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Strangest food & drink on the Camino

I grew up on an ocean coast... love all things seafood, but I admit I lack the patience for skate-wing... or at least I lack the patience on camino. Too starving... It's tasty enough, but I've wept over needing to pull the meat from the bones... just too tired. I admire those who can manage under those circumstances (or maybe they are walking shorter days in better weather... I won't ever try it again after 30+ km heading into some stretch between Estella and Burgos...).

Interesting side-note from public health, Heimlich training for restuarant servers: men typically choke on steak; women typically choke on fish bones. What to make of that? whatever you want I guess, but it's why I avoid things that try my patience when I am tired. I don't want to be among the "choked on a fishbone" crowd. (It is counter intuitive to me given the reputation for women and fine motor skills etc, but it is well known in restaurants and in ER/ED triage settings).
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
What?
Women customers should be treated differently for some reason? Really, what reason??

Sorry - I am of a bit old school and to me doing so for a lady is to show her 'respect' not to imply that she is not capable. Same thing as pulling the chair out for her or standing up when one leaves the table.
Just the way I feel - no disrespect intended.

AH... and then there is the post from @Perambulating Griffin :)
 
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Getting a little off topic, but most people who choke to death in restaurants do so alone in the toilet, (or bathroom if you are American). Being initially embarrassed and not wanting to draw attention which is exactly what they need at that moment, they hurry out in an attempt to deal with it alone. Universal sign you are choking is to cross your hands to your throat to  get attention. Something worth remembering, it could save your life one day..
 
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I grew up on an ocean coast... love all things seafood, but I admit I lack the patience for skate-wing... or at least I lack the patience on camino. Too starving... It's tasty enough, but I've wept over needing to pull the meat from the bones... just too tired. I admire those who can manage under those circumstances (or maybe they are walking shorter days in better weather... I won't ever try it again after 30+ km heading into some stretch between Estella and Burgos...).

Interesting side-note from public health, Heimlich training for restuarant servers: men typically choke on steak; women typically choke on fish bones. What to make of that? whatever you want I guess, but it's why I avoid things that try my patience when I am tired. I don't want to be among the "choked on a fishbone" crowd. (It is counter intuitive to me given the reputation for women and fine motor skills etc, but it is well known in restaurants and in ER/ED triage settings).

I tend to avoid Skate wings because it’s so difficult to get really fresh ones.
That smell of ammonia when they’re a bit past it is vile 🤢
 
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Skate don't have any bones.
Whatever... the annoying ridges from which one must pull the flesh when one is too tired to deal. I've had the very thing that was posted as a photo and been left with the thing only half-eaten because it was too tiring to keep pulling the flesh out when all I wanted was a proper bite of something. Cartilage, bones... immaterial... annoyance at faffing around while exhausted.... ugh.
I save any elaborate seafood for the end of the trip, when well-rested.
 
I tend to avoid Skate wings because it’s so difficult to get really fresh ones.
That smell of ammonia when they’re a bit past it is vile 🤢
Oh! I've not encountered that... but one can run into it with badly stored camembert too. And what did I have recently at home that I had purchased... it was some kind of shellfish... and I know that smell that you mean... I looked it up and the food safety advice was "do not eat"....
 
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Depends, some people would use their hands, others a fork or a twig off a lemon tree. The traditional picture is to sit and eat/drink under the shade of a giant lemon tree with puha (a type of water cress), boiled kumara (sweet potato) and a 2.26ltr (half imperial gallon) container of warmish beer on a hot Sunday afternoon with friends.

Inevitably one or more of your friends will bring along a wooden crate containing 12 1.137 litre bottles of "red" beer, the crates are useful for sitting on.

Attire would be black singlets and "stubbies", see video

If you want to read about it then see https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36407261-the-half-gallon-jar
Sounds like a good ol’ time. I have to agree with henrythedog; NZ sounds 🤙🏽
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
I don't remember where it was (probably blocked it out of my memory), but I ordered what was listed as a local food delicacy. There were three courses. The soup was a typical vegetable soup. The main course was composed of the parts of cows and sheep that were all gristle, bone, fat, and meat by the broadest definition possible. The good news was that they gave you an enormous portion. Desert, by my memory, was ok. Someone else might remember where. I think it might have been Ponferrada or that region.
I had something similar in ~Villa Franca it tasted like chorizo but it was a nasty knarly set of bones and the source was unidenifieable. I asked but could not understand the response. They were probably laugung in the kitchen.
 
