The Spaniards do things quite different from Americans. After living in Sevilla for 3 months, I have come to love the little things that characterize the Spanish lifestyle.
1. Coffee is enjoyed in the moment.
Americans are accustomed to drinking coffee on-the-go, but you will hardly ever see a Spaniard walking around with a cafe con leche in hand. Drinking coffee is a social activity here that is paired with the conversation and company of others. For about 1 euro (give or take) you can order the classic cafe con leche: espresso with whole milk served in a mini-mug or glass.
2. Bread + Olive Oil = Breakfast.
Breakfast in Spain is half the size of that in the US. In the mornings we warm a chunk of bread in the “sandwichera” (kind of like a George Foreman panini press) and smother it with Spanish olive oil. My host-mom has been buying bread from the neighborhood “paneria” (bread shop) about twice a week for 20 years. She knows exactly what time to go there to buy the bread that’s fresh out of the oven.
You’ll also find “tostada” with fresh tomato paste or jamon. The combination of soft bread with a crispy toast, locally produced extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomato spread, and salty aged ham is golden.
3. Meals are shared together, always.
Families wait to eat lunch together almost every day of the week. I love that although people may have sports, activities, work and meetings, it is so engrained in the culture to break bread together as often as possible. It was a beautiful reminder to me that sharing meals with those you love should be a priority no matter how crazy a day or week may be.
4. It’s often cheaper to order beer or wine than water or soda.
Spaniards rarely order water, and if they do it’s usually carbonated. “Un tinto de verano” (wine with a dash of orange or lemon soda) or “una cerveza” (beer) is basically the same price and obviously way more worth the money!
When Spaniards drink beer, they drink it icy cold. It’s popular here for groups of young people to go to bars that sell inexpensive buckets of beer. For only 3 euro, you can get 5 cervezas! Smoking deal.
5. Dinner portions are smaller and are eaten later.
When Spaniards say they are going out for dinner it means they are going out for appetizers or “tapas.” Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, so evening tapas are the perfect way to sample a few small plates with some drinks at the end of the day. “Mondatitos,” or tiny sandwiches, are a popular tapa. My favorite montadito so far is made of a slice of tender beef, a slice of jamon (Spanish ham), sautéed green pepper, salmorejo (tomato sauce spread) and freshly warmed bread. Don’t forget potato chips and a beer!
These are just a few things that make me grateful to be learning from the Spanish way of life. I can’t wait to incorporate these, and more, into my American life back at home in January. Time is flying by so quickly, I just wish it would slow down!