly honeyed texture. It is not easy to find the point if you are not a purebred Betancer, but there are few things more pleasant in the mouth than the taste of a delicious omelet in that unique and exquisite texture.
It really seems a must at the end of the fourth stage of your English Way.
The Camino Francés, where the “pulpo” is eaten inland
If there is a place that pilgrims long to reach when they are walking the Camino Francés (beyond Santiago de Compostela or, sometimes, Finisterre) this is Melide. Thanks to its famous pulpeiras, Melide is a mandatory stop. So much so that many shorten the Palas de Rei – Arzúa stage of the Camino Francés from Sarria and spend an extra night in the capital of the “pulpo”. There are dozens of repentant pilgrims who, after having a sumptuous lunch in Melide, must resume the march of the Camino de Santiago towards Arzúa at siesta time.
But it is that Melide is not only THE PLACE to taste “pulpo” on the Camino de Santiago, but it is one of the best places in whole Galicia to do it. The title is only disputed by O Carballiño, curiously, another inland town.
Now is when you wonder how it is possible that a place so far from the sea can hold this position of honor when cooking “pulpo”. Obviously, “pulpo” served in Melide is “pulpo” from the Galician estuaries, but the enormous tradition of eating “pulpo” in Melide is justified by another Galician tradition: cattle fairs. Important cattle fairs are held in Melide and yes, as you may have guessed, the name of the most popular “pulpo” preparation has a lot to do with them.
Despite the coastal origin of the product, the preparation of “pulpo á feira” is typical of the interior places like Melide or O Carballiño.
We have surely given you an important clue if you were hesitating between doing the French Way with or without a stop in Melide.
The Camino Portugués through Padrón, where some peppers are hot, and others do not
In its final section, the Camino Portugués reproduces the route that the disciples Teodoro and Atanasio made with the remains of the Apostle Santiago until they were finally left in the place that we now know as Compostela. The stone boat in which they brought him from Palestine moored in Padrón and, from there, the route they followed is the same as that followed by the pilgrims of the Portuguese Way.
The peppers arrived at the same place, also by sea, although a few centuries later, in the 17th century. They were brought by Franciscan friars who returned from America and settled in the San Francisco de Herbón Convent, where they cultivated them with great success. Be careful with this because the genuine Padrón peppers have Pemento de Herbón designation of origin. If you wonder why some of them are hot, the answer is very simple, since they come from the Mexican region of Tabasco. And if you want to know why others are not, this is because, over the years, the cultivation technique has been refined, discarding the spiciest plants. Also, the longer it takes to harvest the pepper, the more likely it is to increase the presence of spiciness.
Padrón (Herbón) peppers are eaten in summer. The season begins on May the 1st and ends on October the 31st. If they offer them to you outside that date, they are false, so reject imitations.
Apart from its delicious flavor (they match great with omelets or “pulpo”), Padrón Peppers also offer us much fun as opening a box full of surprise envelopes.