Soul food: Meet Flor, the dine at home host who cooks from the heart

Soul food: Meet Flor, the dine at home host who cooks from the heart

Soul food: Meet Flor, the dine at home host who cooks from the heart

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Discover more about flavorsome food experiences with a Dine at Home lunch in Gijón, with soul food cook, Flor. Here Flor shares recipes learned in her grandmother’s kitchen and tells stories of local life as travelers join her around the dining table for a memorable meal.

Food is a key ingredient of any holiday. For many, it’s the main focus as it helps you discover more about your destination, hinting at tales through the textures and flavors. On every Insight Vacations tour, we include deliciously authentic dining experiences so our guests can taste traditional dishes and learn about the traditions of the country they’re visiting.

“I grew up very close to here,” says Flor of the fertile landscape of Asturias, Northern Spain. “I used to watch my grandmother and mother cook. Our natural resources here are so good – fresh fish from the ocean, an abundance of vegetables and award-winning beef and cheese. As a child, you don’t even realize this; it’s just part of life.”

Asturias lends itself to excellent produce, from the Bay of Biscay where crab, sea bass and prawns are plenty, to the sloping hillsides where the cows graze during the summer months. Orchards are everywhere, with their fresh scent floating on the balmy breeze. The limestone caves of the Pico de Europa National Park are the cool environment where over 50 kinds of artisanal cheeses are aged. Recently, Cabrales won a Guinness World Record for the most expensive cheese sold at auction, such is the demand for its distinctive, pungent flavor.

Flor describes fabada, a perfect example of soul food that she serves, and “a recipe that hasn’t changed for generations”. This white bean and pork stew gently cooks for hours and is a staple dish throughout the region. Although people compete in an annual competition for the best fabada, Flor smiles knowingly, confident that her grandmother’s recipe is the best.


Flor took an unexpected route to becoming a soul food chef – she actually trained as a lawyer and spent time working as a trader. “Cooking was a hobby for me. I was passionate about it, but I didn’t expect to make a career from it.”

She spent time working away from Gijón, but would return to spend time with family. Many happy memories were made around the table, as well as spending time in nature, walking among the farms. She longed for the simpler existence that people have in the coastal city, where the land and animals are valued, even by the youth.

After the financial crash in 2008, Flor and her husband decided it was time to pursue an easier pace of life. They moved back to Gijón and she began cooking regularly, first for friends and then for events.

“A friend of mine has this beautiful theater space in the center of Gijón. She began running immersive evenings with dinner, comedy and improv for single people, where everyone would get involved. I learned how to cook for groups of people, sometimes up to 25 in one sitting.”

Her devotion to gastronomy was further fuelled by exotic trips to Thailand and India, discovering the many spices and methods used in cooking. Flor remarks, “in fact, I found that the ways that dishes are prepared is similar to here in Asturias – the main difference is the spices used.” She also mentions bringing home suitcases of spices to experiment with in her own kitchen.

In 2016, Flor achieved a formal chef qualification, but she declares, “this was simply following what I want to do,” in contrast to her earlier studies.


Flor explains how all of the food prepared for Insight guests comes from people she knows locally. “We have an old system, like barter. If I have good apples I trade them for my neighbor’s lemons or green vegetables. Another neighbour brings fresh beef from the mountains and I buy that. My visitors enjoy that, knowing the exact provenance of the ingredients – they can taste the difference too.”

The stories we tell about where we’re from and where we’ve traveled are all part of the experience. While sharing good food around my table, we learn insights which contribute to better understanding of different cultures.”

She believes in the importance of providing a hearty meal to travelers after their journey and over a fresh glass of cider, she brings out organic cheeses from the region to try. Flor loves when visitors ask her soul food cooking tips and says that, “it’s about preserving the rural essence of our surroundings. Learning about slow food, which is simply a modern term for the way we’ve been cooking here in Asturias for a long time.”

Join Flor for a unique Insight Experience at her home in gorgeous Gijón on the Northern Spain tour.