A major difference between Spain and the U.S. (outside of the language, of course) is the structure of meals here. Breakfast is usually very light- fruit, yogurt, toast, and tea or coffee. Lunch isn’t usually eaten until around 2 and it is a much heavier meal, similar to what we would do in the U.S. for dinner. People often return home for lunch from school or work to eat with their families. Around this time you’ll see lots of people walking the streets, but right after, there will be no one out for several hours. While in the U.S. dinner is the most important meal eaten with family, in Spain, it’s lunch. My host mom typically cooks lunch for my roommate and I. So far, we’ve had chorizo with lentils, pasta with salmon, a roast with pork, potatoes, and other vegetables, bocadillo, and paella. After lunch, my host mom has given us a variety of desserts to try as well. One of my favorites that I’d never heard of or seen before was mandarin orange slices with honey and cinnamon.
Dinner is eaten around 8:30 and is generally lighter than what we have in the U.S as well. In Spanish culture, it’s not traditional to host people inside your house, like it is in the U.S. Typically, people meet out on the streets to talk and hang out or go out to restaurants or cafes. A common thing to do for dinner is to go and get tapas with friends. Tapas are small bites that come in a variety of forms. Some of my favorites have been “tostada con carne,” or bread with meat, “croquetas,” little fried balls of meat, cheese, and a mashed potato type of mixture, and “patatas bravas,” fried potato slices with a sauce on top. With these tapas, you can get a drink, like a beer or glass of wine for around 3 euros. Getting tapas for dinner has been one of my favorite things- it’s such a great way to meet other people in my program, explore the city, practice the language, and immerse ourselves into the culture.