5 foods not to eat on the Camino

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rice dish paella

Not on the Camino

bowl of spaghetti
bacon sandwich in Spain

Spain is known for its delicious food but do you know what dishes to stay away from during your Camino trip? 

Paella

Paella is a wonderful rice dish cooked with seafood or meat and seasoned with peppers and saffron. It’s known for its bright yellow color and special round dish that it’s served in. It’s a difficult dish to make because the rice is a short grain rice variety and the dish must be cooked over an open fire to achieve the right consistency and flavor. While you might be able to find this dish on a menu or being served along the Camino, I would recommend avoiding it. Paella is typical of the Valencia region in the south east coast of Spain, so eating it in the northwest region of Spain would be like eating Texas BBQ in California. While you might be able to find a decent tasting paella, it probably wouldn’t be an authentic introduction to this amazing dish.

Pasta

Sometimes you just want a big bowl of carbs after a long walk on the Camino, but pasta is best to be avoided. The cooking method of pasta in Spain is highly variable and sauces are normally very oily and greasy. The noodles themselves always seem to be undercooked and a little hard and every dish seems to be bland and unseasoned. It’s tempting to see something as familiar as pasta on a Spanish menu and want to order it, but our advice is to stay away.

Hamburger (hamburguesa)

Growing up in Texas, I love myself some hamburgers. Big beef patties, grilled to perfection, and a great hearty meal after a long day of walking, right? Wrong! Hamburgers in Spain are nothing like what Americans would consider a hamburger- yes, it’s meat surrounded by a bun, but that’s where the similarities stop. The hamburger meat in Spain is usually pork or a combo beef and pork patty, which has a strange grey color and taste. The patty is very thin and unseasoned, but even adding your own salt doesn’t help with the flavor much. It usually comes with lettuce and tomato, and individual packets of ketchup. Spanish ketchup has an unfamiliar flavor and seems more like tomato paste than ketchup. The whole hamburger from bun to meat to condiments doesn’t work. It is not very good nor filling and is a waste of a meal along the Camino.

Bacon (beicon)

Random food here, but American bacon and Spanish bacon are completely different. I would say Spanish bacon resembles more a ham-like Canadian bacon than the long strips of meat Americans are accustomed too. Sometimes a cafe will advertise a British or American style breakfast with eggs, bacon and toast, but this should by all means be avoided. Eggs are normally powdered, bacon is weird and seemingly undercooked and overall the breakfast is disappointing. Bacon on hamburgers and inside sandwiches is the same type of strange meat, and you’ll even seen it mixed in with eggs (huevos revueltos con beicon). It’s best to be avoided.

Pizza

You can have bad pizza anywhere in the world, so while you’re on vacation in Spain, avoid this. Even frozen pizza in Spain isn’t good, and pizza along the Camino will more than likely be of the frozen variety. There are some cafes along The Way that try to cater to foreigners who are unfamiliar with Spanish food or are hesitant to try something new, but be the smart traveler and avoid this knock-off meal.

In my next post I’ll let you know the 5 foods you MUST try while on the Camino!

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