Spanish Meals & Customs

The Spanish have a great passion for food. They simply love to eat! Eating is so much part of the Spaniard that a meal for them is really a glimpse of their rich and vibrant culture. spanish meal

Spanish cuisine and meals are among the world’s most fascinating and out of the ordinary. Their eating habits are unique and take some getting used to. This is probably because their meals are eaten in what may be considered odd hours. Eating hours are more freely defined.

Here are some information to help give you an idea of their eating habits and meals.

Breakfast (El Desayuno)

Breakfast in Marbella and the rest of Spain is more of a snack, quite literally, just a bite to eat.

- Forget hearty breakfasts. Breakfast in Marbella is usually composed of some toast or a croissant and coffee.
- Mind you, when we say “toast”, it is not like the continental style where it is served with butter and jam. The Spanish usually put a pureed mix of olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes or just plain olive oil in their bread. It takes some getting used to, but it sure beats fried eggs and toast with butter and jam when it comes to having a heart-healthy meal.
- This is usually taken at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning.
- Churros is also one option – the deep friend fritters are sprinkled with sugar or dipped into your coffee or into hot, thick chocolate drink.

Coffee Breaks (El Café)

At around 10:00 to 10:30 in the morning, don’t expect people to be in their offices. They are downstairs, sitting at a café, having their coffee. Coffee, after all, is an intrinsic part of Spanish culture.

You may go for the following coffee choices:
- Café solo: Expresso to jumpstart your day
- Café cortado: Expresso with some milk – if you want it a bit milder
- Café con leche: Expresso with a lot more milk – Spanish coffee may be too strong for your taste
- Café Americano: As the name suggests, this is not for the typical Spanish coffee-drinker. This is for those who find Spanish coffee too strong. It is a watered down version of their typical coffee.

Lunch (La comida)

This is the main meal and this never starts at 12:00 noon, more like 2:00 in the afternoon. It is equivalent to what Americans consider as dinner.

- This meal will have several courses, usually three.
- The first course is light – composed of a soup or a salad.
- The second course features a “heavier”, more filling dish – usually fish or meat.
- Dessert follows – this may be piece of fruit, a sweet pastry or cake, or a Spanish flan.

Tea time (La Merienda)

- The Spanish usually stop for coffee and a light snack – elevenses, if you will.
- This is taken around 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Be sure to take your merienda, it will sustain you until dinner, which is usually served late in the evening.

Dinner (La Cena)

Dinner is a late affair, starting at around 8:00 in the evening and may continue until midnight.

- This is a much lighter meal, usually composed of a salad or a sandwich.
- Sometimes, dinner means a selection of tapas. Tapas are small portions of different kinds of food. These are eaten standing up and normally accompanied by a glass of beer or wine.