I was thinking tonight about the difference in eating habits here and how easily I have settled into a new pattern although there was much I found strange when I first arrived.
I want to try and describe those things which are typical rather than idiosyncrasies of this family I have joined.
Many people don’t eat too much first thing in the morning. A coffee and perhaps a little muffin or Madeleine will do.
Around 11am many people take a break called Esmorzar which translates as breakfast. Now is the time to have a sandwich or a pastry or croissant.
This is eaten much later than I was used to. I remember the first time a friend invited me to lunch with her at 3pm I thought all the restaurants would have stopped serving. But no – lots of people sit down to eat anytime after 2pm and before 4pm. This is the largest meal of the day and if you eat from the Menu in a restaurant (often the best way to get good value) you will have three or sometimes four courses followed by a coffee. The menu price includes bread and wine but not the coffee at the end. In many local restaurants the bottle of wine will be left with you at the table so you can refill your glass at no extra charge. But I think it would be thought rude and uncouth to just guzzle your way through the whole thing!
This is a little snack called Berenar which is taken around 6pm, and not everyone does it but it’s amazing how often you fancy a little something around this time!
This could be as early as 9pm or as late as midnight. When I first arrived, used to eating my main meal at the end of the day, I would cook something complicated for supper. Gradually i realised that it is fine to offer pizza or soup or a toasted sandwich. I like eating lighter at the end of the day and the late hour doesn’t bother me at all. This however is the meal most visitors complain about when they arrive. Having eaten their lunch far too early and not eaten enough, the stretch until 9 or 10pm feels unbearable to them and they end up making something to eat around 7pm and can’t understand why everyone else isn’t hungry.
I didn’t mention the siesta or migdiada or as it is called in Catalan. If you have the time and are in the right place there is nothing nicer than eating your full lunch then settling down on the sofa with a friend and perhaps a book, to rest and let your digestion do its work in peace. It is a little time out when I feel that god is in his heaven and all is right with the world.