Maybe not so strange, but new to me was a queimada. The hospis made after curfew one night somewhere on the Portguese and asked everyone not a sleep to join in. It was a cool nighttime ritual ... laddling the hot mix on fire and saying whatever your chose to share with the group.
 
In our hotel in Santiago I ordered some orejas de cerdo, a Spanish delicacy. I normally translate the menu, but not this time. The picture looked good enough. I was served up a plate of pigs ears. I tried a good few before I was put off by the hairy ears. 😂😂
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Thirty years ago, unsure what I was ordering, I got the same type of food. But mine was a sausage served on a baguette. It smelled great. I took one bite and was horrified to see inside, the rolled up pigs ears. These had been shaved, but not closely; looked like my stubble after not shaving for 5 days. I did eat the bread part.
 
Thirty years ago, unsure what I was ordering, I got the same type of food. But mine was a sausage served on a baguette. It smelled great. I took one bite and was horrified to see inside, the rolled up pigs ears. These had been shaved, but not closely; looked like my stubble after not shaving for 5 days. I did eat the bread part.
Where I worked for over 20 years… let’s just put it broadly in the mid-west of North America, it’s less the ears and more the tails that people like to eat. I think they are deep fried? And people crunch on them. There is also white sausage… which I can consume with mustard if I don’t think about it too much.
When I was a child, when money was tight we would either eat fried smelt or boiled pig’s feet. Both were a LOT of work and tried my patience.
When I lived on the coast, crab was plentiful as were prawns but we trapped them ourselves, and I caught my only harbour seal by accident when I was 4 and had dropped a line for salmon. I know someone from home who won’t eat crab because “it’s for poor people”, and isn’t fond of fish because her father worked on the ships, monitoring the freezers he had invented for flash-freezing and would come home smelling of fish.
I was in my 30’s before I ate a gorgeous grilled sardine that topped a salad Niçoise had in a lovely spot near the Champs-de-Mars and recommended to me by my companion who was himself from Nice. Prior to that, the sardines I had encountered always came from tins…
Quality, context, texture… and now I’m thinking “Ugh. Tapioca pudding. Food for when I had mumps. Please never again.” But plenty of people my age and above love it. I love bread pudding but I’ve met people who won’t eat it because it’s “depression food.”
I love a caldo; my mother thinks it is slimy. The French do like to eat the green centre of les hommards, but I give mine to the cat.
 
You are making me hungry. Now I need to do something with the 48 eggs, all less than a week old, sitting on my kitchen counter. One day of sun and the hens have gone into overdrive. I don't want another omelette, coddled egg, boiled egg, poached egg, fried egg sandwich, quiche or scrambled egg. I don't make cakes and all my neighbours have the same problem.
At least the goose is sitting on her eggs so I don't need to eat them. Help 😲!
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
One of the times I stayed in Ages on the Frances the locals that night were having a street party of sorts and invited the pilgrims in the albergue to join. They had grills going outside and a lot of local food including pig's ears and snouts I believe, scalded and scraped of course. Maybe even crackling, too. Not unusual culinary item where I grew up and I happily munched away on some with my cold beer. A few of the other pilgrims looked a bit mortified at the prospect of eating them lol. 😀
 
You are making me hungry. Now I need to do something with the 48 eggs, all less than a week old, sitting on my kitchen counter. One day of sun and the hens have gone into overdrive. I don't want another omelette, coddled egg, boiled egg, poached egg, fried egg sandwich, quiche or scrambled egg. I don't make cakes and all my neighbours have the same problem.
At least the goose is sitting on her eggs so I don't need to eat them. Help 😲!
Try making Lemon Curd , I make a batch that needs 12 eggs and 6 lemons , you bottle it and keep in the back of fridge for months. Great on cake , toast or ice cream
 
You are making me hungry. Now I need to do something with the 48 eggs, all less than a week old, sitting on my kitchen counter. One day of sun and the hens have gone into overdrive. I don't want another omelette, coddled egg, boiled egg, poached egg, fried egg sandwich, quiche or scrambled egg. I don't make cakes and all my neighbours have the same problem.
At least the goose is sitting on her eggs so I don't need to eat them. Help 😲!
Bread pudding? Flan? Blancmange? Eggnog? Crème-Anglaise over French toast?
 
