Frequently Asked Questions

From Eating Asturias, the Encyclopedia of Asturian Gastronomy
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From time to time I get questions that are not really a part of this site, but are more about the details behind the site, from what I do all day to smaller details of what to do when visiting, or how to do something while in Asturias. I endeavor to answer all of those frequently asked questions here, so that they can be of use to everyone. The links below will take you to sections with more specific information.

FAQs About Living (and Working) In Asturias

Q: Why did you move to Asturias?

A: Read My Story

Q: How’s your Spanish?

A: Okay, but better than when I moved here. My Asturian is worse.

Q: We want to book a private tour with you. Are you available?

A: I offer a number of services to the English speaking traveler in Asturias. Take a look at the Visit Asturias section for all the details.

FAQs About Vacationing in Asturias

Q: What’s so special about Asturias / Why should I vacation there?

A: Asturias is, to me, the absolute best of what Spain has to offer the visitor. For more information, read The Reasons You Should Visit Asturias.

Q: What do I need to know about Asturias before I book my vacation?

A: Asturias is very far from Madrid or Barcelona, and even farther from the Costas. Asturias is much more rural than you might expect. A rental car is a necessity unless you plan on never leaving Gijón or Oviedo.

Q: I’m coming to Asturias! Can you recommend places to stay or eat?

A: I don’t make specific recommendations for either. However, I do recommend looking through this site at the Eating and Drinking categories to get an idea of the sorts of places I frequent, and my experiences with them. In addition, there is My Asturias, where I talk about places I go for my own amusement.

Q: Can we use our mobile phones in Asturias / Spain / Europe?

A: That depends entirely on your phone and your carrier. Spain uses GSM (900+1800), UTMS (2100), and LTE (1800+2600) bands. There are no CDMA bands in Spain, so Sprint and Verizon branded phones, as well as any other CDMA only phone, will absolutely not work.

If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you should be able to simply buy a pre-paid sim card on arrival in Spain and use it as any Spaniard would. Avoid buying ANY SIM CARD in the airport, and instead find a retail store from one of the big three mobile carriers in Spain once you are in town. Movistar, Vodafone, and Orange all offer prepaid sim cards with 2 week or one month validity at very competitive rates.

Exporting Things From Asturias

Q: What foods can we take home to the States from Asturias?

A: First let me say that US Customs and Border Patrol are not to be trifled with. They have wide latitude and discretion in the application of fines, and those fines can run into the thousands of dollars per item. So let’s start right off by saying this clearly: You must declare every food and beverage item you are bringing back into the States. Failure to do so will trigger automatic fines if you are found out. If you bring a prohibited item in and declare it: no fine. they just confiscate it. If you bring in an allowed item but do not declare it: fine. Sometimes ridiculously big fines.

That said, let’s get onto some specifics:

  • Meats: All fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables are prohibited for sure.
    • Cured hams and cold cuts from Spain are specifically banned.
    • The requirements for other sausages are so byzantine and opaque that I would caution against even attempting to bring sausages back from Asturias.
  • Cheeses: Hard and semi-soft cheeses are fine, as long as vacuum sealed and obviously not in commercial quantities. Cheeses packed in liquid such as Requexon, or cheeses that pour like cream are allowed.
  • Seafood: Vacuum sealed fish, shrimp, and other seafood are allowed and can be fresh, frozen, dried, smoked, canned or cooked.
  • Honey: Any honey product that is sealed and not intended to be fed to bees is permitted
  • Sauces & Condiments: Sealed prepared sauces that contain no meat are allowed.
  • Cider and Wine: You may pack a bottle in your suitcase, but larger quantities usually require shipment. Look here for more information.

Restaurants in Asturias

Q: Do you have restaurant reviews I can use to decide where to eat?

A: I don’t do restaurant reviews. I am not a critic, and I’m not out to provide a comprehensive guide to every restaurant in Asturias. If I have a write-up of a restaurant on this blog, it is because I enjoyed it and recommend it. You can read my Restaurant Review Policy for more information.

Q: Where’s the best place to eat paella / gazpacho / fried seafood?

A: Asturias is about 800 km north of all of that. While it is possible to find restaurants serving these dishes from southern Spain, I don’t recommend any of them. You will find them around tourist squares in the main cities, of dubious quality, and wildly overpriced. You’re in Asturias! Eat Asturias!

Q: Can you recommend places to eat for large groups of people?

A: Many many restaurants in Asturias, and Spain in general can accommodate large parties. Indeed, there are salas – halls – specifically for group dinners, though all will require booking in advance. My personal recommendation for large groups is to contact one of the cider makers profiled on this site and inquire about espichas. Many llagares have set menus at a reasonable price per person for large groups. These parties are very popular with locals, and are one of the best ways to become immersed in cider culture.

Q: Can we take our kids to restaurants in Asturias?

That is going to depend, in part, on how well behaved your children are, but in general, children are welcome in more places in Spain than in the States. That is not to say that Junior can run wild in a Michelin starred dining room, but in general children are welcome. The nicer the restaurant is, the more likely that people leave their children at home.

There are very few places with a children’s menu, and you will be expected to order something off the regular carta for them.

FAQs About The Website

Q: I found a typo!

A: Cool, let me know in the comments tab of that page, or shoot me a message and I’ll fix it.

Q: What about your newsletter?

A: I have a free newsletter that comes out monthly. The newsletter is a wrap up of the months posts, and sometimes includes some extra content just for newsletter subscribers. If you would like to, you can sign up here.

Q: Where can I learn more about the food culture and history of Asturias?

A: I maintain a Bibliography of all the books and article I use in the writing for this site. Many articles contain footnotes to the specific works used to prepare that article.

Q: What equipment do you use for the photographs on the site?

A: I shoot primarily with a Nikon D5300 on a Manfrotto 055 tripod and XPRO ball head. Most shots are with a Nikon 55mm f/2.8 AI-s lens. I shoot almost exclusively tethered to Capture One. For shooting outside the house, I prefer a Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G prime lens. I use Photo Mechanic for all my untethered shots. I shoot primarily with one light and all my props and backdrops are either dollar-store finds or self-made.