Thus far, one of the most challenging and unique transitions I’ve endured whilst studying abroad pertains to the Spanish meal schedule. Unlike the hearty American breakfast I’m used to consisting of eggs, toast and a smoothie (food is important to me), the Spanish tend to eat smaller portions for breakfast similar to what I consider a snack. It is typical to eat something as minimal as a piece of toast with olive oil (‘tostada’) alongside a café con leche or tea before leaving for work. As a student I normally eat a bowl of cornflakes and a yogurt followed by a cappuccino to avoid feeling famished by the end of my second class.
After a long morning, then comes what Spaniards consider the most important meal of the day, a massive lunch around two in the afternoon. Lunches generally consist of some kind of sausage or ‘chorizo’, rice, potatoes or fish. Also bread, lots of bread, at every meal. After my first lunch in my homestay I quickly learned how to say ‘that’s enough’ in Spanish to my host mom after struggling to finish the mountain of paella she placed on my dish. The meal is then concluded with fruit such as a plantain or apple or in my case, another yogurt. Now so full it’s hard to move, it is time to digest and take a midday nap, the siesta. During this time most of the neighborhood stores are closed and open back up between four and six in the early evening. In Southern Spain, siesta time takes place during the hottest time of day which further discourages any motivation to be active after lunch.
Now rested and comfortable to start moving again, it is time (9pm) to meet up with friends and find a new spot for tapas. Tapas are small dishes customarily comprised of potatoes, bread or meats like ham or beef that are ordered throughout the course of a meal (to be shared with friends). Fortunately the food in Sevilla is pretty cheap and it is easy to score multiple tapas for less than five euros. If eating a meal at home, it is common (in my case) to have a bowl of soup served with a small salad and a substantial slice of fresh baguette (bread!).
Three carb-rich meals later, it is 11 o’clock and time to relax and refresh for a new day of eating. The search for the cheapest local tapas and the perfect cappuccino goes on.
(Pictured above: chocolate dessert from my favorite bakery down the street!)