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Try making Lemon Curd , I make a batch that needs 12 eggs and 6 lemons , you bottle it and keep in the back of fridge for months. Great on cake , toast or ice cream
Ooooh! Excellent idea! Can be done with lime, oranges or grapefruit as well! I forgot these in my list of custardy things…
 
I love fish, but after several tries ordering it on the Camino I stopped because it was always served whole with the bones still in🙄(photo). In the US mine is always served filleted and no worry about choking on a tiny bone. I'm sure higher end restaurants serve fish without bones. My yummy alternative choice often times was calamari/chiperones, especially the little ones. They could be ordered fried or in various sauces.View attachment 143117
I completely agree with you.

All Mediterranian countries seem to have a taste for whole fish, boiled or fried, incl. their heads. I find it disgusting (a cultural thing for me): I live in a part of the world (Arctic Norway) where fish of many species are plentiful. Some I catch myself, some I get from friends. I seldom buy fish. But I prefer it made into skin- and bonefree (especially) fillets. I do not order fish in Spain bc of this. But fried calamari, and pulpo, are always welcome.

I always make my own fillets. Sometimes, it can take a while. (Halibut, 120 kgs/250 lb., 2.1 m/7 ft.):

Kveite120kg.jpg
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Lemon curd! Yes! The absolute winner.
Thank you!
 
Ensaladilla rusa, “Russian salad”

Perhaps not too odd aside from 1) the mysterious name, 2) how something tinned in a can tastes SO wonderful, and 3) why a dish created by a Belgian chef for the Hermitage in Moscow became such a favorite in Spain. It’s basically a creamy tuna salad with vegetables in mayo. The simplicity and low cost are deceptive – the mouthfeel is rich and full of umami, like a fine Italian tonnato sauce. You might be able to find it in small grocers along the Camino Frances next to anchovies, pulpo, and other canned fish, but I’ve struck out on my last attempts. Too bad, I would happily eat it every day if I could. :)

View attachment 143014

What brand is this can? I want to get some when I go to spain, it sounds fun
 
There is very little we won't at least try. The Pig and Beef Cheeks are incredible. Someone mentioned Ox tail...don't understand not enjoying that. Percebes are wonderful. We're fortunate enough to have a town butcher that we can enjoy a lot of the same foods although not the same quality but organic in town. We are not crazy about the baby eels... But we tried them.
You have to try everything at least once
Herself thought of couple others, we've enjoyed Offal in Spain and here in Virginia.Offal When she mentioned Morros, I remember being very grossed out but they weren't terrible.
 
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Ensaladilla rusa, “Russian salad”

…. It’s basically a creamy tuna salad with vegetables in mayo.
I never tried it, because I didn't like a completely different thing by that name in Perú!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
In our hotel in Santiago I ordered some orejas de cerdo, a Spanish delicacy. I normally translate the menu, but not this time. The picture looked good enough. I was served up a plate of pigs ears. I tried a good few before I was put off by the hairy ears. 😂😂
We had pig’s ear as an appetizer with a glass of wine.
 
Glochids. Sometimes pouring peroxide over the area helps.
Couldn’t remember the name for the bumps where the spines grow. Burn off as much of the spines as you can and then scrape the bumps off. Living in Tucson one learns these things, but still not a fan of sliced cactus.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Sounds like a good ol’ time. I have to agree with henrythedog; NZ sounds 🤙🏽
Someone mentioned eels, I have vivid memories of walking along the edge of the Wanganui river as a kid with a gaff in my right hand and feeling for eels under the bank with my left hand. Once you touched an eel it would take off and so you had to be constantly ready with the gaff. I had to quickly gaff the eel while missing my legs and left hand and in one motion toss the eel up onto the river bank.

On land we dispatched the eel and threaded them onto baling twine through the gills.

The eels were very slimy at that stage but after washing and gutting and fried lightly in butter with a dash of lemon there was nothing nicer.
 
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Someone mentioned eels, I have vivid memories of walking along the edge of the Wanganui river as a kid with a gaff in my right hand and feeling for eels under the bank with my left hand. Once you touched an eel it would take off and so you had to be constantly ready with the gaff. I had to quickly gaff the eel while missing my legs and left hand and in one motion toss the eel up onto the river bank.

On land we dispatched the eel and threaded them onto baling twine through the gills.

The eels were very slimy at that stage but after washing and gutting and fried lightly in butter with a dash of lemon there was nothing nicer.
I am not a rich man, but thankfully, I have never fallen into the abyss of having to eat eels...
 
I had to google. That is just plain awful!😝
View attachment 143209

I agree...me too!

The first time I as served smoked (?) lampreys on crackers in Latvia I thought the fish had gone off but was too embarrassed to say anything to my host. I found out a bit later that day that this is how they taste and are considered a delicacy.
To each his own.
 
