Spanish Eating Habits
Spanish eating habits vary to those in the UK. Breakfasts tend to be as sweet as those in France, lunches as the main meal of the day, mid afternoon snacks and evening meals.
After living in Spain for a number of years you will come to the same conclusion - the Spanish people eat all the time, whether they are snacking or eating large meals. Eating is not just essential, it tends to be a social event to be shared with friends and family.
Bars are meeting places in Spain, a family social event, not just to see how many pints you can sink in a night. Children are welcome, Mothers gather after schools in bars, sipping coffee, eating pitufos and chatting over their breakfast. Teenagers gather with friends, drinking cokes, eating camperos (sandwiches) and talking for hours with their friends. Even if they are not in bars, they can be seen in parks gathered together eating Pipas (sunflower seeds).
Although some Spanish people frown upon drinking coffee after midday, many Spanish people drink coffee at all times of the day or night.
Ice Cream parlours are popular during summer. After spending the day together feasting on a long lunch, many come to Heladería where the family have the most enormous and extravagant ice creams (some even coming with sparklers).
El Desayuno- Breakfast
Breakfast in Spain is usually eaten around 10 - 10.30am. (Later on weekends). Bars are usually full around this time serving either Churros (Long donuts dipped in thick chocoate) or Pitufos. Pitufos are flattish toasted bread rolls which are filled with a selection of toppings. Many Spanish people eat Pitufos with olive oil and salt. During summer tomato and garlic pulp is spread across the toasted roll to make a refreshing breakfast. Other toppings include Serano Ham and Tomato, Ham and Cheese, Tuna and Omlettes.
During winter many elderly men and workmen drink a shot of Anis with their coffees.
Tapas - Small Spanish Meals
Tapas is eaten as an in between snack after breakfast, but before their main meal. Whether it is a small portion of meatballs or a few slices of serano ham, people will eat this with their drink. Spanish love tapas so much, they made a verb out of it. The phrase Vamos a tapear! means “Let’s go eat tapas!”
La Comida - Lunch
Lunch is the main meal of the day and is eaten at approximately 3pm. The meal is a three course meal consisting of a starter, main meal and dessert. Depending on where you are in Spain this can vary. In coastal towns fish tends to be the mainstay diet, together with chips or salad. Inland Spain will also depend on what is locally farmed. Inland Andalucia pork and chicken are usually on the menu. Vegetables are usually consumed before the main meal, either as a salad, or an appetizer. Many restaurants that do not cater for foreign tastes will not usually serve vegetables with the main meal other than potatoes.
The 'Siesta' usually comes after this.
Merienda - Snack
Spanish people will have their merienda at approximately 5pm - 6pm. As dinner is not served for another 4 hours, this snack is usually served for children who are more active and expend more energy. Typical snacks include Bocadillos (Bread Rolls) filled with cheese, serano ham, chorizo, or tortilla (Spanish potato omelette).
La Cena - Dinner
This meal is usually smaller than lunch, but still a large meal by English standards. A dinner might include fresh fish or seafood, chicken or pork, fried potatoes or rice. A simple and quick dish, commonly eaten at dinner is arroz cubano, which is a mound of white rice, topped with tomato sauce and a fried egg. Green salad and/or a vegetable dish are standard at lunch and dinner. A lighter dessert of fresh fruit or flan (Spanish vanilla custard) may also be eaten.