WHEN IN SPAIN DO WHAT THE SPANIARDS DO…EAT no

My son is famous for his frequent Facebook posts of his latest cooking success or gourmet meal. His sister is not far behind.

So when our family had dinner recently with Bishop Don Carlos and his wife Doña Ana, our kids leapt from the dinner table to grab their phones when the Bishop walked in with an enormous paella . I found my phone too but I dispute that I leapt!

The Bishop, who was a cook during his army days, is a great cook and fantastic host, proudly told us that Ana had made the paella since she was from Barcelona, home of the most authentic paella.

Eating meals like this, it is no surprise that, no matter how many miles I walk, I rarely lose weight in Spain.

Getting used to the schedule of mealtimes in Spain takes some practice. It seems like it is always time to eat again.

To give you an idea of what I mean, let me show you ( with pictures) a typical day of eating in Spain.

Since very few places offer coffee before 7am, and coffee pots in hotel rooms are the exception rather than the rule, I don’t leave home without my portable kitchen.

This nifty zip lock box weighs less than one pound and has everything I need for eating and drinking on the road.

A collapsible silicone cup works for coffee and wine. The immersion water heater works like a charm.

If you buy one don’t take off the red label. That label reminds you whether to plug the gizmo in before or after you put it into the water in the cup. It’s AFTER.

When it boils, unplug it BEFORE you take it out of the cup. If you do it in the wrong order, the gizmo dies and that is the end of coffee at 6am unless you bring a spare which you will probably end up giving away to some other pilgrim who is tired of tap water coffee! Trust me. Don’t cut off the red direction label.

Starbucks makes coffee sticks which are light and take up very little room but they are really bitter without milk or sugar so you need to have a few cookies-milk chocolate digestives are the best – to sweeten things up. One cookie used to be enough but in my old age I need two.

Scissors are essential as it becomes increasingly impossible to open the little packets.

I throw in a few tea bags in the unlikely event that I have a short day and a corkscrew for wine after the typical long day and a knife for cheese in case I somehow missed a meal.

The cup does double duty and eventually between the coffee and wine it turns a revolting color.

The cover of the box makes a perfect plate; the box itself a decent bowl. With a spork (half spoon, half fork) and plenty of places to shop, every meal is covered.

After the wake up coffee, it’s time for Desayuno-anytime between 7 and 9am.

Now is when you get good your cafe con leché.

freshly squeezed orange juice,and a pastry or bread with butter and jam.

In some hotels there may be a buffet with meats, cheeses and fruits.

I am looking forward to two nights in the Parador in Santiago de Compostela where the breakfast buffet is legendary- every fruit, cheese, meat, egg, sweet, bread, two types of smoked salmon and if you are in a celebratory mood, help yourself to a glass of wine or champagne. But I digress, Santiago is over a week away.

Next on the eating schedule at about 10:30am is Almuerzo, a second breakfast or mid morning snack, the perfect time for a piece of tortilla or better “chocolate con churros ”, a sinfully delicious combination of fried dough sticks sprinkled with sugar, and hot chocolate, more like the hot chocolate pudding you were allowed to scrape out of the pan after your mother made old fashioned chocolate pudding from scratch.

Proust is not the only one who has evocative food memories!

La Comida or lunch between 1:30-3:30pm is usually 3 courses – a soup like my favorite Salmorejorecipe below given by chef or salad

followed by a either meat or fish.

Before and afteror a nice piece of suckling pig. All of the above is washed down by wine and or sparkling water.

Dessert is often flan but frequently chupito– a small shot glass of liquor that replaces dessert.

On the Camino del Norte, Barbara and I took quite a liking to Oruxo and went so far as to buy a bottle to help us sleep better!

Small wonder why after lunch it is traditionally time for siesta.

Moving up the calorie count, from 5- 7:30pm it’s time for Merienda– more coffee and a little sugar shot, usually pastries or a bit of ice cream

Just enough to hold you before Tapas around 8:00pm.

After all, you need something to sustain you until dinner, La Cena, which begins between 10 and 11pm, if you are still vertical.

Finally, about midnight you can go for Copas– liquors or a Spanish favorite, gin and tonic!

I have only made it to copas once or twice.

Usually I give out after Tapas unless we are on tour with Joanna!

So there you have it. A day in the life, the very good life, of your average Spaniard.

Too many more trips to this delicious in every way country and on my grave you will read…

“She ate well”

Until then,

Buen apetito y Buenos noches from Spain.

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