*This is a post from my 2009-2010 blog I kept while abroad in Spain…as we are well into “cutting season” and giving up all sorts of things for Lent, I thought this post reflect so well what many of us may be feeling right now.
Among other cultural differences between Spain and America, the most difficult one for me to get accustomed to is the time of day to eat. Generally, the Spanish take 5 small meals a day: a very light breakfast, a mid morning snack, lunch, a mid afternoon/evening snack, and dinner at a time when most of us are ready for bed. Below is my general thought process surrounding food:
My stomach is rumbling. The cup of coffee and sobao, a lightly sweetened Spanish breakfast bread, I had at 8 in the morning are long gone. Breakfast in Spain is very light, consisting of little more than coffee and a pastry. In America, I would definitely fill up on scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice, and some fruit to go. Lunch, at its earliest, is at 2 PM. How am I going to concentrate in class when my stomach is participating in our discussion more than my mouth?
I happily discover a pear in my bag. It is gone within 2 seconds. This is my midmorning/afternoon snack.
Uh-oh, it appears lunch is scheduled for 3 o’clock. How does this country wait so long in between meals without fainting left and right in the streets?
Lunch. Lentil soup with white rice and bread, common Spanish fare. My favorite lunch habit is to dip my bread in my soup.
Stomach is complaining. It gurgles that it needs to be fed again. It says ” HEY! You know, I usually take dinner around 6:00 PM. You are way overdue.”
I meekly reply “What can I do? Dinner is not until 10 PM!”
“10 PM! That’s bed time!”
To satisfy their hunger in between lunch and dinner, the Spanish take a merienda, or a sweet snack and coffee. I have magdalenas, another sweet Spanish bread, almost like a cupcake without the frosting.
By now, I am ready to go to sleep. For dinner, we have white bean soup, more rice and bread. I thank my lucky stars I did not fall asleep and drown in my beans.
This is going to take some getting used to.
photo courtesy of http://salmonetesyanonosquedan.blogspot.com