As a child my son thought all veggies were 'disgusting'. In his book 'delicious' was McDonalds.😅

I agree! It's so disgusting I never even tried it😂; looks like it washed up on a beach.🤣
No. delicious smothered in homemade mayo. Mayonaise comes from Mahón, capital of Menora, something about the French occupying it in the Napoleonic wars
 
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Barbara, was going to suggest lemon butter as well. You can also freeze egg whites for making pavlova/meringue - I often have some in the freezer left over from making egg custard or icecream.
 
What brand is this can? I want to get some when I go to spain, it sounds fun
Sorry ilbestro, I don't remember the brand and did not take a photo of the label. If you cannot find it in a can, MilenaS mentioned finding Ensalada Rusa in a box (non-refrigerated). Good luck, I am sure whatever brand you find will be tasty :)
 
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Sorry ilbestro, I don't remember the brand and did not take a photo of the label. If you cannot find it in a can, MilenaS mentioned finding Ensalada Rusa in a box (non-refrigerated). Good luck, I am sure whatever brand you find will be tasty :)

@ilbestro12 I do not remember the brand either. But it was a plastic container with a paper packaging around. Hope you find something similar.
 
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Well my oddest was on the Portuguese. It was rabbit stew, but all the heads were in the stew with their tiny white teeth intact and contrasted the brown stew. 😱
My second oddest, once again in Portugal, was the giant, gooey, Francesinha sandwich, already discussed recently on another thread.
It s normal in a restaurant which cooks rabbit to put the head then it is the proof that it is not a cat!
 
I am not totally sure how did the "Spanish" ensalada rusa got tuna in it but as a former USSR citizen I can assure you that it is nowhere to be found in any "Slavic" (Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian) kitchen.
For some reasonably comprehensive history on the dish you can go here Oliv'ye Salad (and i spelled it with the proper if you will Russian pronunciation). We always joke that "it has nothing to do with Sir Larry". For some of my American friends I introduce it as "a Russian version of German potato salad" with an explanation that there are definite differences but it gave them an idea as to what to expect.
The Wiki article pretty much nails the base ingredients pat. My family favors finely chopped boiled potatoes, pickles (dills, gherkins, anything of a type), boiled green peas and very thinly sliced white onions. Depending who the chef is\was (i.e. my Grandmother, Mom, Stepmom, sister-in-Law, aut, etc.) the dish would vary with perhaps an addition of celery and then I've had chicken, ham or hot dog as a 'meat'. Hard-boiled egg can be, and also sometimes was, added to it - again based on chef it could've been sliced, simply cut in-half or make up a bit of a fancy "rose" bowl as a decoration piece (but in all cases perfectly edible). Carrots can also be finely chopped or shredded....
It is never served as a main dish but rather in conjunction of something akin to Antipasti - to start the party off and (needless to say) goes well with vodka (or any other libation of your choice)

In any case - no tuna although I do understand that it "is" a thing in some Western European Countries Spain included.

My "cooking rant" hence concluded, the strangest things I've encountered on my Camino were red peppers stuffed with seafood (not too sure what exactly was there) and raja
While I definitely did not spit, got nauseous, or grossed out by either - chances are I probably wont order these dishes next time around.
The salad oliv’eye is named after Napoleon s cook Mr Olivier who somehow introduced this dish in Russia during the Napoleonic campaigns I was told that by Russian friends and sure it is very popular and delicious in every Russian home
 
I should probably stay out of this interesting and educational discussion... I've enjoyed it and am not writing to chide or judge...

However, I find it strange to see people equating "eating like the locals" with eating animal parts that in many places and times were/are "because you were poor and had to eat what you got and not waste anything" (nose to tail) which are now delicacies, and which are, compared to the rest of the animal, rare/special.

Cows have one tongue, and a whole lotta other meat. Pigs have two ears, four feet, and... a whole lotta other meat. Ox have one tail... and a whole lotta other meat.

It perhaps used to be the case that rich people ate the prime cuts and the rest of us got the grisly bits. Now... these are the luxury items and eating them doesn't signify frugality or poverty, but rather the opposite. Then again for many of us now, and perhaps throughout history, walking the Camino is a fabulous luxury (an indulgence) unavailable and unaffordable to most of the world's population, so eating these now-again-exotic foods as pilgrim fare is fitting...

Eating the rarebits (ahem) used to be luxurious in Roman times, too, but are probably no longer available even for those on the Via Francigena.

