I have to admit, I was really looking forward to meeting the leaner, fitter me that I thought would emerge after walking for 800 kilometers. Turned out I emerged fitter but probably not weighing that much less. In all honesty, I never bothered to climb on a scale either before or after the walk but just looking at the changes in my body, I certainly noticed a firming of sorts. As I needed the energy to keep walking, I decided that that meant I could eat whatever I wanted! 'Whatever-I-wanted' turned out to be a chocolate croissant almost every morning with my coffee, crepes Suzette and creme caramel as part of three course dinners, hot chocolate, sweets for the road...
I'm sure you get the picture! If you don't, allow me to treat you a visual tour of some of the delicacies that came my way during my 35 day trip!
Let's start off with the salads. I have to say, the recipes didn't change that much but I always enjoyed the typical asparagus, tuna, corn, tomato and lettuce combination that arrived on my table. I found it to be filling and once you're a week or two into the trip you notice the slightest variation - an added slice of apple or olive becomes a real treat! The old me would have moaned and groaned about this boring repetition, week after week, but somehow on the Camino I saw food as a blessing that sustained me and I only recall sending empty plates back to the kitchen!
This salad was a real treat, prepared for three of us by my Spanish friend Ivana at the albergue in Azofra. Chickpeas, boiled eggs and carrots with olive oil, loads of laughs and a glass of red wine - enjoyed under the trees next to a little pool in the courtyard - priceless!
Then come the mains! From vegetable soup to tripe, I was game to taste it all!
Yes, you guessed it - this is a plate of tripe and trotters. When I saw this on the menu in a little restaurant in Al Acebo, the quaintest mountain village on the route, I knew that that was going to be supper! My mother and grandmother have always prepared the best tripe dishes, so I am quite familiar, and yes, quite in love with this dish. This was prepared with different spices and takes a second place to my mom's recipe but nonetheless, it made me think of home and once again, my plate went back empty!
Paella - Camino style!
I really looked forward to having this dish as I'd heard so much about it before starting the walk. This is Pulpo, or octopus, and the place to have it, according to the guide books, is Pulperia Ezekiel in a town called Melide. The restaurant itself looks like a school dining room with long tables and benches - they seem to do mass production of this one dish, so not very personable. The food however, was good and the advantage is that by the time you get to this spot you know just about every other patron in the restaurant, so company is also bound to be good. I found them to be expensive and almost felt as if I was falling straight into a tourist trap but I'm glad I stopped to experiense the Pulpo, if nothing else!
Good old trusted calamari rings and a nice bottle of wine was lunch with my husband in Finisterre!
This was dessert at the famous albergue in Villar de Mazarife, San Antonio de Padua. Pepe Giner, who runs this place, is not only a wonderful physiotherapist but a great cook as well!
No words needed with this image... I justified eating this by telling myself the distance I was going to walk the next day would balance out the calories!
I found the Tarta de Santiago irresistible! I'm still to experiment with it back home but this traditional tart has been associated with the Camino for a very long time. For the recipe and a little more information, click here.
I am not able to start my day without a cup of coffee. True to form then, this is how every day on the Camino began. Coffee in glasses, coffee in plastic containers, coffee in mugs, coffee in cups. One of the first things I learnt to ask for - café con leche. Sometimes it came out in Portuguese but they always understood me! Have I mentioned that I love the coffee in Spain? I can honestly say that I did not have one bad cup of coffee on this trip. Somehow a good cup of coffee and a croissant before you start walking in the morning helps you deal with whatever your challenges are, be it blistered feet, a bad night's rest because you were in the middle of a snoring contest - even a heavy backpack seemed to feel lighter after a good cuppa!
Then there were the snacks...
Just to make sure you know that I also added healthy things to my daily menu - here are some of the choices I had offered to me along the way. Sometimes it was just lying on the ground, sometimes it was displayed along the roadside and you could help yourself in exchange for a 'donativo' and sometimes it was offered to you by fellow pilgrims. Either way - I never lacked a choice of fresh fruit and vegetables along the route.
Finally - the beer shandy!
My absolute favourite drink to have when it's really hot and especially when I'm really tired, is an ice cold beer shandy. For those of you who are not familiar with this drink, it's beer mixed with either a fizzy lemonade or lemon juice. I soon learnt that in Spain I have to ask either for a Clara, or for a Cerveza con limonada. A true lifesaver when the sun sits high and your pack weighs heavy on your back!
A typical day on the Camino! Tending to aching feet whilst enjoying a shandy at a roadside cafe - no one would blink an eye in this part of the world! I often smile to myself when we're at a nice restaurant back home, enjoying a shandy outdoors and I wonder what people would say if I took my shoes off and brought out my Betadine and plasters! You've got to love life on the Camino!
A Magnum ice cream and a coke for the road, a shandy with lunch and a stamp in my Pilgrim's passport. Three of the daily chores taken care of at one stop!
So, as you can see, there is no reason to think that you won't be fed on the Camino! They've got that sorted. I guess if you're considering undertaking this adventure to lose weight, you'd better start working on that willpower right now!