The Camino passes through a number of regions that sit under the umbrella of ‘Spain’. Yet some are as different in their customs and languages as individual countries.
When it comes to food, the regions of Northern Spain proudly serve cuisine that reflects their local produce, culture and traditions. In all regions, local cheeses and jamon (ham) are always highlights. Many traditional cheeses are virtually unknown outside Spain and are made by artisan cheese makers unique to their area.
While for pilgrims, most evening meals will be limited to the ‘Pilgrim Menu’ served in local bars, regional specialties still make an appearance. During the day, boccadillos (baguettes with different fillings) are sold at every bar.
In the Basque Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain, mountain streams provide trout that is often served stuffed with jamon. As you follow the Camino down into the rolling hills of Rioja, the famous wines of the region accompany tasty soups thick with the local potatoes and varied meals adorned with bright red bell peppers.
Further westward you will walk through the plains of Castile-Leon and flocks of sheep mean that roast lamb appears on the menus of the local restaurants. The regional garlic soup is a tasty addition to the pilgrim menu.
Beyond the central plains of the Meseta are the lush, green hills of Galicia. This is the region of seafood, pork and the famous ‘grelos’ (turnip greens). Another classic Galician specialty is ‘Caldo Gallego’, a filling soup of white beans, ham, potatoes, turnip greens and smoky chorizo sausage.
In Santiago de Compostella it seems only fitting to enjoy a slice or two of Tarta de Santiago (St James cake).
The famous Galician scallop that is a symbol of the Santiago pilgrimage originates on the Atlantic coast at Finnisterre, two days walk beyond Santiago. The local Galicians serve fresh scallops grilled with garlic, parsley, onion and a dash of sherry.