Gastronomy in Santiago de Compostela

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Well, gastronomy from my perspective…!

So many choices, so little time…. Last night it became apparent around 10:00 pm that “the group” was going to dine late (much later). I noshed on a delicious chunk of pan (bread) I had purchased earlier. It was spread with peanut butter from a packet I had been carrying the whole Camino. And accompanied by some vino blanco from a box. Not the Foodie Choice of champions but massively enjoyed by me none the less! Loco, I know!

Today – Sunday…. All others slept in. I did, too – for me that was 7 am. I went out to the living room of our Airbnb to catch up on some reading and found that Antonio, the adopted Portuguese perigrino of our other Wayfinding Academy group, was sleeping on the couch. SMH (shaking my head)! So I sat at the dining room table for nearly two hours to reconnect before a handful of people were up and I decided to head to town. I wanted to see if I had my bearings straight from past visits. I managed to make my way to the big central market, and felt really good about that. Of course since it’s Sunday it was not open, but I was happy to find it nonetheless! I confirmed a few more landmarks, and also stumbled upon a café that was open. The plan was to meet the rest of my contingent at the Cathedral at 10:30 am. So at 9 am I had time for a couple of Café con Leche grandes and pan y tomate. Yum!!

These folk were keeping me company!

Then it was into the surpentine, Certified LOCO line at da Catedral for noon mass. We learned that the swinging of the botafumiero was to occur today at this mass and at 7:30 pm (an ancient and humongous incense burner operated by six men pulling extremely large ropes so that it swings across the sanctuary). I guess everyone else heard, too… We were maybe 45 people from the door, when the situation became standing room only inside, and they would not allow anyone else in because of Covid protocol. Shucks.

We splintered off with plans to meet again and I decided with the crowds and the heat, that my best approach would be to just hang out locally all day…

First up I hit the Parador again – because they recognize my device for Internet, and because I’m familiar with it. I had a glass of Albariño and some snackies (olives and nuts) that came along with it. The incredible furniture and art pieces within, and the stories they tell continue to arouse and awe me!

Santiago’s Parador, Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos:! “Once upon a time, this structure was a pilgrim hospital, founded by Ferdinand and Isabella. Although there is much to see and do in Santiago, many pilgrims are drawn back to the Plaza del Obradoiro many times, reliving the moment of arrival as new waves of pigrims surge in front of the cathedral and reuniting with many friends from the walk. For those having walked the Northern Caminos it can be more than a little overwhelming, encountering so many other pilgrims. But it is a powerful reminder of the larger community to which you all now belong, pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, owners of the Compostela.” (From the Northern Caminos guidebook).

Then I sought out the place adjacent to the (closed on Sunday) Mercado that had the percebes (barnacles) I love so much and couldn’t wait to have again.. They were closed.

I happened into a wonderful bar, called Taverna do Tarela. Such a great atmosphere, wonderful service, and the food was amazing!! I ordered pulpo, (octopus) more than I could eat, especially with the little rice and sausage/bread tapas served with my vino, but I did take some para llever (to go). Even upon deciding that, the gentleman I was speaking with next to me who is from Chihuahua, Mexico, told me that I really needed to try the zamboriñas. So I did!! Man OH Man!!! So happy that I did!! They were AMAZING!! Scallops with garlic butter – YuUUUMmm!!! It was not as inexpensive as most of the food I have enjoyed when on Camino, yet worth Every Penny!!

There were several pastry shops open and I hit up one that had a Strong Mujeres (Woman) vibe! One of the items I chose inspired an admonishment of No Sugar, No Sugar and I sincerely responded, “Si!!”

Since we only have two keys for our tenement Airbnb and I didn’t have one, nor do I have data to contact a cohort via WhatsApp, I sat on the curb for a bit, post lunch. Luckily it wasn’t too long before I was rescued.

There was an afternoon of recharging spirits and cell phones and then we made our way back to Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. The sun was higher in the sky, and the temperature toasty, however the line was not nearly as long as earlier today at two hours pre mass. I enjoyed a great chat with two brothers, Marco and Victor from Mexico City, who were behind me in the queue. They were enroute to A Caruña to get their grand father’s birth certificate. Mexico City sounds worthy of a visit – I’ve got to get to that city!!!

I snagged a seat in the rear as it was evident they were going fast. Even though I was last in line of our 13, I found out in a bit when one of our leaders came over that none of them got seats. I offered mine up yet didn’t get any takers. It was another hour plus wait for the service to start and the program itself, in Spanish and Latin, was an hour as well, including communion. To be fair, there was a pilgrim blessing in English near the end – but mostly I conjured my own reverence and connection to God, lifting prayers and praise up in my own little space. I did hum to the songs as they were fairly predictable. A big disappointment, no swinging of the botafumeiro.

Another big disappointment, turns out the rest of the group was not allowed to stay since they didn’t have seats! Additionally, a big bummer for me was that no one communicated this fact to me or how I might potentially meet up with someone who had a key to get back into our in-building apartment! Not the end of the world but a bit disconcerting. For the second time today I only had to wait a short while out on the sidewalk before a key holder appeared.

It’s crazy how many pilgrims and tourists are in this town!!!

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