Cooking on the Camino

Hunter and Stephie Van Wagenen (center) flanked by their fellow cooks after a delicious curry meal prepared in their albergue's kitchen.

Hunter and Stephie Van Wagenen (center) flanked by their fellow cooks after a delicious curry meal prepared in their albergue's kitchen.

I’ve already written about the common foods you’ll eat along the Camino, and you may have picked up on the fact that I get a bit tired of them over the course of a few weeks. Whenever I’m craving something a bit different and more flavorful, and I don’t want to shell out the extra cash to go to a high-end restaurant, I like to cook on the Camino.

Many albergues now have kitchens with at least a stove and some basic utensils, so if youare ever weary of eating other people’s cooking or tired of the mass-produced meals at many bars, cooking is an easy solution! You might have to work with an outdoor gas stove that you have to light with matches or figure out a fancy electric one with 12 heat settings. You might have one pot that’s the wrong size or all the cookware you need. Every albergue is different, but cooking on the Camino is worth experiencing at least once.

More than a money-saver, cooking on the Camino is one of the best ways to interact with your fellow pilgrims--everyone has to eat, and if you really want to save money on a decent meal it’s best to get a group of people to pitch in on the costs and the work together. It’s fun to get together in the kitchen with folks from different countries, and taste some pretty incredible creations. Not only that but if cooking is a passion you can learn a lot of worthwhile techniques by seeing how others cook. I’ve had pasta cooked to perfection with homemade sauce made by Italians, sautéed steak made by Australians, hearty salads with herb chicken made by yours truly, and, most recently, chicken curry made by an Englishman. The curry was an especially welcome treat after going without spicy food for weeks!

Not only do these kinds of cooperative suppers taste good, they also enhance the feeling of camaraderie between you and your friends; when you create something delicious out of the limited stock at the only mercado in town, using one or two pots and an eclectic mix of utensils, it feels like a victory.

Do you have some favorite recipes that could be adapted to cooking on the Camino? We would love to hear from you, and share the information with other pilgrims. Write to me at hunter@ CaminoProvisions.com .

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Hunter Van Wagenen’s Camino experiences began in 2007 when he was a high school senior. He enjoys sharing humorous and miraculous stories in addition to practical advice he has collected during his walks. He and his wife Stephie's dream is to live in Spain helping pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. They currently live in Greensboro, NC. hunter@CaminoProvisions.com