[Brian at a gladiator match in "Life of Brian": "Larks' tongues. Wrens' livers. Chaffinch brains. Jaguars' earlobes. Wolf nipple chips. Get 'em while they're hot. They're lovely. Dromedary pretzels, only half a denar. Tuscany fried bats."]


My last housemate was a Food Anthropologist. This has become a popular field of study in recent years!
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
On a hot day after “windmill hill”( west of Pamplona) I was sitting in a bar sipping a cold water, when a young perigrina advised a new cooler. She said “you can order a hot tea in a glass and a bowl of ice. Next add some sugar and add the ice , it’s very refreshing” I smiled and we have something similar at home in North Carolina .
Pig ears and intestines, Portuguese route.
 
Ensaladilla rusa, “Russian salad”

Perhaps not too odd aside from 1) the mysterious name, 2) how something tinned in a can tastes SO wonderful, and 3) why a dish created by a Belgian chef for the Hermitage in Moscow became such a favorite in Spain. It’s basically a creamy tuna salad with vegetables in mayo. The simplicity and low cost are deceptive – the mouthfeel is rich and full of umami, like a fine Italian tonnato sauce. You might be able to find it in small grocers along the Camino Frances next to anchovies, pulpo, and other canned fish, but I’ve struck out on my last attempts. Too bad, I would happily eat it every day if I could. :)

View attachment 143014
I remember eating this all the time when I was living in Madrid, some 30 years ago - but never out of a can!
 
Henry I, king of England died from eating too many lamprey!

It was much preferable to the way that Edward ll met his end.

Overindulgence on lampreys vs. a hot poker. No doubt about it.😬

Slight Historical Detour -
Perhaps.... but what a turmoil befalls England after Henry's death. "The time when Christ and His Saints Slept" as it was dubbed in some historic (and literary) circles...
And what a turn the history takes from here.....

(Back to the strange foods... For whatever reason the smoked\grilled lampreys are one of my mom's faves. I believe I tried them once and have been politely declining any offers ever since )
 
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This was before my first Camino on a trip to Barcelona - I was intrigued by a dish called Macedonia on the postre part of the menú del día. I was rather disappointed to be served canned fruit cocktail. Now, when I think of the country of Macedonia in my head I call it Fruit Cocktail, or nowadays North Fruit Cocktail. 😅
 
I am not a rich man, but thankfully, I have never fallen into the abyss of having to eat eels...
You would need to be a rich man to eat eel now. 4oz / 100g of smoked Eel is fetching £10 locally. £25 for half that weight with a bit of watercress, horseradish and Sea Purslane in our local Michelin.
I can’t even quad for Eel anymore without risking a hefty fine. The farmed stuff is ok but needs 12 hours salting before it can go in the smoker.
 
You would need to be a rich man to eat eel now.
As a teenager in Scotland I used to catch eels and trout quite often on rod and line. Eels are not the prettiest of fish but hot-smoked over a wood fire they are superb food. The equal of trout or salmon in my opinion. Sadly the numbers in the wild have declined so drastically that I could not bring myself to kill and eat any these days. Impressive creatures with an extraordinary life cycle.
 
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I should probably stay out of this interesting and educational discussion... I've enjoyed it and am not writing to chide or judge...

However, I find it strange to see people equating "eating like the locals" with eating animal parts that in many places and times were/are "because you were poor and had to eat what you got and not waste anything" (nose to tail) which are now delicacies, and which are, compared to the rest of the animal, rare/special.

Cows have one tongue, and a whole lotta other meat. Pigs have two ears, four feet, and... a whole lotta other meat. Ox have one tail... and a whole lotta other meat.

It perhaps used to be the case that rich people ate the prime cuts and the rest of us got the grisly bits. Now... these are the luxury items and eating them doesn't signify frugality or poverty, but rather the opposite. Then again for many of us now, and perhaps throughout history, walking the Camino is a fabulous luxury (an indulgence) unavailable and unaffordable to most of the world's population, so eating these now-again-exotic foods as pilgrim fare is fitting...

Eating the rarebits (ahem) used to be luxurious in Roman times, too, but are probably no longer available even for those on the Via Francigena.

[Brian at a gladiator match in "Life of Brian": "Larks' tongues. Wrens' livers. Chaffinch brains. Jaguars' earlobes. Wolf nipple chips. Get 'em while they're hot. They're lovely. Dromedary pretzels, only half a denar. Tuscany fried bats."]


My last housemate was a Food Anthropologist. This has become a popular field of study in recent years!
Reminds me of the Fish Lips in Black Bean Sauce that I ate in London during the 80's.

