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The Camino de Santiago in its dishes

By Rosa Tovar, culinary culture researcher | 19/09/2019

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On the Camino de Santiago and on its cuisine, they have written the most notable feathers of our country and much of Europe for so long and from such interesting, but also very disparate approaches, that there is not much to say and much less to be discussed. There is also no shortage of the current prescriptions and the payrolls of typical dishes of the Camino, from its origin in France and even from the places where the pilgrims departed more east, more north and more south of Santiago de Compostela. There are expert and well-argued writings about cheeses, wines, roasts, sweets, restaurants ... that the pilgrim can find along the Camino in all his cited trajectories. There are even very well-educated analyses of the recommendations of the fifth book of Codex Calixtino. It is very difficult to find perspectives on gastronomy on the Camino de Santiago that can provide new information to the traveller.


This is why I found it more interesting to enumerate some of the preparations that, although not all of them are the most popular in our days as characteristic of the Camino, although some are very famous and even celebrated for other reasons, they do have or may have their origin in the regions crossing the Camino or, at least, very close, which will add a plus of some originality with the addition of some comments on the origin of a few. With this idea in mind I have encouraged myself to draw my own Jacobean route on the path of the French Way, to meet a challenge I accepted a few weeks ago. I have to add that I have done the Camino de Santiago, not as a pilgrim to use. I have been a volunteer working in the revival of a group of young people with difficulties in social adaptation.



In its kitchen Navarre gathers traditions from the old kingdom of Aragon and Vizcondado de Bearn, south of the duchy of Aquitaine. Bearn, from where part of the French Way we commented, belonged intermittently to Aragon, to the kingdom of Navarre itself and to the duchy of Aquitaine. The relationship between these places, not only political, was continuous for centuries and at grazing summits it still exists, so in their kitchens and customs there are many similarities.

The first of these proposed examples is the croquette, common to all the territories mentioned. It is one of the most emblematic tapas today in our country, whose origin I have traced until I locate it between Navarra and the Bearn, with derivations in Aragon, where they are prepared in the traditional kitchen with hard egg. You can guess in this latest version the Aragonese Hebrew culture -- Hebrews can't mix milk with meat from the Leviticus, but they can mix egg. In France, outside the Bearn, there is no croquette of that butter, flour and milk cream, the origin of which is in these border lands and which, then, the French culinary theory has called bechamel to award it the Galo mark. Croquette is made in the rest of France with potato puree.

The trout to the Navarra is marinated in good wine, red or white, with peppermint, pepper and vegetables and then scaled in its own adobo, although I would replace it with a new broth of the same ingredients. Its salsa, with some of the marinade broth and cooking, is mounted on soft fire with yolks, to serve it with steam potatoes. The trout filled with bacon and fried in lard is today the most common as in Navarra, but the first is much more refined. Chocolate partridge continues to be one of the best ways to cook this bird, except for the unsurpassed Toledo partridge pickle. The chops of lamb of the Latxa breed, the same of the Bearn as in Navarre and the Basque Country, that end in the oven after sofrits under a good tomato sauce scented with pepper and cinnamon, become Aragon a similar preparation with pork chops. The old recipes covered the preparation of thin slices of chorizo which, in fact, is advisable to eliminate. The yolks and yolks with which the sweetness of all the peninsular wine regions is adorned, the origin of which is one of the best kept secrets of the monastic workers, are the prize of the last dish of a good driving.



In this region presided over by the Ebro, the culinary tradition is based between Castile-Northeastern, Navarre and Aragon, through which the river runs before entering Catalan lands and through which dishes, ingredients and usances went and came.

The pisto a la riojana, which includes ham and sausages, so different from the traditional vegetable gardens of the southern plateau of Castile, is a good option to start a repairing agape of forces. Experts place the origin of the chicken pepitoria, the second dish proposed to the reader, in La Rioja, although it is true that the principle of such a hyphen must be found throughout southern Europe and from very old. Saffron, almonds, chicken ovary yolks and lemon juice that kill it also denote an obvious Spanish-Arab medieval air. Its name in Spanish (first appeared in 1591), should be detached from its composition, which was then, also in the Martinez Montiño recipe, a guise of bird spoils. According to the etymological dictionary of the Spanish language of Joan Corominas, pepitoria comes from the antiquated Frenchman, because it was and still is there a hyphen of wings, neck, stuffed or not, and dives of the goose. Ending with a Russian cake from Alfaro, which is somewhat similar to another made in southwestern France, on the Bearn -- again the Bearn in this gastronomic relationship -- is a wonderful sweet culmination. It is true that the Russian cake is somehow like another that is sold in the pastry shops of today’s Moscow, but this is not the space in which to determine whether its origin is Russian, as some French pastry shops maintain, so it will be better to summarize that Teruel capital, Alfaro, Bilbao and Oloron-Sainte-Marie, in the delicate Bearn, in the area that runs this Camino de Santiago. The merengue layers in Teruel bear some ground almond, as well as in the Bearn, while in Alfaro and Bilbao they presume not to add any of this dry fruit. The butter and egg cream, the antecedent of the modern butter cream of the classic pastry, in its different versions is of an unsurpassed refinement in these cakes which are already sweetened with solera in the south-west of France, in Rioja, Aragón and Vizcaya.



Snails to the Burgalese are an excellent start to the food of the pilgrims, who will also find them in similar preparations throughout various regions of the Camino. A few slices of rice cilla from Burgos fried with an egg too fried, even if it is already a classic, are difficult to reject, especially if you offer the walker accompanied by a crisp Aranda cake, that delicious Arandino bread. The cake will accompany in an excellent way a roast, classic of all these regions that Castilian. The lettuce salads of the banks of the Arlanza and the Arlanzón will serve to lighten such blunt dishes and give air to the pilgrim to finish the meal with a little pure Burgos cheese from sheep, if still found, one of the best among the frescoes of the peninsula when it is authentic. Some kingdoms, sweet and puff from the area, will know glory with some Aranda de Duero yolks.



