Gastronomy is one of the most important parts of any country’s culture. Spain is characterized by a type of diet and meal schedules adapted to the climate and the Mediterranean culture. Spaniards usually have between 3 and 5 meals a day. The first one takes place in the morning and the last one 2 hours before going to sleep. Knowing what are the mealtimes in Spain and following them is a way to immerse yourself in Spanish culture.
What are the mealtimes in Spain?
The meal routines of any autonomous community in Spain are based on 3 main meals to which can be added another 2 milder ones. The vast majority of Spaniards follow these schedules automatically. For tourists or people who want to live or study in Spain these schedules can seem strange and sometimes even lead to some uncomfortable situations. It is not possible to have lunch or dinner in a bar or a restaurant at any time, the kitchen opens at very specific times. If we can’t make it in time, there’ll be only fast food establishments left, and maybe some of the few places that have the kitchen open all day, usually for tourists.
Breakfast, which consists of toast, fruit, pastries, juices or coffee, is usually between 07:00 and 09:00 in the morning. It all depends on the person’s work schedule.
The second main meal, lunch, takes place between 13:30 and 15:30. It usually begins with a first course that can be a salad, a soup in winter or a gazpacho in summer. The main dish is usually some meat or fish accompanied by potatoes or vegetables. Finally, there is a dessert which can be a fruit or a dairy product. This is the general pattern for lunch, but there are many variations such as introducing rice or pasta dishes.
The third main meal is dinner that takes place between 21:00 and 22:30. It is usually a little lighter than lunch and consists of salads or small meat and fish dishes. It is the last meal before going to bed.
Snacks and “merienda”
Morning and afternoon snacks (which is called “merienda”) complement the other three main meals. The first snack is usually at mid-morning, around 11:00 – 11:30 and the afternoon snack, merienda, is around 17:00 – 18:00. Both can consist of a piece of fruit, a small sandwich or pastry.
How to adapt to Spanish mealtimes?
At first, mealtimes in Spain may seem strange to you if you come from abroad, but over time eating at the same times as Spaniards will become part of your routine. These patterns are established according to the working day and the climate, so once you get used, they really make sence. Spain is one of the countries with the most hours of sunshine and nightlife is quite common here.
The best way to adapt is to live in Spain and follow the same schedule as most Spaniards. Dencanto Community offers immersion experiences in Spain, so if you are interested in learning Spanish and experiencing the Spanish lifestyle, don’t hesitate to contact us! Take a look at our website to find a Spanish course in Spain that suits you.