I wasn't game to try the 100 year old eggs in Bangkok but I do like Vegemite. That and Shiraz prove that some good things do come out of Oz.
 
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On a hot day after “windmill hill”( west of Pamplona) I was sitting in a bar sipping a cold water, when a young perigrina advised a new cooler. She said “you can order a hot tea in a glass and a bowl of ice. Next add some sugar and add the ice , it’s very refreshing” I smiled and we have something similar at home in North Carolina .
Ahhh, Sweet Tea in the south...sugar MUST be added hot, or it ain't proper😉
 
You would need to be a rich man to eat eel now. 4oz / 100g of smoked Eel is fetching £10 locally. £25 for half that weight with a bit of watercress, horseradish and Sea Purslane in our local Michelin.
I can’t even quad for Eel anymore without risking a hefty fine. The farmed stuff is ok but needs 12 hours salting before it can go in the smoker.
Where I fish on the Leven in Cumbria there is a Victorian eel-trap, basically a weir which can divert the river through a large metal grille. Some 100 years ago several imperial tons of eel were loaded daily onto the London train.

I’ve not seen one in ten years.
 
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In South Carolina it's simply called tea (to distinguish it from hot tea) and most restaurants do free refills and even give you some in a "to go" cup for free at the end of the meal.
In some of Toronto's old Chinatown restaurants, after the bars closed, we used to order "cold tea" with a knowing look and get a teapot full of cheap rye.
 
In some of Toronto's old Chinatown restaurants, after the bars closed, we used to order "cold tea" with a knowing look and get a teapot full of cheap rye.
When was that in Toronto? I lived there from 1969 to 1982, and went to those restaurants, too, and all we got was tea. Must depend on who you know, or something. LOL
 
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imho it’s all they are good for …
Swimming around is what they're best for.
But that's not what we're talking about.
Eels. An important sushi ingredient, just using a name we gaijin don't usually know - unagi.

But when I think eels, I think of the monsters in NZ. I saw some in South Westland once that were nearly as big around as my (not small) thigh. So I'm mightily impressed by you pulling them out of the Wanganui, @DoughnutANZ. Eeeeek.

Eels in Spain are in the same genus but a different species. The adults go to spawn in the Sargasso sea, and the elvers take years to drift to Spain...how...? It boggles the mind.

Sad we eat them after all that (not to mention that they're endangered - no surprise you ha en't seen them @henrythedog
I’ve not seen one in ten years.

That said, they make it into Atlas Obscura's food section of unique foods:

Which is how I giess we could think of what to us might be unusual: unique regional foods, culturally important.
 
But when I think eels, I think of the monsters in NZ.
On a visit to Australia I made a special point of visiting the Botanic Gardens in the middle of Brisbane to see the water dragons there - iguana-like lizards that live in big numbers in the park. What I didn't know was that the ponds where the lizards live are also home to big eels. I only found out when one cruised past inches from where I was standing at the edge of the pond! Found a short clip on Youtube which is just what I saw there! :)

IMG_20190614_135840_3.jpg

 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

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Swimming around is what they're best for.
But that's not what we're talking about.
Eels. An important sushi ingredient, just using a name we gaijin don't usually know - unagi.

But when I think eels, I think of the monsters in NZ. I saw some in South Westland once that were nearly as big around as my (not small) thigh. So I'm mightily impressed by you pulling them out of the Wanganui, @DoughnutANZ. Eeeeek.

Eels in Spain are in the same genus but a different species. The adults go to spawn in the Sargasso sea, and the elvers take years to drift to Spain...how...? It boggles the mind.

Sad we eat them after all that (not to mention that they're endangered - no surprise you ha en't seen them @henrythedog


That said, they make it into Atlas Obscura's food section of unique foods:

Which is how I giess we could think of what to us might be unusual: unique regional foods, culturally important.
The eels that we caught this way were never this big (from linked article)
1679485735914.png
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
=Australia New Zealand
For the record (in spite of the monster eels) NZ is very tame compared to Australia. No snakes or massive carnivorous reptiles, for starters. If you don't like gianormous crickets, you might be a bit spooked when they show up in your house, but other than that...

But back to food...
I googled and found a wealth of articles about all sorts of unique Spanish dishes.
I can leave Spain without trying most of these, thanks, eccept the onions.
 
