✎Video recipe: you’ll find a typical dessert at the end of this entry
PODCAST: read and listen to this entry at the same time (you can find the Spanish text here)
In Spain, we have five meals per day and the Mediterranean cuisine or diet is the most traditional one in the country. Three of the meals are considered the main ones, i.e. everybody is having them, while the remaining two are secondary and not everyone is having them.
Let’s start with breakfast. In Spain, like in most countries, we have breakfast in the morning after getting up. The time depends on work, but in general it’s between 7 and 9 o’clock in the morning.
Breakfast consists normally of sweet things. For an adult it’s very common to have a coffee with milk while for a child it’s milk with chocolate. This is accompanied by confectionery: muffins, croissants, sponge cake, etc. However, it’s also very popular to have toasted bread with olive oil and tomato.
After breakfast comes almuerzo. Almuerzo can be seen as a second breakfast or a snack between breakfast and lunch. Pupils always have this meal. In the schools or high schools there’s recess at around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. and they are usually having a sandwich or some snack. Adults typically do this as well (depending on work) and they normally go to a bistro or sit down in a park to have a “tapa” or a sandwich, maybe some fruit. This meal is small because the main meal comes afterwards.
The main meal of the day
At around 2:00 p.m. it’s time for lunch.
Lunch is the main meal of the day. Often there’s a first course, e.g. a salad or soup and afterwards there’s the main course which can be a rice dish, a dish with meat or fish and vegetables or potatoes, a legume stew, etc.
Did you know? Those that cannot return home for lunch because the workplace is too far away and they won’t have enough time go to a bistro or restaurant. Here, the menu of the day is very typical. In the bistros there’s an inexpensive menu consisting of first course, main course and coffee or dessert. In general, the menu includes traditional dishes like something you would also prepare yourself at home.
And the children? If they can’t go home for lunch they can stay and have lunch at school. There’s a canteen which offers a menu of the day. Usually, you have an overview of what’s on the menu for the whole month. These menus contain traditional dishes the children know and which are adapted to their nutritional needs.
In the afternoon
When afternoon arrives at around 5:30 p.m. it’s time to have the merienda. What’s the merienda? The merienda is a snack you have between lunch and dinner, which in Spain is eaten much later than in the rest of the European countries. Mostly children are having the merienda. For this they mainly have a sandwich, fruit or yogurt, but more and more children are having confectionery, cookies and processed products, which causes that more and more children are overweight.
The same as in other countries around us, this is something happening in Spain. Even though the Mediterranean cuisine is the traditional one, at the present more and more processed products are consumed, which is causing a lot of problems in regard to overweight and health. Furthermore, the customs and traditions slowly fade away.
Now comes the final meal of the day
The final meal of the day is dinner. At what time do we have dinner? In Spain we tend to have dinner quite late. Dinner usually doesn’t start before 9:00 p.m. That’s the earliest time we start dinner. However, taking a chance, I’d say that most people are having dinner at around 10:00 p.m. Dinner is much more light than lunch and the quantity differs a lot as well. Some people have bread with cold cuts, fruit or a salad. Others prepare a dinner a bit more elaborated with fish and vegetables or a piece of meat, maybe a revuelto (scrambled eggs with other ingredients). However, if we go out for dinner with friends, the typical thing to do is to go and have tapas.
I’m sure you wonder at what time we go to bed. Well, here in Spain we usually go to bed quite late. I would say that on average we turn in at around 11:30 p.m., but of course there are people that hit the sack much later.