Holy Week Foods in Zamora, Spain

You may have realized this by now, but food in Spain is a pretty big deal. Buying the ingredients, choosing just the right store, preparing dishes, the presentation, the first bite, talking about the food you’re eating, savoring the food, talking about the meal in general … all of these are regular practices at my in-laws’ house. Food is important. This is one of my favorite parts about Spain, because it reminds me of how fortunate we all are to be able to eat high-quality delicious food with the people we love.

I’ve talked previously about foods Spaniards eat at Christmas. Now we’re in the middle of perhaps Spain’s most important holiday: Semana Santa, or Holy Week. And, as is to be expected, food plays a major role. Of course, what people eat during this holiday season varies from region to region, from family to family. But I’ll talk about my experiences here in Castilla y León and, more specifically, Zamora.

During the Lenten season, meat used to be totally off limits on Fridays. Most Catholics (and lapsed Catholics) no longer follow this rule, but my in-laws do. So what’s for lunch on Fridays during Lent?


Potaje espinacas garbanzosSource: Lola en Cocina

Potaje is a soup. It can be made with vegetables, lentils, or chickpeas. My in-laws eat a chickpea potaje, made with chickpeas, spinach, rice, garlic, and paprika. This recipe will vary greatly from household to household, though. This is for the primer plato (first plate). For the segundo plato, the second plate, they will most often eat some form of bacalao (cod) or another type of fish. For example, bacalao al ajoarriero, cod with braised vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic) and potaje de vigilia, which can have chickpeas, cod, spinach, and paprika, decorated with hard-boiled egg.

Chicharros en Escabeche

Chicharro en EscabecheSource: El Aderezo

Chicharros en escabeche is a dish based on the tiny horse-mackerel (Spansh: chicharro) with garlic, broth, bay leaf, rosemary, and white wine.

Sopas de Ajo

Sopas de ajo Zamora

Zamorans love garlic. They even have a garlic fair in June. in Castilla y León, they eat sopas de ajo (garlic soup) during Holy Week. In Zamora, the soup is eaten on Good Friday morning. There is a procession that starts at 5:00 in the morning (yes, this is still Spain!), and they make a stop around 7:00-8:00 in the morning to eat a little something, that being garlic soup. Not very typical for Spain, but it’s an essential tradition in Zamora, where processions are just as important as in Andalucía!

Dos y Pingada

Dos y pingada ZamoraSource: Dos y PIngada

Dos y pingada is a very Zamoran dish. It is served on Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurreción) in the morning after the procession of the Brotherhood of the Holy Resurrection. It consists of two fried eggs (thus the use of dos, meaning two), two or three slices of ham, and bread. There is even a ballad about this Zamoran tradition:

Ya resucitó el señor
y repican las campanas.
Prepara el almuerzo, chica,
y fríe dos y pingada

The Lord has been resurrected

and the bells ring

Prepare lunch, my girl

And fry up dos y pingada

And now for those of you with a sweet tooth …


Torrija Holy Week

Torrijas are perhaps the most widely eaten dessert of Holy Week in Spain. They are similar to French toast and made with bread, milk, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon.

Torrijas have been documented as early as the fifteenth century, and they were seen as an ideal dish for women to recover from labor. The first recipes are dated in 1607. Some speculate that this dish’s popularity during Lent may have had to do with the need to use up leftover bread, because people ate less during Lent as meat was prohibited.


Rebojos zamoranosSource. El Plato Típico

Rebojos zamoranos are just that: Zamoran. Rebojos are little cakes with a crunchy top layer, due to the sugar sprinkled on them before baking, with a squishy interior. Little is known of their exact origin, although many suspect that these cakes date back to the Middle Ages, but there are no documents to back that up. Nonetheless, this recipe has been passed down from generation to generation in Zamoran kitchens.


Aceitadas Zamora

Aceitadas are, yet again, typical in Zamora. The name comes from aceite, oil, probably due to the fact that these cookies are made with olive oil and not butter. They are circular, compact, and perfect for dunking in a mug of tea or coffee. They are distinguished due to the slight whiff of anise you will get upon biting into one. These cookies could be eaten during Lent, because they contained no lard or butter (no animal products).

Almendras Garrapiñadas

Almendras garrapiñadas

If you walk along the streets of Zamora during Holy Week, you will soon be asking yourself, “What is that amazing smell?” Your answer: almendras garrapiñadas, or candied almonds. There are several little stands set up on Zamora’s main streets, all of them selling candied nuts and seeds of all kinds. The most typical (and in my mind most delicious) are the candied almonds. Even looking at the picture makes me hungry.

On Good Friday morning, during the dawn procession, brothers of the Jesús Nazareno Vulgo “La Congregación” hand out little bags of these treats.

As you can see, Holy Week is about eating too! Just check out my Instagram photo of a sign I saw in a shop here in Zamora:

Kaley Instagram

What are some other typical Holy Week foods in your neighborhood?


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La Familia and Independence

Ah, la familia. Mothers and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Cousins, aunts, uncles. Grandparents. Godmothers and godfathers. “Aunts” and “uncles”. The friends who feel like family. In Spain, there is a saying, or perhaps more of a refrain: Madre, sólo hay una. You have but one mother. If I’ve learned anything about Spain—and oh, there is much to learn—family is important. And mothers … well, you’ve only got one.

The stereotypes are (somewhat) true: Spanish children don’t leave the nest as early as those of us in Anglo-Saxon countries. The average age for leaving home in Spain is 25.2 years old (source). This is not seen in a bad light here; it isn’t shameful. In fact, even if a 20-something does have a job, they may choose to stay at home with Mom and Dad, just because they can. After all, why pay rent when you can stay at home rent free?


So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Zac

Hey all! I’m back today with a slightly different perspective on what it means to date a Spaniard. This interview is from September (I know, I know: I’m a terrible blogger), so the dates they’ve been dating are slightly longer than he says.

Dating a Spaniard Zac

Zac in Madrid

Let’s see, my name is Zac, I’m 23 and I (like so many other Americans in Spain) am an Auxiliar de Conversacion. I’m from a small, tourist town in Arizona and I decided to come to Spain to be with my Spaniard, David, after graduating and having a short-lived attempt at teaching English in China.

How did you meet your significant other?


American Cartoons in Spain: Do You Know Who Triki Is?

If you’ve never been to Spain, you may not realize that a lot of American movies are shown here, but not with subtitles. No, instead they’re dubbed into the Spanish language, and often the title is changed—sometimes for obvious reasons. You see, The Bucket List title just wouldn’t work in Spain, where they don’t use the idiom “to kick the bucket,” meaning “to die.” Sure, they have their own idioms, but the title was changed to Antes de Morir (Before Dying), which makes sense and gets the point across. Back in the day—that is, the 80s—cartoon characters often had their names “translated.” By translated I mean changed into Spanish names that would perhaps be more palatable for Spanish audiences. I find these names hilarious, and I sometimes even prefer the Spanish names! Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

Triki—Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster Triki (Alternate spellings: Triqui, Triky.) Also known as el monstruo de las galletas, Triki is known for saying, “¡Yo querer galletas!” and “¡Yo comer galleta!”, not exactly the most correct form of Spanish, but he gets his point across.