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On one of our 5 caminhos Portuguêses we arrived in the Galicean town of Redondela on a sunny Sunday in May . It was very busy and there was a big feast going on
The feast of the Dragon , we heard later
Being a bit hungry we went to a bar for some tapas and we were attracted to a handwritten advertisement with the text
“ zapata con allada”. What is it ? Fish and the barkeeper put a thumb up.
Okay let’s try
We got a plate with something vague and
it tasted so bad and disgusting that it made holes in your socks and your ears hung limply over our head
We never tasted something awfull before
Of course we did not eat it and covered it with a napkin and left .yaggg
The hamburger tasted like heaven some minutes later in a snackbar.

The same experiency we had in Porto
They advertised a meal , Fejoado in a restaurant in the middle of the town
It is my favorite Brazilian food, Fejoado so we ordered it but it was the Portuguese variant with tripe ,organic meat from dead cows , tongue , heart , intestines etc. Yaggg
Napkin on top and off we went. Disgusting.

Now also reading other experiences about the food on the Portuguese but the Portuguese kitchen is excellent, special the fish dishes but it can happen you get something what is disgusting.
So since then we go for safe fish dishes
 

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The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
The knowing look! 😊
The same experiency we had in Porto
They advertised a meal , Fejoado in a restaurant in the middle of the town
It is my favorite Brazilian food, Fejoado so we ordered it but it was the Portuguese variant with tripe ,organic meat from dead cows , tongue , heart , intestines etc. Yaggg
Napkin on top and off we went. Disgusting.
I've only had good experiences with Portuguese feijoada. No tripe or other guts. The ones I've had were similar to cassoulet - beans with pork and chorizo. The beans gets soft and creamy. So delicious!
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

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Being a bit hungry we went to a bar for some tapas and we were attracted to a handwritten advertisement with the text
“ zapata con allada”. What is it ? Fish and the barkeeper put a thumb up.
Okay let’s try
We got a plate with something vague and
it tasted so bad and disgusting that it made holes in your socks and your ears hung limply over our head
We never tasted something awfull before
Of course we did not eat it and covered it with a napkin and left .yaggg

The same experiency we had in Porto
They advertised a meal , Fejoado in a restaurant in the middle of the town
It is my favorite Brazilian food, Fejoado so we ordered it but it was the Portuguese variant with tripe ,organic meat from dead cows , tongue , heart , intestines etc. Yaggg
Napkin on top and off we went. Disgusting.
Don't ever try Rocky Mountain Oysters if in the Southern US States.... er... make it ANY US States!
 
Don't ever try Rocky Mountain Oysters if in the Southern US States.... er... make it ANY US States!
An old story. English couple on holiday in Spain. The man wants to impress his girlfriend and asks "What's the most expensive thing on the menu?" "Criadillas" replies the waiter. So the man orders that and a while later a big plate with two greyish lumps the size of his fist arrives. The man is suspicious at first but really enjoys them. The couple come back to the restaurant a few times and every time the man orders criadillas. On the last night the waiter brings a big plate with two tiny things like grapes. The man complains "I ordered the criadillas!" "Yes Señor, but sometimes the bull wins..."
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
On one of our 5 caminhos Portuguêses we arrived in the Galicean town of Redondela on a sunny Sunday in May . It was very busy and there was a big feast going on
The feast of the Dragon , we heard later
Being a bit hungry we went to a bar for some tapas and we were attracted to a handwritten advertisement with the text
“ zapata con allada”. What is it ? Fish and the barkeeper put a thumb up.
Okay let’s try
We got a plate with something vague and
it tasted so bad and disgusting that it made holes in your socks and your ears hung limply over our head
We never tasted something awfull before
Of course we did not eat it and covered it with a napkin and left .yaggg
The hamburger tasted like heaven some minutes later in a snackbar.

The same experiency we had in Porto
They advertised a meal , Fejoado in a restaurant in the middle of the town
It is my favorite Brazilian food, Fejoado so we ordered it but it was the Portuguese variant with tripe ,organic meat from dead cows , tongue , heart , intestines etc. Yaggg
Napkin on top and off we went. Disgusting.

Now also reading other experiences about the food on the Portuguese but the Portuguese kitchen is excellent, special the fish dishes but it can happen you get something what is disgusting.
So since then we go for safe fish dishes


i found the picture of the zapata con allada from Redondela Almost have to vomit 🤢
 

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Then Horchata de Chufa, a drink made in Valencia out of the roots of a sedge. I had to Google it when I kept seeing it in grocery refrigerator cases - one of those happy encounters. Cold, and refreshingly delicious! Wikipedia (FWIW) says it's originally from North Africa.
Ah... Horchata! Totally fell in love with it in Barcelona
The little bakery\café next to our hotel where we had our breakfast every morning (much cheaper and yummier ...and freshly baked than the buffet offered at the hotel) - the lady would make one "from the scratch" (OK she didn't have to grind the nuts! but nicely mixed all the ingredients together) and give it to us....

