Spanish food is probably one of the tops reasons to visit Spain and definitely one of my favorite aspects of Spanish culture. As I’ve mentioned before, the meals here are served much later than in the U.S. (lunch being around 2:30 and dinner around 9:30 or even 10). I have also been fortunate enough to have been placed with a wonderful host mom who is amazing in the kitchen….even if she says she doesn’t like to cook.
If you have a sweet tooth, breakfast is the meal of the day for you! Every morning we wake up to a smorgesbord of bread/toast with nutella or jam, fruit, cereal, and cookies. Yes, cookies…..and three different kinds to be exact! One morning I walked into the kitchen and my two roommates were already eating and I noticed a new type of cookie on the table and asked if it was good and they’re response was that its was delicious with nutella. Nutella on cookies for breakfast….is that allowed?? I’ve found myself asking this same question many times over the last week and I am constantly suprised at what one is allowed to do here. However, when eating breakfast at a restaurant cookies usually aren’t on the menu but some popular items are tortilla española (a potato and egg dish) or toast with olive oil (which sounds odd, but is delicious).
Moving on to lunch. After a long morning of classes (if 11-3 still counts as the morning) I usually go back to my apartment for lunch. Traditionaly the largest meal of the day, lunch usually includes some sort of meat, a vegetable or salad, bread, and fruit for dessert. So far we have never eaten the same thing twice (something I’ve been pleasantly surprised about) and this dishes have ranged from potato and/or bean salads, soups, a variety of meat fillets, and rice or pasta dishes such as the famous Spanish paella...a seafood lovers delight!! Occasionally if we wont’t be returning home in time for lunch, my host mom will make us a bocadillo (sandwich) that normally consists of bread and only one topping (some type of meat or cheese).
Dinner in the home is very similar to lunch with the number types of dishes served and sometimos we’ll eat the leftovers from lunch as well. When eating out for dinner however, the tradition of tapas is still alive and well in Spain. Tapas bars are everywhere and serve small rations of a variety of foods (usually finger food) for dinner. The philosophy behind the tapas is that you don’t need to eat a lot of food at night since you will be going to bed soon…..however I’m puzzeled at how this thought process came about since people in Spain frequently stay out all night rather than going to bed after dinner.
One of my personal favorites so far is the coffee. I am a huge espresso fan and when you ask for 'un café solo' here that is what they give you! Café con leche (espresso with milk....so a latte), café americano (watered down espresso), and even café cubano (espresso, cream, and rum...yes, the Starbucks here serve alcoholic beverages) are also popular items here.
Unfortunately the internet is too slow right now to upload pictures but I will add some when I have a better connection.