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Trail Day 11: The Hidden Foodie World of Spain

JoeFood

Photo by: J W Foster

Elaine writes: Did you know there are sequestered dining spaces in Spain?  If you are the average tourist you can easily miss them because it is so easy to find a dining table along the sidewalks and river banks of Spain.  These tables are easy to spot, typically in places where you can just sit, relax and watch the world go by. This quick and easy culinary experience can be quite satisfying and offer some good people-watching opportunities  Joe and I have recently discovered another side of Spain that is even more meaningful to us because it syncs with our philosophy of having faith and taking the time to blend in with the local people in places they call their own.  Today, we passed by many of the obvious riverbank restaurants where many of the pilgrims were noshing and enjoying the scenery in order to continue testing our theory that exploring is best done with patience and faith that things will work out as they should. We happened upon a little restaurant off the beaten track with a bar and some empty tables.  The menu looked good and the price, even better–10e for three courses and a bottle of wine! I’ve noticed that we are starting to become more expert at “sniffing out” the places where the locals hang out and even though this place seemed pretty empty, we decided to go on in and test it out. Not more than five seconds after announcing we were there for lunch, we were whisked down to the cellar where the place was booming with Spaniards. The outside of the restaurant had given us no clue as to what was inside. There was no printed menu and the waitress spoke only Spanish. She listed the dishes in Spanish only.  It seemed they had no need for multilingual menus because there were no patrons who required translating.
The wine we had for lunch was from the Rioja valley–produced from the very vines we have been passing (and sampling from) all day! These grape vines are about as thick as an elephant’s leg, and the grapes are dark purple and bursting with a succulent sweetness that has consistently revised us as our energy wanes from all the walking. It was also clear at lunch that the people here are unabashedly proud of there wine.  So much so, that the waitress seemed offended when we suggested we might want to try a wine other than Rioja–“all our wines here are the best, you are in Rioja” she sniffed. We quickly checked ourselves and offered, “of course we would like a Rioja tinto” and all was right with the world again. Even the stuffed red peppers were fresh off the local vines with an earthy organic flavor that can only come from just-picked, ripe, local produce.
I guess this life of a pilgrim on the Camino is not all pain, fear and blisters.  The anticipation of walking into a new town each day and testing our faith and patience is doing a great service to our relationship and our confidence as explorers.




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