Spain is famous for many things – its beautiful beaches, its culture and, most importantly, its amazing food. The food in Spain is so amazing that the people of Spain have many culinary customs that should be followed and appreciated. From the sizes of dishes, to what is typically eaten and when, immerse yourself in the culinary customs of Spain when you visit this beautiful country.
While American breakfast is the most important meal of the day and often consists of pancakes, bacon, eggs and much more, Spanish breakfast, or ‘el desayuno’, is the lightest meal of the day and consists of bread and pastries. Determined to wake you up in the morning, café con leche is a typical cup of coffee that is drunk at breakfast time and is particularly strong with frothy and hot milk. Sweet rolls with jam or even crackers are usually eaten, and breakfast is a family event that is typically eaten at home before the morning rush to work or school.
Small plates or ‘tapas’ is a sort of mid-morning pre-lunch that has become popular all over the world. Normally consisting of what would be referred to as ‘finger-food’, tapas dishes can be hot or cold and are usually enjoyed with the company of friends, going to various different restaurants and trying the dishes on offer. There are countless amounts of tapas dishes available throughout Spain, and they often differ depending on the region and the time of year that you are visiting. For example, in the hot summer months, you will be likely to find more cold tapas dishes, such as melón con jamón (slices of melon wrapped in Spanish ham) or tomate aliñado (a tomato salad).
While in America lunch is generally quite a light meal as you don’t want to fill up before dinner, in Spain, lunch, or la comida, is the largest meal of the day. The main difference between an American Lunch and a Spanish lunch is that Spanish lunches consist of multiple courses and are typically paired with wine. You may be wondering how the Spanish are able to have such a large lunch, but in Spain, a lunch break will last between two and a half to three hours to ensure that lunch can be eaten, and it is often followed by a siesta or short nap. A typical Spanish lunch menu could consist of a choice of soup, roasted meats, vegetables or salad, ice cream fruit or pastry and various drinks like coffee or wine.
Typically a lighter meal than lunch, the opposite of American meal traditions, dinner, or ‘la cena’ is usually eaten late at night between the hours of 9 pm and midnight. A Spanish dinner usually consists of roast meat like chicken or lamb or fresh seafood and fish. A usual meal that is eaten at dinner time is white rice with tomato sauce and topped with an egg called arroz Cubano. Rather than a typical sit-down meal with a large party at a restaurant, Spanish dinners may be enjoyed by a group of friends who frequent different bars and restaurants, trying out food at different places rather than committing to one restaurant.
Use Culinary Customs to Immerse Yourself in the Spanish Language
If you were looking to immerse yourself in the Spanish language while you were on your travels, then make sure that you utilize the time you spend eating and enjoying Spain’s culinary customs to do exactly this. The Spanish language can be difficult to learn as different words can have the same meaning but must be used in different circumstances, for example, learning the difference between ser and estar and other similar tricky grammar rules can be difficult if you’re just studying out of a textbook, so make sure to practice your language skills while taking part in culinary customs. You can practice pronouncing the names of different dishes, trying to order completely in Spanish, or even ask waiters, waitresses or other diners to help you learn what each menu item translates to in English.
The culinary customs in Spain are as unique and beautiful as the country itself, so when your travels take you to Spain, make sure that you do whatever you can to fully immerse yourself in the culinary customs. By immersing yourself in the culinary customs, you will simultaneously immerse yourself in Spain’s culture and language, so make sure that you try to speak as much Spanish as possible in your culinary adventure!