Yes, I love Spain, especially Madrid. The city just has a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps me here. Like a moth to flame, burned by desire, my love for Madrid is blind. I won’t leave it. But, for your love of Madrid to stay and keep growing, there are some house rules that one has to understand and abide by, otherwise you’ll see yourself slowly losing touch whilst everything and everyone else around you keeps on moving like nothing is happening. There are many house rules I could inform you about, but if you love eating, this is the first thing you should know. So, read and take notes, it will save your joy and happiness one day.
First of all, forget what your mama told you, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day in Spain. I repeat, breakfast is not important. Breakfast usually consists of a beverage in the form of coffee, Cola Cao (similar to Nesquik but do not make that comparison out loud) and/or orange juice. This can be served with a croissant (toasted or not) with jam and butter, a piece of bread or two with ground tomatoes and olive oil and salt or a pincho de tortilla (Spanish egg and potato omelette). You won’t find waffles with bacon and maple syrup, or sausages, mushrooms, baked beans. NO.
Typically, you can find breakfast until sometime before or after 12pm.
Typical breakfast: Coffee, bread, jam and butter
This means, lunch does not start at 12:30. Therefore, make sure your are not hungry at 12:30 and about to make your way to a restaurant. The kitchen will be closed and no one will take pity on you. You will then start running around the city to find a place that serves what you are in the mood for, but most likely you won’t find it and you will then settle for something remotely resembling any of your original food wishes, eat it and kill your appetite. So, just don’t be hungry at 12:30, you’ll lose weight.
Now, lunch is the most important meal of the day. It is a colourful array of Mediterranean cuisine at its best. You always get a starter, main and a dessert, sometimes coffee too, at a very healthy price. (Check this article for pitfalls to be aware of at lunch). Lunch is typically served between 2 and 4pm. However, some restaurants will start serving lunch at 1:30. This you can enjoy because you actually get to eat well.
Now, what happens when, for whatever reason, you miss lunch, but are ready to eat around the 4pm mark? Don’t! The kitchen will have closed, you’ll be offered some type of tapa or pincho or bocadillo. Edible of course, but if you like eating, it’ll be a disappointing repeat of what happened at 12:30. You’ll lose weight. Good menu del dia does the job
Between say, 5/6pm and 8 ish, there is the option of having a merienda (afternoon snack). This is usually a cake of sort or a small savoury thing just to tide you over till dinner time, which is typically post 9pm. If done right, the merienda can be very enjoyable.
Finally, dinner is usually a light affair. However, you can always find a restaurant serving big portions of food, if that’s your thing. You might find that you’ll be better served if you make this a tapas occasion. Madrid has many great tapas bars that will keep you coming back. Sea salt potatoes, baked goats cheese with caramelised onions in rum Pulpo (Octopus) and Pimientos del Padron (Grilled Green Peppers)
Having said all of this, it is worth your while acquainting yourself with all the restaurants that serve food all day at your beckoning. If you don’t do this you’ll find yourself eating at restaurants such as V….. M….. B…. for lack of a better choice. Then, you will gain weight, and trust me, not even the good weight.