This year Mom and I journeyed again to Spain where we walked the Camino from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre.
Also known as Land’s End, Finisterre is rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galicia, Spain and in Roman times was believed to be the end of the world. BUT WAIT – that’s not what we’re here for. In a bid to do something different and moving the focus slightly away from walking, I want to highlight something rather wonderful about the journey: the smells and edibles.
Looking at our previous Camino adventures, we noticed a lot of different delicious things from walking through woodland, seashores, mountains, and fields.
As with anything to do with foraging, if you are taking some, be sure to take only what you need and if there’s only a little, don’t take it. Also, even if you can’t create some of the things I mention while you’re walking, chances are you may find many of these in your own home countries. Oh, and you can’t eat everything!
N.B. What’s available completely depends on the seasons but we recommend heading on the Camino in April/May to catch most of these amazing goodies.
This tree is prevalent on the Portuguese Way and Camino Finisterre. While the eucalyptus isn’t the most beautiful tree to look at due to its shedding – its smell is incredibly distinctive and wafts through your Camino journey.
We scouted this out on pathways across The Way, just remember if you are picking it up, make sure it’s away from heavy traffic as it may be polluted. You can easily smell it as you walk and mint tea is delicious simply with hot water after a day’s walking.
Oooh the stinging nettle, a pain when accidentally grazing your knees but in fact it’s very versatile. Nettles are best when very tender, so make sure to get them when they’re small and from the tips. They’re an excellent blood purifier, a mild laxative and extremely high in vitamin C. They also make a healthy relaxing herb tea. Best to have gloves to pick these. Consider at home making nettle beer.
While this name is found to describe a variety of plants, I’m referring to the one that is found in Europe. This plant is also known as Bread and Butter has round green leaves and is very juicy. It’s perfect if you’re feeling a bit dehydrated. You can primarily find it on stone walls (we saw plenty when we were winding around villages). It’s also great in salads! See what it looks like here.
Prickly and green, what stands out about the gorse is its delightful yellow flowers. It’s in flower chiefly from January to June, though often you can find it sporadically throughout the year. If you can, take a few of these yellow petals and give them a sniff – they’ll smell of coconut! You can use the leaves to make gorse cordial.
Good old Shakespeare mentions the risky business of rock samphire collecting in King Lear: ‘‘Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!’’, but fear not, we spotted samphire while on the low coastline. This plant is salty and succulent-esque – sadly it’s not as juicy as French samphire, but it’s tasty nonetheless.
Well known for its purple flowers and gorgeous smell, lavender can be found along the French Way. Keep an eye out around Montes de Leon and the village of Riego de Ambrós for a valley-full of purple bloom. Oh, and if you’re ever in Ireland, head along to Murphy’s Ice Cream who sometimes do Lavender Icecream (it’s amazing).
While some complain that it’s simply a weed, I beg to differ. Purslane is an edible, low-growing succulent plant with thick, rosy stems – tangy and juicy, it has a slightly bitter peppery taste. Found in low to mid altitudes it can be cooked like spinach.
Have you walked The Way? What delights have you come across? Let me know in the comments below. Also, we would love if you took a look at the video I put together of our adventure on the Camino Finisterre this year. Many thanks to Cry Monster Cry for letting me feature their music.