Two summers ago I was blessed with the opportunity to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain as a part of a summer abroad architecture course. The Camino de Santiago is a Catholic pilgrimage across Europe to visit the supposed relics of Saint James (known as Santiago in Spain) in Santiago, Spain. Though my classmates and I were doing the pilgrimage for academic purposes (spatial writing, documentation, etc), and most of us were not Catholic, the journey still became a spiritual venture for me – I connect with God through nature, spend 5+ weeks walking over 550 miles and it was inevitable for me to not feel God’s presence.
Expressing my experiences is truly indescribable. Every morning, amidst a mountainous setting, I saw the sun break the horizon. I walked across mountain ranges, through forests, rural villages, populous and infamous cities, and many vineyards. I grew accustom to a simple lifestyle of having everything I needed on my back.
Part of the class’ goals was a break from technology. While on the trail, we were not allowed to listen to ipods or use technology. We were only allowed to take one photo per day while on the trail. It was a liberation from technology, forcing me to observe the world around me at a new level. I can recall the smell of the earth, the various forms the trail took (from paved, to dirt paths, to cobblestones, to jagged rocks, and steep cliffs). Many part of the journey transported me to a fairytale land, one forest featured trees that literally looked like Ents from Lord of the Rings. My imagination ran rampant and my thoughts ebbed from past memories, the present, to daydreams, and hopes for the future.
I also learned to appreciate the art of cooking while doing the Camino de Santiago. Though the food was often amazing, many of the places offered the same menus. Cooking was also a great way to save a few euros. Every hostel had at least a minimal kitchen featuring a stovetop, pans, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. A few of my peers were gifting in the art of cooking. Watching them throw a few fresh ingredients together,transforming the ingredients into a tasty meal, inspired me to overcome my fears of attempting cooking.
Before Spain, I could hardly make a meal beyond cous-cous with a vegetable stirfry. Since Spain, I have been extremely venturesome, attempting a few new recipes a week. The kitchen successes outweigh the failures, encouraging to a cooking novice. Though many turn out edible and tasty, the presentation is often the more lacking category.
The journey took my classmates and I through many regions, towns, and cities. My palate was exposed to Spanish foods and beverages. Every town’s bar featured a espresso machine. After approximately two hours of walking, I fell into the routine of ordering a cafe con leche as a part of my morning break and breakfast. I fell in love with sipping the cafe con leche, often consuming a few a day at the price of 1.5-2 euros a piece.
While enjoying my cafe con leche, I liked sampling local cuisine. Not only were all the bars equipped with espresso machines, even in the smallest towns with a population of less than 80, many served breakfast/lunch foods before the evening tapas. Besides pastries, most bars featured bocadillos and espanola tortillas.
The Spanish Tortilla is simply a combination of eggs, potatoes, and onion. Variations include the addition of ingredients like green peppers, chorizo, or ham. In honor of my Spanish ventures, I decided to venture making a Spanish Tortilla. Despite struggling with keeping the form intact, the flavor and texture were pleasing.
Spanish Tortilla (Potato-Onion Omelet)Original Recipe from Anja’s Food 4 Thought
- 5 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced to almond size chunks
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper
- oregano and dill, optional
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and onions, frying until done, approximately 8-10 minutes. The potatoes will start browning. Season with salt in the pan.
While the potatoes and onions are cooking, beat eggs in a separate bowl.
Once potatoes and onions are done, reduce the heat to low and pour eggs over the potatoes-onions, moving the pan a little to make sure the egg covers everything. Let egg set for 5-8 minutes.
Switch off heat, transfer tortilla to a plate. Flip with other plate. Slide back onto the warm pan (but off), and allow for sit for another 2-4 minutes.
Slice and serve immediately.
I served mine with a spinach-tomato-green onion salad, dressed in balsamic vinegar. I sprinkled some black pepper, dill, and oregano over my slice of tortilla. The sharp flavors of the green onion and balsamic vinegar paired well with the simple taste of the tortilla. The extra seasonings brought the experience to another level.
After I ate the tortilla, I naturally had to prepare and enjoy a large cup of cafe con leche.