Running of the Bulls in San Fermín- My tribute to Spanish Cooking

6 Jul

Two summers ago I had my second visit to Spain.  My first I was just 17 years old and I spent close to a whole month in Spain traveling with my parents to cities like Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Barcelona, Valencia, Mallorca, Ibiza, Marbella, Torremolinos, Cádiz, Jerez, and Sevilla.  I was in LOVE… in love with Spain.  I may have been a Spaniard in another life and I remember telling my mom I would move to Spain in a heartbeat if given the chance…

I tried to grab that chance “by the horns” in 1992 (no pun intented)  when Puerto Rico was recruiting students to work in the Puerto Rico pavilion at 92 Seville’s World Fair, the first and only to date for the Island.  I wish my French was as good then as it is today… I may have made it.  Still, it took me almost 20 years to return to Spain and it was even more beautiful than before.

I arrived with my friend Walter in Barcelona… much cleaner and nicer than what I remembered.   Barcelona was the start of a 3 week tour around Spain that would take us to Villafranca del Penedés, Zaragoza, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, and Madrid.


Our trip coincided with the infamous week-long festival called Los Encierros de San Fermín, which are celebrated in Pamplona every year from the 7th to the 14th of July.    They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old part of Pamplona as far as the bullring by runners.   I’ve never liked, condoned or promoted bullfights, as I know what the ultimate fate of the bull is, but attending the Encierros is something else.


The fiestas are celebrated in honor of San Fermín, patron saint of Navarra, although the religious aspect would seem to have taken on a secondary role over the last number of years.   Nowadays, the fiestas are seen as a mass gathering of people from all the corners of the world and where the partying, the fun and the joy of it all are the most outstanding ingredients.

I saw my first Encierro from a balcony… tour companies rent you the apartment balconies along the route of the bulls.   I have to thank my friend Ana Yolanda for this…  You must be at the balcony by 6AM to be ahead of the street crowd, because at 8AM sharp a rocket goes off and the bulls are let out of the stable.  They serve you a very small breakfast to keep your stomach in check until right after the encierro, when we are all let out to roam the street of Pamplona at leisure.

Vacaciones Espana - Julio 2007 443

  Vacaciones Espana - Julio 2007 447

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   zezenburu_g  Vacaciones Espana - Julio 2007 483

This is how some balconies in Pamplona are decorated, with big life-like cutouts of the kukuxumusu bull.

Several things fascinated me about my experience in San Fermín…

  • The history and traditions behind this event
  • The energy of the people running with the bulls and around the city in general , as so many people use it as a rite of passage for important moments in their lives – I met a US father who had run with the bulls in Pamplona right after he finished his tour in Vietnam and that day his son was running too after being released from a tour in Afganinstan…  death wish anyone?
  • The marketing developed by a local company, kukuxumusu, from which you’ll see various artworks throughout this Spanish Delicacies series… – they have these wonderful drawings of bulls and the runners.  They’re the official designers for San Fermín.  They’re original to Pamplona and have the best T-Shirts ever!!!  I have a few of their creations… the one on the left is the one from 2007 and the one on the right is the one from this year…  cute, huh?  What’s cool is that this year’s t-shirt is exactly the view I had from our balcony…



Today at noon Spain time (which happened at 6AM for us in Puerto Rico and the US East Coast), the Txupinazo marked the start of the Sanfermines…



A big rocket is launched and everyone gathered in front of the Ayuntamiento opens up Cava bottles to celebrate 8 days of festivities.  Therefore we’ll be opening a bottle of the finest non-alcoholic apple cider and commemorate my love for San Fermín with a collection of Spaniard recipes…  all my vegetarian interpretations of Spanish food I love to eat.  Enjoy…

1 de enero, 2 de febrero, 3 de marzo, 4 de abril

5 de mayo, 6 de junio, 7 de julio, SAN FERMIN

A Pamplona hemos de ir…


Vacaciones Espana - Julio 2007 480

Meeting new friends in the streets of Pamplona

If you would like to join me follow the Encierros LIVE, just tune into all this week at about 1:30AM EDST where a live feed from CUATRO, a Spanish TV station, is aired.  The Encierro starts at 2AM sharp… which is 8AM in Spain.


Tomato Bread / Pan con Tomate

Pan con Tomate

Spanish Tortilla / Tortilla Española

Tortilla Espanola 1

Galician Empanada / Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega

Rioja-Style Potatoes / Papas a la Riojana

Papas a la Riojana

Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Manchego Cheese

Piquillos rellenos de Manchego

Tortilla Sandwich

Bocadillo de Tortilla

Spinach Croquetas


Green Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Ana Yolanda’s Sangría

Brandad-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Goat Cheese Tapa

Queso de Cabra Tapa - KFC

Asturian Tomato Salad

Ensalada Tomates Asturiana - KFC

3 Responses to “Running of the Bulls in San Fermín- My tribute to Spanish Cooking”

  1. Steven - Electronic Cigarettes November 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Very well done. Do you write for any other blogs? Nicely done, Steven.

  2. Teertgelt November 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

    Wow Article , I thought it was phenomenal

    I look ahead to more great postings like this one. Does This Blog have a RSS I can subscribe to for anymore information from you?

    • karmafreecooking November 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

      Of course… you can subscribe via an RSS feed or via e-mail alerts. Click on the links here or on the bottom of the side bar to your right. Welcome to KarmaFree Cooking and hope you keep visiting often. Thanks.

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