During a visit to Spain you have undoubtedly noticed that Spaniards eat a lot later than we are used to, eating and food in Spain are different than we are used to. Lunch in Northern Europe starts at noon, in Spain you actually sit at the table at the earliest at 2:00 pm. Not to mention dining; if you enter a restaurant at 8:30 pm you are probably the first. While in Northern Europe most chefs are already cleaning the kitchen. Larger cities or tourist resorts such as coastal towns are more considerate of tourists, but in the interior of Spain you really shouldn’t expect to be able to sit down for dinner at 6am.
Tip: eat a warm meal at lunch time, and lots of it, then you can go on for a long time. And remember that taking a nap in the afternoon is perfectly normal; it’s vacation after all.
The Spanish kitchen is dominated by meat and fish, bread and/or fries are also always on the table. Vegetables, on the other hand, the average Spaniard does not seem to be fond of. Some of the reasons for the lack of vegetables on your plate could be; vegetables are expensive compared to meat, and in Spain it is also quite normal to only have the vegetables available that are in season at that time. One cooks with what is available, unlike things that grow in greenhouses.
Tip: if you want to get your daily dose of vitamins, have a nice salad beforehand (or as a main course; the portions are large enough) or have fruit for dessert. Often a restaurant has an orange, quarter of a melon or something else delicious on the dessert menu as desserts.
Food in Spain is a Social Affair
Eating out is primarily a social affair in Spanish. Not infrequently the tables in restaurants are filled with groups of people, whole families go out on Sunday afternoon to enjoy a meal together. Going on a date with a Spaniard almost without exception involves food. A lunch session can take hours. First, plates full of tapas such as ham and cheese are shared, and then everyone orders a large main course. After dinner, people often linger for hours with a copa. Besides a digestif on the house, a shot of limoncello or herbal liqueur, it is quite normal to have mixed drinks after a big lunch. Oh and being loud at the table is also common; the louder the guests are, the more fun they’re having!
Tip: do as the Spaniards do when it comes to ordering food in Spain. Have something small for breakfast or very early, so that there is room for lunch. Starters (tapas) are for sharing; a plate of croquettes is really too much as a starter for 1 person.
Enjoy your meal and enjoy!