Though Spanish cuisine has roots in Roman and Mediterranean cooking, influence from Jewish and Moorish settlers differentiates Spain's cooking from the rest of Europe. Later, Spanish conquistadores brought back numerous foods from the Americas that were then introduced to the rest of Europe, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and beans.
The Siesta—1:30 to 4:30 PM, when shops close down; restaurants stay open during this time but usually close from 4:30 to 9 PM.
The Spanish, like many Latin cultures, make the mid-day meal their biggest, stretching it out for hours. From midday to mid-afternoon, everything shuts down, except of course for the restaurants. Then, after this long, leisurely meal (and sometimes even a nap), they return to their workplaces and continue into the night. The evening meal is quite late—anywhere from about 9 PM to midnight. While most of us are not accustomed to eating dinner so late, you might consider indulging in the Spanish favorite, tapas, as a light supper, although no real Spaniard would ever do this. Tapas are snacks and dinner is dinner—even if it is at midnight!
Meals include the gratuity although tipping is customary, with 10% being quite substantial.
Restaurant hours: 1:00—4:30 PM for lunch; 9:00 to 12:00 midnight for dinner.
Menu del Dia—Not usually very exciting, this prix fixe meal is required of restaurants. Better to ask for the real specialties.
Like most Latins, Spaniards greet each other by a hug, an abrazo, and kissing on both cheeks. Same-sex hand holding or walking arm-in-arm is also common.
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This page modified January 2007
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