The heavenly aromas oozing out of the kitchen window last Monday night led my senses to only one clear option for this week’s column: an in-depth look at my smorgasbord of Spanish dinners. Every day just before I sat down to eat, I snapped a photo of my entire dinner — the main dishes, side dishes, desserts, drinks and all.
Let me start off by saying that my Spanish mother, Maria, is queen of the kitchen. My first week here was like a marathon of eating. With weird time changes, I had to prepare myself for the bounty and richness of the meals.
Rarely do we eat before 9 p.m. and the average dinner times for the other students in my study abroad group and their host family span from 9 to 11 p.m.
For many, the day’s plans are centered around meal times, unlike many people in the United States for whom it is reversed.
The details of my meals depend on the day, but the they usually consist of a meat with a vegetable, a side dish of rice, potatoes or soup and a plate with an assortment of desserts typically including fruit, yogurt, ice cream or chocolate.
There is a never a shortage of beverage options either. Every night there is a vase of water, a beer, a Coca-Cola and, occasionally, some type of juice.
One new thing I’ve tried here worth sharing is a flavor of juice, “sandía,” which means watermelon in Spanish. Odds are I’ll be buying a little bundle of those to bring back to the U.S., granted my suitcase permits.
Journeying a few hours west of Seville, the weekend took me on a last-minute trip to the city of Granada. Instead of enjoying my host mother’s lovely home cooking, my final meal of the week was tapas in the Plaza Nueva. These included “tostada de jamón con tomate,” or toasted ham with tomato and “alitas de pollo con salsa picante,” or chicken wings with spicy salsa.
Dining out is a little different here as well. You do not leave a tip for the waiter, checks are seldom split and it is not unheard of to wait 25 minutes for the check.
Finishing in first place thus far as my favorite meal is “huevos rotos con patatas y jamón ibérico de bellota,” or broken, fried eggs with potatoes and acorn-fed ham. Although it was not technically one of my dinners because I enjoyed it at lunchtime, it was worth ordering two days in a row. Not to mention it was preceded by a killer cup of “café con leche,” or coffee with milk, which I’m a sucker for.
A few weeks ago, one of my roommates asked me what I’m most excited to eat when I return to the U.S. To be honest, other than my occasional craving for Mother Bear’s pizza, I am more than content with my new Spanish diet.
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