Anyone who has not tasted through Palencia the dish that is called a vegetable menestra, but which is not actually a minestrone, rather a jumble of ingredients, cannot understand the delicacy of the cooking of this land. In Palencia it is a series of soft and fresh spring or summer vegetables cooked each on one side and gathered in the final dish on a base of sweet onion with some meat or ham. This elemental but refined cuisine astonished Dumas on his journey through the kitchens of Spain and that, it must be said, did not have a very positive image of our cuisine. The pichón until recently and from the time of the Romans was raised in the pigeons, buildings of beautiful architecture that between the triwales ensured a careful feeding of the young of the pigeon. Some palomares can be found in quite good condition even in the provinces of Palencia and Zamora, others in ruins. The stew pichón is an advisable snack if you have time and the occasion allows it. A sweet like the sky bacon in the style of the northern half vinatera of the peninsula, without caramel at the bottom of the mold. In the south vinatera half, especially in Seville and Cádiz, it always carries caramel at the bottom of the mold.



The first bite to make in León can be a very finely sliced cow cecine, exquisite, with some of the loaves in the region. The cecine, whose elaboration extends to neighboring Palencia, was made from old with pieces of mule meat or deer, rubbed with paprika when more east. But the slightly smoked cow as prepared in León is insurmountable.The Roman Army's Legio VII Gemina was established in the 1st century BC. C in the approximate area where León is today in a huge camp in order to protect the precious metal mines of the fourth northwest of the peninsula. The octopus, dry or fresh, poor food until recently, was one of the most appreciated products of the sea by the soldiers of these camps, so it has remained like a traditional dish of Mansilla de las Mules and of the city of León itself. To follow, a good cachelada, prepared of potatoes with chorizo, which, if it is from León and spicy, to speak, is a succulent and delicious dish with which one remains as the boy of the scavenger, says Dionisio Pérez, post Thebussem in his Guide to Good Spanish Eating, a phrase that does not need many explanations. Not only in La Rioja the potatoes with chorizo have a good interpretation. Better than between stage and stage there is time to do well digestion. A little later the pilgrim is offered some of the delicious empanadas of puff dough of El Bierzo, the batallón empanadas of the beginning of the twentieth century, filled with meats and extraordinary Bertian sausage. The trout is found in its most rustic leonese preparation, not negligible, filled with a pointed pella, the flower of the lard of salty, cured and, later in the season, a bit rancid, and cooked on the grill fire. You will also find the fans of the good table excellent pen and hair hunting preparations and ... the cooked maragate. No more needs to be said. As a snack or as a dessert, a cake of trout, yes of trout, creation of grandfather Nicanor of the present pastry shops, as of the Nicanores de Boñar, is no more. It is delicious, pastry and sweet which, although surprising, makes it even more delicious. The Astorga mantecadas, refined and exquisite butter bollo will also sweeten breakfasts and snacks, much better if accompanied by imperial figs of León in syrup.



To celebrate the entrance to Galicia through O Cebreiro, nothing better than trying some Cebreiro cheese, cow's milk. It is one of the oldest cheeses in the north of the Iberian peninsula, of lactic fermentation, a bit acidic, buttery. A delight with a little of a good Galician bolla. Continuing with a good St. Simon cheese tart, smoked, delicious, will be an infinite pleasure. A cod to the garlic, which when the salsa -- unpeeled garlic and onion in rooms, preserved in good olive oil with some pepper balls for hours and at very low temperature, which ends with a little paprika, before colting it -- is well prepared and with a quality paprika, is an undisputed refinement, despite all that Alejandro Dumas said about garlic and the Spanish cuisine. In season, some sardines with oil and a touch of vinegar, a delight. The Perdiz pickle also has an excellent interpretation in Lugo, because in Galicia hunting has always been a major activity. The sweets with almonds so widespread on the peninsula, also in Portugal, have extraordinary examples in Galicia, which shows that this fruit and sugar were always united, together with the egg yolk, in the preaching celebrations and celebrations. Today almonds are produced in Galicia, of the best variety, the Spanish marcone, so there can be no lack of some almond cake in the pilgrim's backpack, or in his mouth.



It is possible that on the Camino the pilgrim can try a empanada of the rabbit of Betanzos, like the one that defines with erudition Álvaro Cunquiero in Voyage through the mountains and fireplaces of Galicia. Galician hunting and cooking, written together with José María Castroviejo. Thin and smooth dough is filled with rabbit, which in the fields of rosemary, thyme and chamomile sweet quiet pasta these essences, which then grants in the empanada the white bread. More empanadas, wheat dough, in general pork loin, and corn dough, berber, scallops, sardines or xoubas will find the traveler who will delight. You should not stop visiting the old refectory of the Xelmírez Palace, in the Obradoiro square itself. In some of the pillars of this old dining room you will see that the empanadas gallegas were already food of lords and bishops in the 12th century.Not to mention the amount of amazing seafood you find on the coast -- scallops, sentinels, mussels, crazy. On arrival in Santiago, and if you do not intend to reach Finisterre, the walker can be dedicated without charge to good food and good life. Start with some steamed mussels and a bit of freshly cooked octopus to feira, with your peppers, your paprika and your olive oil spray. Nothing better. Ending with a cake from Santiago and some other sweet, such as fried cream canes from the towns of the province can be the best.

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