Like all over Spain, Santiago de Compostela’s convents offer delicious delicacies made by the nuns available for purchase on request.
A popular tradition says that if you do not want it to rain on your wedding day, you must take a minimum of 12 fresh eggs to the Clarissa of the Convent of Santa Clara asking them in return to pray for a sunny day.
The nuns then made out almond cakes – Tartas de Santiago – of these fresh eggs which are considered one of the culinary delights of the city of Santiago de Compostela.
The fame of the convent cakes and delicacies made by “hands of angels” is widespread. And in Santiago not really surprisingly these delicious traditions have endured, virtually unchanged since the 13th century.
The Convent delicacies of Santa Clara
Located to the north of the city walls, Santiago de Compostela’s Convent of Santa Clara was the first Order of St. Claire’s in Galicia. It was founded and promoted during the second half of the 13th century by Doña Violante, wife of King Alfonso X the Wise, and therefore bears the title of “Royal.” The main façade, designed by the Compostela architect Simón Rodríguez (18th century), is one of the best examples of the theatrical sense of Spain’s baroque style: it is a curtain-façade that hides the cloister and, at the back of a small interior garden, the church, which is also baroque but simpler. The Convent of Santa Clara was declared a National Monument in 1940.
There are currently 13 nuns living in the convent. Apart from prayer and other convent chores, they do work for individuals and the city’s churches: ironing, starching and gold embroidery (even football team pennants!).
Some old verses, in the form of a recipe, praise these sweetmeats:
“Half a kilo of white sugar,
water of hazelnuts,
and into the saucepan the pumpkin.
Three “Salve” and one Our Father
and the grave of your hands”.
The convents best known for their cakes and sweets in Santiago de Compostela are:
- Convento del Carmen: Santa Clara, 8 – speciality: rice pudding and wafers for Holy Communions
- Convento de Belvís: Pelvis 2 – speciality: lard cakes, macaroons and almond tarts
- Convento de San Pelayo: Rúa de San Paio de Antealtares, 23 – speciality: almond cakes, Santiago tarts