I’ve been in Spain now just about 5 or 6 weeks and so far so good though. Looking up gluten free in Spain yielded a few results but I knew from earlier experiences that Spain can be pretty easy when it comes to eating gluten free, naturally. Breakfast is tough, snacks are tough. But what else is new? There have been many changes since last I was in the country. When I ask, “is there flour in that?” most waiters immediately know to say “no, no hay gluten”. Yep, everyone seems to know what gluten is. Great, for the most part.
While hiking the Camino de Santiago, I quickly learned I needed my own snacks. Every guide and every individual will say not to pack your own food on the camino, if you have Celiacs, don’t listen. Luckily, plenty of places in the cities and often even in the towns, have a few options. Every few days I bought a bag of cookies. The pharmacies, para-pharmacies, and the “natural” and “herbal” stores always have options. The problem is that you don’t want to walk with much and you don’t know when you’ll have access to a toaster or utensils- so cookies and crackers are usually the way to go.
I quickly learned which cookies or crackers were my favorite and least sweet (coming soon) and because I need to eat something in the morning, I’d eat a few before hitting the road. And these aren’t gourmet and delicious, they are regular old gf processed cookies from a bag, so while tasty, not exactly good for me. Once on the road, I’d keep my eyes peeled for a tortilla (usually de patate). Almost every small town we walked through had a coffee shop with a tortilla and a cup of coffee with my name on it. I’d walk for anywhere between 1-3 hours and then stop for breakfast. Once breakfast was out of the way, the rest was easy (usually). For anyone reading this as a guide, make sure you request “sin pan” when you FIRST order your tortilla. If you don’t, they will bring you the tortilla on bread or on the same plate. This system worked out fine for me since I liked the morning alone and while most folks were eating sandwiches or pastries in the morning, I was already walking and then taking a leisurely breakfast break.
Walking the camino involved a lot of towns with “menus del dia” or menu of the day for a set price. It was usually a 3 course meal with a bottle of wine included for incredibly cheap. There was pretty much always an option for the gluten intolerant and usually a server who had an idea of what that means. Several places even had an *ask about our gluten free menu. The first small town I went through with a sign saying “gluten free pasta” made me so happy that I got a bowl even though I was barely hungry. After that, I quickly realized that many places along the camino cater to just such ailments. And no extra charge, by the way, for ordering the gluten free version.
I will say that having cookies or crackers in my bag at all times saved me on a number of occasions. When you’re walking and walking and suddenly incredibly hungry but everything is closed for siesta and the easiest thing to do is buy a baguette or a pastry along the way, it’s a pretty good idea to have an emergency stash in your bag. Just never too much at once- every ounce on your back counts!