20210802_094119.jpg20210802_094159.jpg
 
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To some extend slightly of the topic of "Strangest Food" but referencing previously mentioned ensalada rusa
My family celebrated Eastern Orthodox Easter yesterday by gathering at my brother's house
Here is our dinner table splendid with some yummies (I think folks can makeout/recognize) roasted peppers, olive medley, marinated mushrooms, pickles and picked tomatoes, herring w onions, roasted chicken, breaded schnitzel, pork ribs, and pickled cabbage (pretty close to sauerkraut but not quite). The traditional paschal bread (my brother faithfully bakes a batch and everyone leaves back home with 'one of their own' after dinner) and with dyed eggs around the base and plate of Ukrainian-style eggs next to it.
The said Ukrainian eggs are decorated with a "Pysanka" style. My wife & I did those.... but admittedly we cheat ;). The true craftsperson will actually decorate these by hand (and at some point I used to work with a lady who did so...and I was at AWE looking at her doing it). We just ran into a Ukrainian grocery store and bought the cellophane sleeves that go over the hard boiled eggs and the just dunk the eggs into hot water for 10 seconds to shrink-wrap (but they sure look darn good! :)). BTW, you can also see the letters XB on some of them which stands for Ukrainian (or Russian) Христос Воскрес - Christ is Risen
Finally my S-I-L's Oliv'ye salad (aka ensalada rusa). Considering that there were enough meats on the table - she did not add any to it hence it is just cut-up boiled red-bliss potatoes, pickles, scallions, eggs and peas (and mayo)
No tuna! :)
 

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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
To some extend slightly of the topic of "Strangest Food" but referencing previously mentioned ensalada rusa
My family celebrated Eastern Orthodox Easter yesterday by gathering at my brother's house
Here is our dinner table splendid with some yummies (I think folks can makeout/recognize) roasted peppers, olive medley, marinated mushrooms, pickles and picked tomatoes, herring w onions, roasted chicken, breaded schnitzel, pork ribs, and pickled cabbage (pretty close to sauerkraut but not quite). The traditional paschal bread (my brother faithfully bakes a batch and everyone leaves back home with 'one of their own' after dinner) and with dyed eggs around the base and plate of Ukrainian-style eggs next to it.
The said Ukrainian eggs are decorated with a "Pysanka" style. My wife & I did those.... but admittedly we cheat ;). The true craftsperson will actually decorate these by hand (and at some point I used to work with a lady who did so...and I was at AWE looking at her doing it). We just ran into a Ukrainian grocery store and bought the cellophane sleeves that go over the hard boiled eggs and the just dunk the eggs into hot water for 10 seconds to shrink-wrap (but they sure look darn good! :)). BTW, you can also see the letters XB on some of them which stands for Ukrainian (or Russian) Христос Воскрес - Christ is Risen
Finally my S-I-L's Oliv'ye salad (aka ensalada rusa). Considering that there were enough meats on the table - she did not add any to it hence it is just cut-up boiled red-bliss potatoes, pickles, scallions, eggs and peas (and mayo)
No tuna! :)
CW....aka Buffy😉. What a beautiful, colorful spread of food! I'm sure it tasted as good as it looks. Thanks for sharing! Btw, the eggs are gorgeous; no shame there!
 
To know my former colonizer (the Philippines was a former colony of Spain), I ate everything what she had on her restaurant's menu. Each day of course was different. What you find strange and revolting, I liked. You see, a lot of our food were influenced by our former masters.
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
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?"
Fabes?
Percebes?
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...
With food comes culture and history. Why do people eat what they do. Where do those traditions come from? Saying something is « yucky » or « gross » seems to indicate a value judgement with a North American lifestyle being its basis for comparison. That in my view is not correct.
 
I was in Ponferrada, and it was my last day on the Camino. I was in a restaurant and asked the waiter if they served any local Galician specialty meals. Yes, he said, we have “botillo”, so I ordered it. After it came to the table I had no idea what it was and it was challenging to eat, so I looked it up. Botillo is the drags left over from butchering a pig: bones, ribs,cartilage, scraps, fat, shreds of meat,etc., all stuffed into a pork intestine, spiced then smoked for three or four days, then braised for two days and then served over very lovely mashed potatoes. I finished it, but it was too challenging to enjoy.
 

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