Of all European countries, Spain was not particularly known for its food for me. But within five months of living in Alcalá, I came to very much appreciate not only Spanish cuisine but also the way Spaniards eat.
Lily Moaba, New Jersey, USA
Adjusting to the schedule was a bit of a shock at first. The family I lived with ate a small breakfast of coffee with milk and a few cookies. Lunch was at three and was the biggest meal of the day. When I couldn’t wait until three to eat, my Spanish “mother” would pack me a merienda, or snack, to bring to school.
During break, many students would snack on bocadillos, or sandwiches, that they had brought from home. It’s not uncommon for the whole family to eat lunch together during the week: parents return home from work and students from school.
Lunchtime meals were often prepared well ahead of time by my homestay mother. Some of my favorites included zucchini soup, stuffed eggplant with morcilla, and delicious meatballs with potato purée.
At ten o’clock we ate dinner and it was usually less of a production than lunch. Sometimes we would just eat fried eggs with bread and vegetables, or my favorite, the Spanish omelet. For dessert, yogurt and fruit was common.
It’s hard to categorize Spanish food but if I had to describe Spanish home cooking I would say there is an emphasis on eating with the family, cooking what is in season, and using little if any processed foods.