Spanish Mealtimes & Eating Habits
A typical Spanish Day looks nothing like what we are used to here in the UK. No one can be more surprised than anyone trying to settle down in Spain. In the first weeks you practically do not meet a living thing, because the locals either enjoy a siesta, or are already at work, or only just arrived at home, etc.
The Spanish rhythm of life is so different from the British one. The Spaniards go for lunch when we would already be finished, paid for it, and even be gone. When the Spanish go for a drink, we are already in bed.
If you want to live like a local (whether you are settling down or visiting for a holiday), it's always good to know how to fit into the Spanish lifestyle and make the most of the Spanish way of life.
What Does A Spanish Day Look Like?
Desayuno ( breakfast 6 - 8 am )
For breakfast most people drink "café con leche" - coffee with milk, along with some toasted bread with olive oil or tomato.
Almuerzo ( 2nd breakfast 11am )
The 2nd breakfast is an ingenious invention that has taken place in Spain in an unprecedented way. Most employers offer half an hour off for the second breakfast, which most employees take. Often a second breakfast is just an excuse for another coffee, which is often done without any food.
Comida ( lunch 2 - 3.30 pm )
Lunch is huge in Spain. Most often it is a complete menu, including soup or other appetizer, main hearty meal and a dessert. The lunch break is usually an hour, because, as every Spaniard tells you, even a dog is not able to finish a meal in half an hour (ni un perro !!!).
Siesta ( lunch siesta 1-3 pm )
Siesta is especially popular in Andalusia, where it is so hot in the afternoon that there is nothing to do but sleep. You will come across it everywhere and it practically forces you to join in.
Merienda ( brunch 5 - 7 pm )
It's usually a light snack that helps you not to be starving before dinner. It often consists of a light baguette with jamon and tomato, yoghurt, fruit, and similar.
Cena ( dinner 10 - 12 pm )
Cena is the second most important meal after lunch, and in Spain it is true that dinner is never before ten o'clock. Spain is the only country in Europe (as far as we know) where dinner is so late and there are many theories about the origin of this wonderful custom, which we will reveal another time.
Fiesta ( fiesta 12pm )
In Spain, it is not uncommon for friends to meet at midnight at someone's house, and only then start thinking about what to do with the evening. This can mean that in the morning you can find a varied mix of honorable citizens ( having their morning coffee and toast ) and drunk survivors, who fought their way through the night until daylight.