While Northern Europeans prefer dark bread and Italians might have espresso or cappuccino with biscuits or croissants, Spaniards have their own preferences, according to the region and the climate.
Breakfast – El Desayuno
The Spanish word “desayuno” is the literal translation of breakfast and means that this is the first meal to be consumed in an Iberic home. In this case the meal can be sweet or sour, there is no real trend. While dark bread is not very common in Spain, toasts are highly popular. Normally these “tostadas” are served with olive oil and tomatoes, cheese or ham. According to the size of the bread, these sandwiches assume different names from “montadito” (the smallest version) to “pitufo” (literally “smurf”) you can find everything.
For sugar lovers a true highlight are the “magdalenas” (muffins) in all possible colours and sizes, prepared from scratch every morning in the bakery. These cupcake-like sweets are literally available everywhere and eaten also throughout the day.
Different regions and different traditions – Spain offers a menu of possibilities
While the Northern region Asturias is rich in cheeses, dairy products and also in pastries, its most common breakfast is coffee with one or two “pinchos”, which are slices of bread with something salty such as cheese or meat on top.
In the Capital of Spain Madrid, located in the very center of the country, the world is divided between “churros” and “porras”. These 2 different names stand for the same pastry. Whatever name you prefer, in Madrid you can’t stop having a cup of coffee or chocolate for breakfast with one of these two delicacies.
In Catalonia tradition is quite different, with scrubbed tomato bread, the most typical breakfast in that region. In fact, if you order a sandwich in Catalonia, it will be bread with tomato unless you say otherwise.
From the Balearic Islands instead comes a delight that has conquered all the bakeries and coffee shops in Spain: the ensaimada. This sweet bakery product is either traditional (which means empty) or stuffed (with cream, chocolate, etc.).
Café con leche vs. Espresso
Usually the food is accompanied with coffee with milk (“café con leche”) or espresso (“café cortado”). Tea and other drinks like orange juice are less usual in the traditional breakfast plan but they are normally served in every bar.
Breakfast or brunch?
Generally, breakfast in Spain is eaten at home, before dashing off to work or school. However, at around 10:30 am Spanish people traditionally have a second breakfast, together with their colleagues or friends, which simply breaks the morning routine and offers a moment of pleasure. When visiting Spain during your holiday, you might be impressed by the importance of this second “desayuno”, even in the biggest and most formal companies workers are granted about half and hour off, to fully seize the food break.
The later the better?
As you know, in Spain the timetable looks different than in Northern European countries. A normal office day would start at 9:30 am and finish around 6-7 pm. This means that all other activities such as meals are postponed in the same way. A typical Spanish lunch time would be between 2 pm and 3 pm, some people even have their lunch at 4 pm! The dinner time varies from North to South but an average time would be 10 pm. Quite late, uh?
That’s why the tapas are such a popular food, between 6 pm and 9 pm people eventually start getting hungry and they satisfy their appetite with small dishes. To know more about Spanish food tradition, join one of the Do Eat Better tapas tours in Spain.
We hope, you like this brief insight into the Spanish culture, whenever you are ready for learning more, visit our blog with weekly new articles.