Daily Bread – Food Traditions

Menu del Dia - A Food Tradition

By Nancy Todd

Just like the ebb and flow of the tides of the Mediterrean Sea, a typical day of eating in Spain swells and recedes.  The Spanish love their food, savor meals and breaks, and are in no hurry.  They love to hang out as is evidenced by the thousands of bars and restaurants.  Proud of their Mediterrean diet, food traditions include cooking with fish, wine, olive oil, chocolate, and wine.  And did I say wine?  On Sunday, all is quiet.  Families gather for meals.  People sleep in to recover from Saturday night partying.  Stores are closed and the streets are quiet.  In the summer on a Sunday, the beaches are packed and beach restaurants bustle.  Your Scoop Experts describe food traditions on  a typical day:

food culture in spain

Boqueria Market Restaurnat, Barcelona


Breakfast:  7-11.  The main course for breakfast is of course, delicious coffee. Another breakfast food tradition is a ham sandwich on a freshly baked baquette or a bad donut.  Flakey croissants are excellent especially those with chocolate inside.  Forget about pancakes and eggs over easy.  Sometimes you see people having wine or beer with their coffee.


Morning Break:  11-12.30.  People pour out of offices. Coffee and sandwich time again.   Schools have breaks for sandwiches.  Bars and restaurants are crowded.


Lunch:  2-5.  Your Scoop Experts knows well that this is bargain time.  Watch for the Menu del Dia sign, a black chalkboard in front of a restaurant.  Prices average 10euros.  Three or four courses are served and you have many options with each course.  Bread and a drink included.  Some restaurants serve a bottle of wine with each meal.  I love those three hour lunches and a bottle of red with friends.  Siestas after lunch are welcomed.  Stores close between two and five.


Tapas Time:  6-10.  Traffic picks up.  Motorcycles roar.  The work day is over and bars and restaurants fatten with chatting friends.  Coffee, beer, wine, and tapas are on the tables.  Folks shop the cheese stores, ham stores, and buy food for dinner.  Stores open till eight. 


Dinner:  9.30 – 12.  Yes, that is midnight.  Food traditions have it that some restaurants don’t open until 9.30.  In tourist areas, restaurants will be open earlier.  Some families eat a huge meal, others something light.  How do the Spanish stay so thin?  


Related posts on The Spain Scoop: Food in Spain   For unusual customs in restaurants, see our post on Restaurant Rules.

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  1. Posted July 20, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I had to smile. Even after 25 years of living in Spain I can’t live by these hours for eating! Eating so late at night, the food lies heavy and there is little chance to exercise, so it simply can’t be good, and it doesn’t feel good either! Hence each previous meal has to move backwards too. Trotting around the block with my dog the other evening I bumped into friends who were going into the restaurant opposite my home. Me, I was heading for bed. It was 10-ish, and since the restaurant is a grill, and knowing their tastes, they were almost certainly heading for steaks. I don’t know how they do it!

  2. admin
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I can’t imagine going to bed with a steak in my belly! If you’re going to eat late at least eat light!

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