Food on the Camino de Santiago doesn’t get too much attention. You’re walking through small towns, over medieval bridges, and through farm lands, and thus food can be easily overlooked. But every Camino I’ve walked, one of my highlights has always been the food. I joke with my husband that we lived in Spain 10 years strictly for the food, and now every time I go back, I get immersed in how delicious everything actually is.
When reading reviews and other people’s experience on the Camino, most people complain about breakfast- which is my absolute favorite meal of the day. I take breakfast seriously and that is why on most stages of the Camino I dedicate myself to having 3 breakfasts each morning- not kidding. My first breakfast is at the hotel around 7am. It’s always the same- café con leche (coffee with milk), zumo de naranja (orange juice) and un pan con tomate (toast with pureed tomato) or pan con mermelada (toast with jelly). Every. Single. Day. This is my first breakfast. Now before you say you don’t drink coffee, or you drink it black, or whatever the excuse may be- please trust me on this.
The cup of café con leche, no matter where it comes from, will be the most decadent delicious coffee you will ever have. It comes with one packet of sugar and you must pour the whole thing in. It won’t be a large coffee, just a perfect cup of true heaven.
Even when my feet hurt and I was sore from walking up and down hills, what got me out of bed each morning was the idea of this coffee. I have an espresso machine at home and I have been trying to replicate this coffee, but to no avail. I think it has to do with the creamy Galician milk that’s used in the making of this drink, but whatever it is, it can only be found in Spain.
Next I move onto the orange juice. My husband’s uncle has an orange orchard in Valencia, Spain, and he’s always talking about how the oranges and juice in Spain are the best in the world. Not being a huge juice fan, it took me a few years to finally try orange juice in a café, but when I did- OMG! He’s right. I have never tasted juice like this. Most bars have a machine that slices the oranges and squeezes out the juice, and many super markets have this as well and you can fill up your own juice bottle. Depending on the season the sweetness of the oranges vary, but it’s a must try and must have to every start of the day.
Next comes the bread. This will either be a thick slice of traditional sandwich bread or a long baguette slice. Sometimes it will be served with pureed tomato, oil and salt, while other times you’ll be given butter and jelly. I know the pureed tomato sounds unappealing, but it is super delicious, fresh and my absolute favorite breakfast. I like to add lots of salt to my tomato and just a drop of oil and it hits the spot. There’s just something unique and simple about this, but I find the high quality of produce and the simplicity make it that much more delicious. The bread with jelly is also excellent. Just one big piece of toast, one jelly packet, and a knife and fork to eat it with.
As you see above, breakfast is simple. No eggs, no sausage, no cereal, just basic carbs and coffee/orange juice. This reminds me of time I was an elementary school teacher in Spain and we were writing penpal letters to a school in the US. Almost all of my Spanish students said they had milk and cookies for breakfast! I joked that they all must be Santa Claus, but Spaniards really do have simple breakfasts- for kids, milk and cookies- for adults bread and coffee.
Time in Spain, especially in Galicia, moves at a slower pace. I love to “take my time” while walking the last 100 km. I don’t race, or have any time pressure to be somewhere. I can’t look at a day as walking 20 km, but instead I look at it in terms of short walks with food breaks in between.
Now I mentioned I have 3 breakfasts while walking the camino, and it’s true. After my initial breakfast at the hotel or local café, I like to walk for 2 or 3 hours and then stop for another coffee and bite to eat. By this time it’s around 9 or 10, my legs have loosened up and aren’t stiff, but my feet begin to feel achy and I like to sit somewhere, adjust my shoes and take a short 15 minute break to regroup and snack. My second breakfast always includes café con leche, and usually a small sandwich. Either a bocadillo de tortilla or jamon (sandwich of Spanish tortilla or ham). Sometimes it’s just a piece of tortilla or slice of tarta de Santiago (st, james almond cake), but it’s light and feels great to sit down and relax. My 3rd and final breakfast is around 12-1. I’ve been walking for 3+ hours, tired and needing a break before I walk the final stretch. At this stop I always have an Aquarius de Naranja and a bocadillo. Aquarius de Naranja is a soft drink, kind of like Gatorade, made by coca-cola, but only sold in Spain. It is so refreshing, it’s like drinking lightly flavored mineral water, but exceptionally satisfying. I usually get a bottle to go too, and I take half my sandwich with me if it’s a large one. This rest is about 15-20 minutes, and it’s the perfect little stop before I walk the last few hours.
Have you ever had a spectacular breakfast on the Camino that was memorable? Comment below!