Spanish Meals 101 – API Blog

Today’s post comes to us from API Student Blogger & Pacific University student Tera Cafro! She’s just wrapping up a semester with us in Seville, Spain. Over the past several months, she’s been able to try all kinds of delicious Spanish meals. Get ready to get hungry as she dives in to her favorite Spanish meals abroad!

API student blogger Tera Cafro with one of her Spanish meals

Eating in Spain is one of the most enjoyed activities in the day. Whether eating at home for lunch with my host mom or enjoying some tapas out with friends, it is always relaxing and fun. In fact, most of the time, my entire schedule is planned around meal times. On an average day, lunch is around 3:30 and dinner is around 10:00. I don’t eat much for breakfast, if anything I will eat a slice of toast with cheese spread on it along with a small cup of tea.

Coffee & toast for breakfast in Spain

However, Spanish lunch is very different than in the United States.

It is one of the biggest meals of the day. Lunch is usually served in three or four courses. My host mom will cook some sort of soup, salad, or pasta first. The second dish is usually a meat or fish such as chicken, pork, tuna, or ham or hotdogs. The third is a yogurt, pastry, or piece of fruit. She doesn’t allow phones at the tables, but here is a pictures of us on a night out.

Tera Cafro and her "host mama"

One of the first foods I tasted in Spain was Paella.

I had just met three girls in my program and after touring the Royal Palace of Spain, we had a break for lunch. We stumbled upon a small door that brought us into a semi-formal restaurant. There my friend, who had been to Spain before, knew what to order off the menu – which was nice because I didn’t! We shared a huge Paella (below) the size of a large pizza along with patatas bravas. I remember not knowing what to do with the crawfish served on top of the rice. I watched as my friend broke open the shell to dig the meat out from inside and I did the same.

Paella, a popular Spanish meal

There many types of seafood in Spain that are not as common in US menus such as octopus, squid, calamari, and eel.

pulpa, a popular Spanish mealsOne of my favorites is pulpa which translates to Octopus in English. It’s usually cooked in a buttery sauce or seared. This particularly dish I had when my mom visited me in Barcelona. It was served with a potato purée under it and it was good good I wanted to lick the skillet.

Another Spanish staple that you will see on most menus is Jamon Iberico. It is essentially thinly sliced pieces of chewy meat. It usually has a texture that is comparable to salami yet the flavor itself is less salty. I enjoy eating the Jamon but usually along side a piece of bread, a slice of melon.

Cafe con leche in Spain

My favorite “pick me up” drink is a cafe con leche which is essentially an espresso shot with condensed milk mixed in. I honestly have probably had over 30 of these this semester and that’s really not much compared to some of my friends who drink 3 a day.

Gazpacho, another popular Spanish meal

The food that I was most apprehensive about coming to Spain was Gazpacho.

When reading information from API about Spanish meals before coming abroad, I read the description “cold soup” and was absolutely disgusted. I pictured cold Campbell’s Tomato soup! However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is a refreshing summer time blend of cucumbers, peppers, more like a juice consistent than a soup and it really does the trick when it’s 90 degrees outside.

Spanish patatas

Spanish meals often include potatoes, which are not called “papas” as they are in many Latin American countries. Instead, they are called “patatas”. In the picture above are hot crispy potatoes soaked in “brava sauce”. I think they are delicious and a perfect go to snack to share a plate full with friends.

huevos con jamon

My favorite dish has to be Huevos con Jamón. Most simply it is a fried egg over crispy potato slices and sometimes served with crispy slices of bacon, or ham. This dish always feels like you are having a home cooked meal.

chocolate churros, a sweet Spanish meal that hits the spot

The absolute best anytime of the day snack is churros con chocolate.

A slightly different version of the Mexican churros, these churros are not coated in sugar and are instead dipped in a rich hot chocolate. One of the sweetest thing my host mom did was take me and roommates out for churros for my 21st birthday.

Food in Spain is so much more than a quick drive through meal.

In fact, it is quite the opposite. All Spanish meals are enjoyed slowly with the intention of making time every single day to spend quality time with people that matter.

Until next time Spain! I will miss your jamon, seafood, and fried eggs!!

 

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