Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One does not live by bread alone...........

......but it certainly helps. Lisa remarked on how poorly "pilgrim" eating habits mesh with Spanish eating habits. Allow me to elaborate.

Most people in Spain stay up late and get up late. That means local cafes, bars, and bistros are closed until about 9am in the morning. Pilgrims, on the other hand, rise early hoping to walk as far as they can before the heat of the day sets in.

We rose this morning at about 5am -- and there was nothing open. Because we carry everything we own -- including food -- we tend to travel light. We are dependent on cafes, bars, and bistros for our daily bread. Happily, we stayed the night before in an albuergue that promised breakfast. Waiting for us was coffee, bread, sweet rolls. And more coffee!

This isn´t always the case. I remember a meal in Santa Domingo -- by vending machine! We kept putting in change to score the caffeine needed for the morning´s walk. We needed sustenance until the first cafe opened. And that was hours away.

At the other end of the day, most people in Spain eat late, restaurants often only opening for an evening meal around 9:30pm. That´s about a half hour after a pilgrim´s bedtime. To accommodate, many places advertize a¨"pilgrim menu" which gives you a first course, second course, dessert, and wine or water for about 10 Euros. Restaurants serve this meal around 8pm to pilgrims, then open for the locals after we all pack up and leave. It must be quite a workout for the cooks, but it´s been a blessing for us. It´s great food, lots of carbs -- and we have not yet fallen asleep in our desserts.

Talk about sleepwalking: we are sleep-eating!

We have taken to scavenging whatever bread we can, stuffing it into our packs, and noshing on bread and water during the course of the day. It works.

It also strikes me that this is very close to the medieval experience, when pilgrims simply traveled on bread, water, salt -- and the food of good company.

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