Random tips and observations about food in Spain:

  • At the grocery store, which resembles a medium-sized 7-11 to me, I’m the only person in line with more than 4 items in my basket. This feels odd since I’m only picking up a few things…
  • It can be very expensive to eat out for all of your meals. I always carry some snacks around (from a mini-mart or outdoor market). More importantly, be prepared to eat tapas as meals. This might be tasty cheese, sausage, ham, anchovies, deep fried fish, olives & capers, or croquettes. Order 2 or 3, and then see if you need any more.
  • Often you will pay different prices if you sit at a table versus the bar. I prefer to sit at the bar, mostly to see the tapas and watch the food being prepared. However, be aware that many, many bartenders are very busy, difficult to flag down, and generally seem discontent to bother with you.
  • Waiters will bring you bread (or rolls or some crackers), which will be billed to you if you eat it. Typically, it’s a Euro, but at one nice place, it was 3 Euros!
  • If you ask for water at a restaurant, expect to pay for it, unless you specifically ask for tap water (“agua de grifo”). And don’t be surprised if they look at you funny when you ask for this.
  • Don’t tip in Spain, although you can always round the bill up to the nearest Euro if you get good service.
  • Expect to make mistakes when ordering food. At one restaurant, while I was out of sorts, I asked for 2 eggs and ham. I thought the waiter was confirming the order by questioning the number of eggs, but instead he brought me 2 plates of eggs and ham…
  • The typical times for eating will throw you for a loop. Most places close for several hours during the day (siesta). Those timings vary by the region and the establishment.
  • Be prepared for pig, and lots of it! Coming from a Muslim country, where I only had pork 3xs (bacon for two brunches and ham at Christmas), it has been a salty adjustment.
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