5 Tasty Reasons to Hike the Camino de Santiago

We thru-hike to eat, and to eat whatever we want. Not that I have to twist your arm to want to hike the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain, but here’s some more enticement in the form of better-than-food-bag eats.

1) Sangria

Wine + fruit = elixir of the gods. With the Camino passing through La Rioja, a major wine region in Spain, there’s no shortage of vino tinto. One of my favorite days was when I got to the famous wine fountain on the trail just past the town of Estella. That’s right, a wine fountain. It didn’t matter that it was only 8 a.m. I was gonna have me some free wine. But back to sangria. The refreshing mixed drink was always a welcome delight after a day of trekking. I didn’t see sangria offered until about three weeks into the hike, but after that I made sure to ask for it everywhere I went. Sadly, not many places have it premade so it made it a special treat when I could find it.

2) Churros

A churro is a fried-dough pastry, usually with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, so basically a little piece of heaven. I knew this was an item to be on the lookout for before arriving in Spain, thanks to a friend and former pilgrim. I kept my eyes peeled and was rewarded in the bigger city of Burgos when I saw a sign saying “Chocolate con Churros.” I did a double take and beelined straight for the café. The hot chocolate was in a mug but it wasn’t like any hot chocolate I have ever had. It was much thicker and I wasn’t sure if it was for dipping the churros in or for drinking, so I did both. I’d fly back to Spain just to eat churros.

3) Café con Leche

I’m not a big coffee drinker, but by the end of my pilgrimage I was stopping for café con leche at least twice a day. I even created a coffee crawl challenge with my hiking partners on the last full day of hiking where we had to stop in every town to have a coffee. Luckily we edited the rules of the challenge a couple of stops in to prevent our hearts from beating out of our chests. New rule stated that we didn’t all have to get a coffee as long as at least one person did. This might not seem like a big deal but the Camino passes through many towns during the course of a day. In my notes, we stopped at five cafes that day.

4) Tapas

Also known as pinchos, depending on the region of Spain, these are small snacks found lining the counters at bars. My first introduction to pinchos was on Calle Laurel in the town of Logroño. In a way it reminded me of a buffet where you could pick and choose what you wanted. Everything is individually plated and when you pick the different dishes that you want, the waiter will warm them up if needed. Some of my favorites involved seafood and were paired with vino blanco.

5) Paella

I only got to try this rice dish a few times, but every time I did I left the table with a full belly. Besides being visually attractive, the mix of ingredients in paella blends together, resulting in a very rich flavor. Offered with meat, seafood, or just vegetables, this is a staple in many Spaniard’s homes. The picture shows a communal pot of paella served at one of the albergues where I stayed.

Now that I’ve got your mouth watering, check out my other article for a more detailed account of the Camino pilgrimage.

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