The Top 6 Eating Habits of The Spanish

The Top 6 Eating Habits of The Spanish
A family lunch in Spain

Sitting down to a family meal in Spain.

On 23rd February 2013 this article did the rounds on the internet, generating a lot of debate.  You can read my follow up post to the comments here.

If cultural observation is one of my favourite sports, then there is no better arena than the dining table.  Travellers’ tales are full of eating-related anecdotes.  How many times have you heard the story about the visitor who offended his or her host by burping, or not burping, by putting his or her elbows on the table, by arranging cutlery in a cross rather than parallel – the list goes on and the potential pitfalls for the culturally ignorant diner are numerous.

Eating in Spain, as you can imagine, is steeped in tradition, culture, habit and simple everyday repetition.  Even so, the possibilities for causing offence are probably less prominent here in Spain than in other, more sensitive, cultures (unless you should dare start eating before everyone has their food – that’s a big faux pas).  So, rather than an etiquette guide, this is more like a list of observations of the Spanish in their natural habitat – enjoying a good meal with friends and family.  They are small, mostly completely insignificant details – points I’ve picked up on over the years as an Englishman living in Spain.  If you’re sensitive to national stereotyping and stuff like that, perhaps don’t read on – this is lighthearted stuff, meant for a laugh and a bit of discussion.  Nothing more.

1. Bread

A piece of bread is the third cutlery utensil after the knife and fork in Spain.  If you want to stop a Spaniard from eating, just don’t put any bread down next to his plate.  Spaniards will eat bread with anything and everything, including heavy carbohydrate dishes like pasta and rice, even with dessert on some occasions.  Only in Spain did I discover the joys of bread and chocolate – not chocolate spread, but a piece of chocolate served in what is basically a sandwich.  Chinese restaurants in Spain have baskets of bread available for customers.  All ‘Menu del Dia’ include bread.  Spaniards just don’t eat without bread.

2.  Napkin

If bread is the most essential item on the table at a Spanish meal, it is closely followed by the humble napkin.  “A napkin,” you say, “what’s remarkable about that?”.  And indeed, you’d be right.  A napkin is obviously useful for wiping all that mess of your face as you tuck into your tasty meal.  The thing is though, napkins are not part of the day-to-day eating habits of the English.  OK, maybe you get a napkin at a nice restaurant.  And maybe at Christmas your mum would buy some pretty red and gold napkins for the table.  But for everyday meals, in my house and in every other English household I ever visited in 25 years of growing up and living in England, napkins are not provided.  Why should a Spaniard need a napkin whereas English diners can do without?  I ask my Spanish wife this same question all the time.  It fascinates me.  She and almost every other Spanish person I have ever met seem genetically incapable of eating without a napkin.  They are constantly wiping their mouths in between every mouthful.  If a napkin is so necessary in order to maintain hygiene whilst eating, we have to ask how the English are able to do without one on such a regular basis.  Do they just resign themselves to having a dirty mouth throughout a meal.  Some anecdotal evidence suggests that might be the case.  One Spaniard I met, who had also noticed this little napkin-based cultural imbalance, maintains that the rims of glasses of English diners tend to get very dirty and smudged whereas Spanish glassware remains sparkling throughout a meal as every sip is taken with an immaculately clean mouth.  This actually really bothered him.

3.  Water / Agua del Tiempo / Mixing water

So whilst we’re on the subject of drinking whilst eating, let’s talk about water.  The Spanish do not eat without water.  In my experience, in England, there is some variation family to family on this.  Some families do tend to drink water with lunch and dinner, but a large proportion, if not the majority, wash their food down with all manner of other rubbish – juice, orange squash, coke, beer etc.  These drinks are aperitifs in Spain – they don’t appear at the dinner table (except, perhaps, on special occasions?).  The most you will find beyond water is a bottle of wine, but almost certainly not beer.  Water is always still, and mostly from the tap too, but it is always, always served – there is no variation across families here.  The other little detail that has always fascinated me about how the Spanish take their water is the issue of temperature.  When you order water at a bar in Spain, you’ll be asked “Fria” (cold) or “Del tiempo” (literally ‘of the weather’, actually meaning ‘ambient temperature’).  Many Spaniards don’t like their water too cold, so don’t want it straight out of the fridge.  At family meals, there is even a solution to this dilemma, a practice which I have only ever observed in Spain: mixing cold water from the fridge with ambient temperature water.  So if you see two jugs of water at a table in Spain, one with dripping condensation down the side and the other without, you’ll now know why.

4.  Sobremesa

As a foreigner, the most common error I think I have tended to make at Spanish meals is getting up more or less immediately after having finished eating.  Let me tell you, this is just not done in Spain.  The sobremesa (the period after eating where you stay at the table for an extended chat) is sacred.  This has been quite hard to assimilate for me.  I’m quite fidgety, so when I finish eating, I like to get up and have a walk around and just generally carry on with my day.  My wife, being Spanish, needs at least 15 minutes after finishing to come to terms with the fact that the meal is over.  During this period, if we are alone and eating out, I tend to play with my iPhone.  The sobremesa in Spain, at weekends or festive periods, can drag on for so long that it is not unusual for lunch to actually transition into dinner without any perceptible activity in between.

5.  3pm is Lunchtime

I have often thought how chronologically regimented life is in Spain – more so than any other country I have visited does the entire population tend to do everything at exactly the same time.  I  believe that in England, lunchtime is anywhere from about 12 noon to perhaps 2.30 pm.  Go out onto any English high street at 12 and you will see plenty of people, the same at 1pm and the same at 2pm.  Go onto a typical Spanish high street, even at the weekend, at 3pm and you’ll see noone, probably not a single person.  Why?  Because they are all, literally all, eating.  3pm, you see, is lunchtime in Spain.

