The secret gallery’s blog

Maybe the first secret gallery in Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland

Posts Tagged ‘camino de santiago

Cooking in Interesting Places

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Four years ago in a small town called Negreira about 20 kms west on Santiago de Compostella, Spain, I first met James. I had been living on the simplest of food; no cooking just lots of tinned sardines, with the variation of sardines in oil one day and tomato sauce another, sometimes interspersed with tinned mussels or squid, Manchego cheese, olives out of a plastic sachet, the occasional tomato and a lot of bread!  Yes I did have one or two of the famous Bocadillos con tortilla de patatas, which translates to a roll with potato omelet, these came in varying degrees of dryness and hardness, but if you were lucky could be delicious!

My first sniff that James was an extraordinary artist of food, in the best possible way, was when out of his three wheeled baby buggy which contained his life since he began walking from London, he produced a great salad! James had a pretty extensive range of herb in there!  We still ate olives and tomatoes but they tasted amazing, I don’t know if it was just a little seasoning and oregano, but I just knew it was different! That night we made a fire and James made some bread, which we devoured with garlic butter and roasted freshly picked corn on the cobs! Ever since those days while we were walking, every time James cooks it is something different; never ask him for the recipe or how he made it because he wont know! his food is like eating originals no mass reproductions here!  

One of the lovely and delicious memories I have of are time walking to the south of Spain was when we were walking through Portugal and stopped in a bus shelter for a rest while it was raining, and James made the most amazing Pumpkin soup! I did something in my sketch book and suddenly there was a soup brewing, cream, onion, garlic, cumin and I am sure a few other magic ingredients were added. I would like to confess to taking the pumpkin from some farmers field, sorry, but thank you for the pumpkin, who ever you are! I would also like to say thank you to the lovely man who brought us into his garden, sat us down and gave us figs and home made bread!  Possible the same man, thinking we were very hungry! Along with cooking in nature and bus shelters we frequented Band Stands to dine in and sleep in too! We ate in the band stand in Merida and a few others along the way! 

The Secret Garden

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Spain (Camino to Santiago)

The back of our Lada Niva 4×4 was filled with the contents of James’ herb garden, which luckily was in pots! Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Tarragon, Fennel and a few more, along with lanterns and candle holders, painted tiles, pieces of oak from old wine barrels which had some words painted on them hoping to inspire the passing pilgrims. A couple of woven table cloths to cover the top of the rusty well, and a watering can. The location was the sight of an anciant Roman village, now all that there is is a dry well and two benches. Suddenly it was a little herb garden!

Every morning we brewed fresh coffee and water for tea that were left along with a little teapot and cups for the ceramony! We left a mound of oranges and lots of granola bars along with a few handy backpacking supplies like cloves of garlic, chillies and shallots! Every morning after leaving the fresh supplies James and I would light the candles and wind up the musical duck pond and dissapear quickly to give the pilgrims a very surreal experience in the middle of a lonely track!

For two months we left these little offerings for pilgrims. The idea of the donativo or donation system that we always used was so that anybody could afford to have something to eat and drink it didn’t matter if they had no money, people could leave what they could afford and what they felt happy leaving in the donativo box. This system worked really well for us and things seem to all level out in the end and everybody seemed to be happier including us! It was hard to believe what a huge difference this little idea made to people’s day, perhaps even their Camino.