What can you eat and drink in Spain?
Eat and drink, Spain
 7 Oct '23
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Spain is a country with a rich and diverse culinary culture, where food is not only a source of nourishment, but also a way of life. From the hearty breakfasts to the late-night tapas, from the fresh seafood to the succulent meats, from the refreshing drinks to the sweet desserts, Spain offers something for every taste and occasion.

If you are planning to visit Spain, or just want to learn more about its gastronomy, here are some of the most typical dishes and drinks that you can enjoy in this beautiful country.

Breakfast

The Spanish breakfast is usually light and simple, consisting of a hot drink and a pastry or toast. Some of the most common options are:

Coffee

The Spanish love their coffee, and they have different ways of preparing it. If you order un café, you will get a café con leche, which is a milky espresso. For less milk, go for un cortado, while café solo is a straight-up espresso.

Chocolate or Cola Cao

If you prefer something sweeter, you can opt for a thick chocolate drink, either pure or mixed with milk, that is perfect for dipping churros or other pastries. Cola Cao is the most popular brand of hot chocolate milk in Spain.

Orange juice

Always fresh-squeezed, orange juice is a refreshing and healthy option for breakfast. It can be quite expensive though, as it doubles the price of your breakfast in some places.

Beer or brandy

Yes, you read that right. Some Spaniards like to start their day with a beer or a shot of brandy, especially on weekends or holidays.

Croissant or other pastry

The Spanish have adopted the French-style pastries, such as croissants, napolitanas (chocolate-filled pastries), or ensaimadas (spiral-shaped pastries from Mallorca).

Tostada

Toast is another common breakfast item, either made with sliced bread or rustic bread. It can be topped with jam, cheese, ham, or tomato and olive oil.

Lunch

Lunch is the main meal of the day in Spain, and it usually takes place between 1:30 and 4 pm. It is a social occasion, where people gather with their family, friends, or coworkers to enjoy a leisurely and satisfying meal. Lunch typically consists of three courses:

First course

This is usually a soup, salad, or rice dish. Some of the most popular ones are gazpacho (cold tomato soup), ensaladilla rusa (potato salad with tuna and mayonnaise), paella (rice with meat or seafood), or fabada (bean stew with pork).

Second course

This is the main dish, which can be fish, seafood, meat, or poultry. Some of the most typical ones are merluza a la romana (breaded hake), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), or cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig).

Dessert

This can be a sweet treat, such as flan (caramel custard), arroz con leche (rice pudding), tarta de Santiago (almond cake), or helado (ice cream). Alternatively, it can be fresh fruit or cheese.

Coffee and liqueur or brandy

To finish off the meal, many Spaniards like to have a coffee and a digestif, such as licor de hierbas (herbal liqueur), pacharán (sloe liqueur), or brandy.

Many restaurants offer a menu del día (menu of the day), which is a fixed-price set meal that includes two courses, dessert, bread, and wine or water. It is usually cheaper and more convenient than ordering à la carte.

Afternoon snack

The Spanish have a long gap between lunch and dinner, which they fill with an afternoon snack called merienda. It usually takes place between 5 and 7 pm, and it can be sweet or savory. Some of the most common options are:

Bocadillo

A sandwich made with crusty bread and various fillings, such as ham, cheese, tortilla de patatas (potato omelet), chorizo (spicy sausage), or calamares (fried squid rings).

Magdalenas

Muffins that are soft and fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. They can be plain or flavored with lemon or chocolate.

Tortitas

Pancakes that are thin and crispy. They can be eaten plain or with honey, jam, chocolate spread, or whipped cream.

Horchata

A refreshing drink made from tiger nuts, water, and sugar. It is typical from Valencia and it is often accompanied by fartons, long and thin pastries that are dipped in the drink.

Café con leche

A milky coffee that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Dinner

Dinner is a lighter and later meal than lunch, and it usually takes place between 9 and 11 pm. Many Spaniards prefer to have tapas for dinner, which are small portions of food that can be shared with others. Tapas can be hot or cold, simple or elaborate, and they can vary from region to region. Some of the most famous ones are:

Jamón ibérico

Cured ham from black pigs that are fed with acorns. It is considered a delicacy and it has a rich and nutty flavor.

Croquetas

Fried balls of béchamel sauce mixed with ham, cheese, chicken, or other ingredients. They are crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Patatas bravas

Fried potatoes topped with a spicy tomato sauce and mayonnaise. They are one of the most popular tapas in Spain.

Tortilla de patatas

A thick omelet made with eggs, potatoes, and onions. It can be eaten hot or cold, and it can be served plain or with bread, tomato sauce, or aioli (garlic mayonnaise).

Pimientos de padrón

Small green peppers that are fried in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. They are mild in flavor, except for the occasional spicy one.

Queso manchego

Cheese made from sheep’s milk in the region of La Mancha. It has a firm texture and a nutty taste, and it can be aged for different periods of time.

Boquerones en vinagre

Anchovies marinated in vinegar, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. They are tender and tangy, and they are usually eaten with bread or olives.

Tapas

If you want to know more about tapas consider to follow a workshop, cooking class, tastery or tour to learn more about the background and how to prepare. Back home you can surprise friends and family with your new cooking skills from Spain. Or if you rent an apartment in Spain, or have a second home, you can immediately start with Spanish cooking!

If you prefer a sit-down dinner, you can opt for a soup, salad, or pasta dish as a first course, and a fish, seafood, meat, or poultry dish as a second course. Dessert, coffee, and liqueur or brandy are optional.

Drinks

Spain has a wide range of drinks to suit every mood and occasion. Some of the most common ones are:

Wine

Spain is one of the largest wine producers in the world, and it has many different regions and varieties of wine. Some of the most famous ones are Rioja (red wine), Albariño (white wine), Cava (sparkling wine), and Jerez (sherry).

Wine

Take part in one of these activities and understand the importance of the wine culture for Spain.

Beer

Beer is very popular in Spain, especially in summer. The most common brands are Mahou, Estrella Galicia, Cruzcampo, San Miguel, and Ambar. They are usually light and refreshing lagers that are served cold.

Sangria

A fruity punch made with red wine, brandy, orange juice, lemonade, and chopped fruit. It is a refreshing and festive drink that is often served in pitchers.

Vermouth

A fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices. It is usually sweet and dark in color, and it is served on ice with an orange slice or an olive. It is a traditional pre-lunch drink that has recently become trendy again.

Gin and tonic

A classic cocktail made with gin and tonic water. The Spanish have reinvented it by adding different garnishes, such as cucumber, lemon peel, rosemary, or berries. It is a popular post-dinner drink that can be enjoyed in bars or at home.

As you can see, Spain has a lot to offer when it comes to food and drink. Whether you want to try new flavors or stick to familiar ones, whether you want to eat like a local or like a tourist, whether you want to splurge or save money, you will find something to suit your palate and your budget.

On your way!

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Spain today and get ready to experience its amazing gastronomy!

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