This Is What A Full Day Of Meals Looks Like In Spain, And It'll Get Your Stomach Rumbling – TheTravel

When visiting Spain, this is what one can expect – it’s a full day of eating but we promise, your stomach will thank you for these dishes.
In Spain, food isn’t just a means of satisfying a craving, it’s also a way of life. Life very much revolves around food and mealtimes in this beautiful country, and the flavors of each traditional dish speak to that fact. While most people are familiar with the idea of tapas – or ‘small plates’ – as well as dishes like Paella and jamón, not many realize that a typical day consists of five meals.
When broken down, that’s two smaller meals, or snacks, and three main meals. Together, they create a fusion of Spanish flavors and ingredients, mingling together to make for a delicious meal routine. When in Spain, this is what a traveler can expect to be eating, especially if they’re leaning traditional.
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Breakfast, also known as el Desayuno, is actually the smallest meal of the day. This early in the morning, not many people are rushing to find a breakfast sandwich or gobble down stacks of pancakes as they would in the U.S. Whereas other countries make breakfast the main meal, Spanish cuisine dictates that the emphasis be placed on lunch and dinner, with smaller meals had appropriately in between.
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One thing that’s always present at breakfast is a cup of hot, strong coffee, known as café con leche, AKA coffee with frothed milk added. In regard to food, something simple, such as a roll – or bollos (sweet rolls) – is eaten alongside a coffee. These are often served with jam, while the alternative is a simple piece of toast served with jam or cheese. Sweet, citrus cookies known as magdalenas can also be on the menu for those with a sweet tooth. These are available in both bakeries and the grocery store; however, it’s far more common for breakfast to be eaten at home. It’s a quick meal and one that’s very small, providing just enough fuel until lunchtime and the lunchtime snack.
Between breakfast and lunch, one can look forward to tapas. These vary wildly in flavor, ingredient list, and style, and can be anything from an array of dips to omelets. It’s estimated, according to The Spruce Eats, that there are potentially thousands of different tapas that can be found throughout Spain.
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These small plates have slowly made their way around the world and now, many tapas-style restaurants can be found, especially in the U.S. Restaurants have found ways to incorporate them into their menus as snacks that are adequate, but not quite as filling as a full appetizer. In short, they’re the perfect in-between!
In Spain, lunch is known as la Comida and is the largest meal of the day, even overshadowing dinner. This meal is often served with multiple courses and wine and is quite a production when compared to how simple dinner is. Lunch usually lasts an hour or slightly longer, and this midday meal is designed to allow diners to settle down, relax, and enjoy their food and drink.
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Often, the order of courses for lunch would be as follows:
Following lunch, those living in Spain might follow up with a short Siesta between 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM, which is essentially a midday nap.
Between lunch and dinner, quite a bit of time passes – usually about six hours. Therefore, a small snack is had in between the two in order to tide one over until it’s time for dinner. Also known as la Merienda, this is usually served between 4:30 PM and 5 PM, and is especially popular with children who tend to be the hungriest before dinner.
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It’s usually something simple, such as a piece of good bread topped with something sweet, such as chocolate, or savory, such as chorizo or another aged meat.
Typically, dinner pales in comparison with lunch but is no less satisfying. It’s served late, around 9 PM, which means it’s also a light meal. Also known as la Cena, one can expect the portions that are served to be much, much smaller. These can include pieces of roast chicken, lamb, seafood, or even an omelet, and these are usually accompanied by a simple green salad.
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It’s light and refreshing and not meant to bog one down, since it’s not unheard of for dinner to be served as late as midnight in Spain. To follow, one might have a small dessert such as flan or fresh fruit. Traditionally, many activities take place at night in Spain and the city comes alive after dark. Therefore, it’s not entirely uncommon to see people heading out late at night, stopping for tapas, and continuing on to a show or club!
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Originally from New York, Katie is used to a fast-paced lifestyle. She got her personal start with writing in the second grade, and carried that passion with her until she won a spot in her high school’s published poetry book – but not before becoming the News Editor and columnist for the high school newspaper. In college, she majored in English Literature with an emphasis in Political Science, soaking up most creativity and method from one of the last professors to study under famed beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The more she wrote, the more she learned about the world and, more importantly, herself. She has been writing professionally and has been published since the age of 19, and for nearly a decade has covered topics in entertainment, lifestyle, music news, video game reviews, food culture, and now has the privilege of writing and editing for TheTravel. Katie has a firm belief that every word penned is a journey into yourself and your own thoughts, and through understanding this, people can begin to understand each other. Through her voice, she brings personality, research, and a bit of friendly sarcasm to every piece she writes and edits.


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