Eating Out in Spain

The Spanish are regarded as a passionate, family-oriented and deeply religious people, but did you also know that they are Europe’s foodie fanatics, spending more on food per head than any other nation in Europe?

When you consider how inexpensive it is to eat in Spain, this fact seems even more mind-boggling. Until, that is, you actually experience a true Spanish dining extravaganza for yourself – you’ll soon be hooked and will wonder how you ever managed without your daily dose of Spanish cuisine.

Spaniards’ attitude to food is extremely healthy. They do not obsess over calorie-counting or low-fat options, nor do they suffer from obesity epidemics, making the whole experience of eating in Spain so far-removed from life in the ‘Anglicised’ world that the two are almost polar opposites. That’s not to say that you can’t grab a quick burger in pretty much every town in Spain, but rather the mass-marketing that makes the western world’s questionable diet so ubiquitous everywhere else hasn’t really penetrated Spain. The big chains have tried but, faced with competition from locally produced, fresh, tasty and wholesome dishes in every corner of the country, they’ve admitted defeat.

Because of this, food in Spain is likely to remain rigidly traditional for many decades to come. Not great news for vegetarians, but in fact, recent years have seen many vegetarian restaurants popping up all around Spain, ensuring that herbivores are catered for almost as equally as their meat-loving amigos.

 

The Spanish are a very headstrong people so, despite their undoubted love for their own family and friends, they’re also always right. Bars and cafés are always full of Spaniards enjoying an after-work caña or a lunchtime glass of wine, and it’s also not uncommon to see people partaking of a morning sherry or brandy to set them up for the day ahead. Nothing wrong with that you might say, and most Spaniards certainly don’t see anything wrong with it either. It’s part of the lifestyle and it’s the right thing to do, they’ll say.

 

In terms of attitude towards alcohol, the Spanish appear to have a much more mature relationship with it than many northern Europeans. It’s cheaper, which is perhaps why it’s seen as less of a treat and more of an everyday thing. Spaniards grow up with wine at their table from an early age, so perhaps don’t really feel the urge to go out and get blind drunk at every opportunity.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, and the alcohol of Andalucía certainly allows for that. Spanish Rioja is among the most full-bodied of reds there is, and is often served chilled throughout Andalucía, with all classifications (joven, crianza, reserva and gran reserva) fantastically delicious. For a twist, the Spanish sometimes add cola to their red wine to create Calimocho; Fanta or Sprite to create Tinto de Verano, or fruit juices to create the iconic sangria. Sherrys and Manzanillas are also wonderfully crisp and delightful specialities of the region.

Then there’s the beer. San Miguel, Cruzcampo, Mahou, Alhambra – all Spanish, all excellent when chilled by the beach.

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