1 // At restaurants, don’t eat the bread before the meal arrives (or not ALL of it). Bread accompanies any good meal. It soaks up the sauce, is used as a “food-pusher” of sorts, and tastes good. With that being said, here, you very rarely see bread being eaten before the main meal arrives. It will sit on the table for awhile and then be consumed- and usually not in its entirety. Eating a roll or two before the meal arrives not only fills you up, but adds a lot of calories to a normally healthy meal. Also, side note, but Spanish people ALWAYS put the bread on the table, and not on the plate. They break off pieces and leave the rest of the roll or slice to the left, on the table. I asked Luis why, and he said….because? Notice the bread is still on the table in this photo:
2 // Eat slowly and savor your food. I find it funny that when you go to a restaurant in Spain, the chairs often sink back. It’s just not comfortable to sit forward and hover over your food. Sit back, relax, and savor. Dinner might be a little faster, but any proper mid-day meal will take a good two hours.
3 // Share with friends. I will write about this another day, but I think the only stereotype that has really “held up” is that people eat a lot of tapas in Spain. They do! And it’s not those tiny, expensive plates you get in “tapas restaurants” in the US where you pay a lot of money and leave hungry. These tapas can be small or large (large is usually considered a “racion“), but order a bunch, everyone has a fork and a drink, and everything is shared. I think it´s such a wonderful way to “share”- food, experiences, fun.
4 // Dessert is a rare occurrence, unless you consider yogurt to be dessert. Not including the menu del dia, which is a big meal at lunchtime, dessert is a pretty rare occurrence. They just don’t eat these big calorie and sugar-bombed desserts like we do in the US. Dessert after many meals is fruit or (maybe) a yogurt.
5 // Olive oil, olive oil, olive oil. They put olive oil on everything. Salads, meats, vegetables, rices, etc. No creamy dressings (usually). It adds so much flavor and gives you that radiant skin you want (hah). My favorite food has quickly become these huge salads, with everything from avocado, tomato, salmon, high-quality tuna, and lots and lots of olive oil. With a little bread on the side (see point 1).