Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What you need to know pt4. Eating in Spain

The culinary experience in Spain is fantastic at best, (Apparently El Bulli which only opens for six months of the year is considered to be the best restaurant in the World by many) and salmonella inducing at worst (Anyone for mayonnaise on a pincho after a summer's day on the window of a Madrid bar?) However the basics that you need to know are the following;

1) The Menu del Día: It used to be obligatory (It may still be but I cannot find the link)if you were going to serve food at midday. Monday to Friday the Menu is very good value and usually involves three courses, a drink and coffee. It can cost anything from the 4.50 Euro Menu del Crisis currently very popular in the pueblos, to the 15-20 Euro more enticing nueva cocina in most big towns. You should be able to get a decent meal for around 8 Euros still.

2) It is always better value to go to a greasy spoon cafe and discover some part of an animal marinated in many types of tomato than to play it safe and go for the fast food option.

3) The Spanish eat late. Lunch starts at 2pm and will finish around 4pm and the evening meal will not start until 8.30pm at the earliest and usually, in Valencia for example, around 10pm or sometimes later in the summer.

4) The Spanish like to talk, and talk loudly, in restaurants. Kids are all over the place and adored. Get used to it.

5) In Asturias for example don't expect to do anything in the afternoon after a Menu because you will have eaten and drunk too much.

6) Bars and restaurants usually allow smoking even though it is often against the law. Places under 100m2 allow smoking if the note is on the door and places above 100m2 need two seperate areas for smokers and non-smokers (Take a tape measure with you) Apparently if you stick a hand written sign on the door saying you are allowed to smoke here then that is OK. (More info here)

7) Waiters are generally awful in many places (There are certain good ones but I am still to find more than a handful in Valencia) If you want service stand on the table and do a little dance.

8) The most unappetising sounding foods are often the best although desserts on the Menus are generally disappointing in most places.

9) Oh and real paella is chicken, rabbit, green beans and broad beans, no fish and no shellfish. Come to Valencia to get some.

10) If you have any more experiences then add them in the comments section....


  1. Fiona Pitt-Kethley10:12 AM

    Tapas routes are great fun and are starting op in many cities. There´s one starting tomorrow in Cartagena
    They give you a chance to sample new restaurants at 2 Euros a time.

  2. LOL. Love #7. So true!


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