At a guess, I'm thinking most of the "strangeness" listed here is coming from the largely North American experience of eating boxed, packaged, sanitised food. Only the "large cuts" of meats. Limited legumes and vegetables. Limited ways of preparing and eating them.
"Nose to tail" is not strange or weird to cultures where few people have access to the "prime cuts", where factory farming and monocultures of cereals are not the norm. Making use of everything in the larder on the Thursday to make a "coddle" before meatless Fridays might require a melange of pork and fish that people find "strange" but which is very ordinary to most Irish families...
What would happen if we reframed this conversation as "What foods have you encountered on Caminos that were new and seem very uniquely of Iberia?"
Very pretty pinxtos that are gone in two bites?
Poached eggs with arugulas?
What about the surprise of extremely bland foods that have none of the thyme, rosemary or other herbs that line the trails we walk? How to account for that?
How interesting that the ubiquitous anise/fennel that scents the morning air appears almost exclusively as tea and not as a menu item per se?
What if we were curious instead of cranky in our approach to the wonderful cultures of food and the generosity that is communicated in the simplest of peppers stuffed with salt cod, or blood sausage and potato?
Forgive me, but I am a little saddened when I see a region's food culture dismissed as "icky" -- for foods and cultures and peoples are tied to each other. Food is among the most intimate ways to communicate belonging and welcome, ritual and context. TO call it "icky" or "yucky" is not far off from berating the people who eat those foods.
So... what have you encountered that you had never had before, but found wonderfully or simply delicious? What of a place that hybridised its food to communicate the presence of all the people who had been there? Salt cod, for example, likely descended into Iberia from Northern European travellers, Dutch colonisers... Chocolate obviously comes from South America... Almonds arrive via Muslim colonisers... Oranges arrive from the East as well...
Cocido Maragato arises in a specific group for whom seafoods were unattainable, reserved to be delivered to their "betters"... Somewhere I read recently that the little cakes made in Astoria are an adaptation from Muslim traditions as well...
What a fascinating, fascinating melange...
Ooh, such a generalization to lead off an otherwise interesting piece of writing, and one with which I generally agree. I don’t know where you hail from Parambulating Griffin, but there are many of us North Americans (from Canada, the United States of America and the United States of México) whose diet is not based on “boxed, packaged and sanitized food”, hugemongous
slabs of beef and pork, a dearth of fruits and veggies and few ways to prepare and consume them .
I’ve lived in México, the northernmost part of the historical and cultural area known as Mesoamerica,
for close to thirty years. When I first moved there, just south of Mexico City, I dove head first into the pool of local culinary traditions, and it is one big pool, brah, and I’m still swimming in it. I have never shied away from trying the, oh, let’s call them “exotic” foods. Por lo contrario; a hot bowl of menudo
with all the “fixins”? Perfect on that cold winter morning out en el rancho or for that hangover on New Year’s Day; freshly caught iguana en salsa verde
, with a side of arroz y frijoles de olla?
¡Por favor! Tacos de cabeza y lengua (
beef cheeks and tongue), de pastor con piña asada
(sliced spit grilled pork with pineapple) or carne asada con tripa bien crujiente
(grilled beef with crunchy tripe pieces)? Bring me one of each to start! Now I live a stone’s throw from the Mar de Cortés, so I haven’t even started on the delicias
from the sea or our abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. But, enough. I’ve gone and made myself hungry🤤. I think I have some fried and salted crickets or grasshoppers somewhere. How ‘bout some pigs’ feet in escabeche and a cold Pacífico🍺? And for dessert? A sweet treat that actually originated in Mesoamérica…chocolate.
I look forward to trying some of those foods you mentioned and many more when I get on my camino. I promise not to shy away from the different, the strange and the weird. Besides, weird is good. Buen camino, brah🤙🏽