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Friday, 31 October 2014

The Camino Made Me Eat That... - Page 2

Written by Michelle Smith
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Ah, pilgrim life!  Food itself isn't hard to come by. Actually, eating is quite easy.  Eating 'healthy' is not!  Vegetables are scarce and usually expensive. Fruit is fairly available but not always ripe.  Bread is abundant and very light. So are cookies.  Then comes the question of weight. Carrying food around all day is heavy on your back when every pound counts...and believe me, it does!  So, you judge your food options by weight, how well it packs and the distance between villages.  Supermarkets are also very few and far between. Small villages often only have very basic convenience stores.

Did I mention that most of us leave before 7 am? Not a whole lot open then.

What to do? What to do?

Some towns will have at least one cafe that is open at 6 am. They will most likely offer a 'desayuno' for a few euros which consist of a piece of toast, jam and a coffee.  I don't know about you but for me, a piece of toast doesn't do it. I am starving 20 minutes later, guaranteed.  Sometimes you get lucky and they have tortilla espana, which are a cross between an omelette and a quiche. Great breakfast food but in high demand, they go quickly.  More often than not though, there will be nothing open at 6:30 am. Usually, in this case the albergue (pilgrim hostels) will provide you a 'breakfast' or at least direct you to a vending machine.

Instant coffee.


Or cookies.

For breakfast.

No joke.

I cannot count how many albergue breakfasts I have consumed that have consisted of digestive cookies and instant coffee.  Now this is where that Vancouver snob tries to poke her snobby head back in.  Yes, that's a pretty awful breakfast, but it's the food that has been provided.  Eat it!  

The nice people who care for pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago are more than happy to provide food for us. I am sure that when you are trying to feed hundreds of hungry pilgrims, doing so cost effectively is a major concern. Bread is the cheapest thing you can buy here and digestive cookies, apparently.

The food I carry with me is the lightest I can find. Usually bread or crackers, some sliced ham and cheese. One piece of fruit, if I am lucky. I tried to carry around cucumber and canned tuna but it got heavy real fast.  When there is a supermarket though, it's veggie binge city!!! The selection isn't great but they usually have pre-cooked beets, salad mix and cucumbers. Done, that’s good enough for me!!

What I have learned from this experience is that judging people based on their food choices is unfair and unnecessary. Sometimes, there are simply no other options and you are in no place to refuse anything that is put in front of you. Walking across Spain, spending as little money as possible to see this has certainly put that into perspective. I think back to my Vancouver diet and I am amazed that I am even lucky enough to live in a city that has so much good food readily available. There are not many places on the planet that allow for such lavish eating habits. I count myself grateful.  And if someone has the charity and compassion to feed you, you eat it. You don't complain about it or decline. They are offering you a gift and your gift back to them is to receive it. Plain and simple.

So when all you can get is cookies for breakfast, you eat them and be happy you got to eat at all!

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Friday, 31 October 2014

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