When people think back on the culinary joys of the Camino, they tend to think of chorizo, manchego cheese, pulpo, bocadillos, cerveza, vino tinto … but I have a very special favourite: The Clara. Sometimes called Clara con Limón, sometimes ready mixed with its own tap in bars. So what is it?
A Clara is, in short, a shandy. A Radler. A 50-50 mix of lager and lemonade. You can even ask for sparkling mineral water instead of lemonade, but let’s face it, that’s just watering down decent Spanish lager. And that’s just plain wrong however you look at it (have a bottle of mineral water followed by a bottle of beer if you must – or have one of the encreasingly available and popular 0% alc lagers).
The largely unsung beauty of the Clara becomes clear on a hot day, or after a hard walk, when a dewy fresh pint of cerveza looks so tempting and feels like such a good idea. In general it isn’t – not repeatedly, and not if what you really need is more liquids and not more alcohol. But how do you stop yourself from getting one when it looks so good? And how can you make yourself order a can or glass of non-alcoholic pop when they are all so sugary sweet that you can feel the tooth decay setting in the minute you smell it? It might be cold and refreshing, but a bit bleh …
Enter the Clara! A fresh, crisp, fizzy, semi sweet drink that can be poured down your neck practically guiltlessly, delicious and refreshing and cold, with sugar for energy and probably lots of vitamins and minerals to boot. For some reason a shandy in England doesn’t taste as good, but it is still clever on a sunny day and keeps me hydrated and happy. I shall try them out in pubs along Hadrian’s Wall as well, maybe it’s walking that makes them taste like the drink of the gods?
Here is a picture taken approximately five minutes after we landed on Spanish soil in March – His is a well known Spanish lager, Hers is a cool, crisp and refreshing Clara! (I can almost taste it now!)