6.  Telediario

And at 3pm, another national institution starts up – the telediario (news).  Although the Spanish are famed as social eaters, which is largely very accurate, a typical Spanish lunch is incomplete without Lourdes or Mati blaring away in the background.  Not that people tend to take much notice of what is being said – in general it’s just background noise.  From time to time Dad will hush everyone if something of particular interest pops up, but really it’s not until everyone has finished eating and coffee is being served that everyone starts to pay attention – los deportes have started!  Or rather, the Real Madrid/Barcelona half hour.

Followed by the weather: hot in the south, cold in Leon, Burgos and Soria, and raining in Galicia and Asturias.

Just another typical lunchtime in Spain.

Follow Ups to This Article

About Jonathan

I'm Jonathan Pincas - creator of Spanish Food World and founder of UK Spanish food importers The Tapas Lunch Company. I'm a foodie entrepreneur, writer and photographer and since 2005 have been involved full time with Spain and its wonderful food - whether that be sourcing new products, writing about it here or even taking photos of it!


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252 Responses to "The Top 6 Eating Habits of The Spanish"

  1. Juan Luis Esteban  26 September 2012 at

    I had a good laugh! You nailed it :) You forgot the habit of speaking about food while eating. We tend to discuss a memorable meal at the table…

    • Jonathan  27 September 2012 at

      That’s an interesting one – hadn’t thought of that. If I get some feedback on this article, perhaps there will be enough ideas for a ‘part 2′.

      • Gaynor  23 February 2013 at

        Great article! I’m also married to a Spaniard and yes I agree that you’ve nailed it! I would add….bread is not generally eaten on a sideplate and crumbs are very sociably acceptable!!! It drove me mad for years, now I’m as ‘crumby’ as the next Spaniard!!
        The sacred ‘hora de siesta’ has to come in part 2, don’t phone anyone or go to see them till at least 5.30 (6 in the summer!!).
        It took me a few years to get used to the ‘por la tarde’ which extends from post lunch until dinner time (which in summer can be as late as 11pm!!) with a total absence of ‘evening’!!
        Loved the article, very amusing

        • JM  3 March 2013 at

          siesta?? What siesta? that don´t exists in Spain today. Maybe some older people as pensioners, very young children etc they sleep a little after meals, but other people that’s not normal.The siesta is just a habit of many years ago when in the hot summer months, farmworkers rested a bit for to recover forces.

      • David  24 February 2013 at

        I am sorry but I am afraid some of your comments sound quite offensive for spanish people and these are just stereotypes.

        • Javier  25 February 2013 at

          David, Gaymor is right! Never, ever call a spanish landline before 5 p.m.. It drives us nuts and you can not believe what can come out of someone´s mouth when woken up from a good siesta. BTW telephone companies should know this as it´s the time they normally use to call houses.

    • Fatima  23 February 2013 at

      You are right, talking all the way through the meal is very Spanish! I would add that they wine with their meal, always included in the ‘menu del dua’ too. The word ‘sobremesa’ is an interesting one, in Portuguese it means ‘dessert’, or poster in Spanish.

    • pablo  23 February 2013 at

      Thats more italian than spanish, we do tend to talk more about politics than in the rest of Europe

    • borja  26 February 2013 at

      I agree with Juan Luis, in my familly and group of friends the topic “food” is very common. We speak about what we had at the restaurants, how they prepared it, we share recepies, we talk about our last great meal discovery or what we would like to try to cook next or what makes our most favourite meal taste so good. Cheers

  2. Steve  2 October 2012 at

    2. Napkin – With the menu del dia just 1 is supplied – never enough
    3. Agua del Tiempo – disagree – I have seen beer accompanying most meals over the years. Indeed the ‘menu’ usually gives an option of beer, wine or water as the ‘biber’.
    4. Sobremesa – hilarious!

  3. Sara  3 October 2012 at

    You´re right Jonathan! Accurate description of that moment.
    Obviously, depending on the working time you have more or less time for the sobremesa but it´s not like here in England.
    A good point is the water: yes, we don´t tend to drink fizzy drinks when having lunch but here is different.

    Beautiful article!

    Suggestion for the second part: the siesta and café (or just café if there is not enough time). Café at noon or earlier and after lunch is compulsary.

  4. javier  21 February 2013 at

    I live in england, and the absence of napkins drives me mad :-)

  5. Anna Harris-Noble  21 February 2013 at

    Very accurate, the other thing is having seperate plates/ bowls for everything (veg, salad, meat etc), except if it´s sold as a “plato combinado”. My collegues have often remarked on my “weird” English habit of putting salad and veg on the same plate as the protein!

  6. Jackie Cornwall  21 February 2013 at

    What???????? I’m as British as anyone, but neither I nor my family would think of eating without bread, a napkin and water. Neither would we get up immediately after eating – antisocial and bad for the digestion. We also serve our food on separate dishes as Anna describes. Among my social circle, to ‘plate up’ in advance of the meal is bad manners. However, it’s true that we don’t accompany our meals with television. We eat around 8.30, so earlier than the Spanish; but my Spanish friends tend to get going at 9.30…

    • Jonathan  21 February 2013 at

      I don’t doubt that there are families, both Spanish and English, that don’t conform to these stereotypes.

    • Javier  23 February 2013 at

      Before even starting with the 6 habits it says:
      “If you’re sensitive to national stereotyping and stuff like that, perhaps don’t read on – this is lighthearted stuff, meant for a laugh and a bit of discussion. Nothing more.”

    • Serge  23 February 2013 at

      Hey Jackie, are you sure you weren’t spanish in a former life?
      I’d like to suggest another part describing el aperitivo time and its rules (rondas, who eats firt.) which are institutions specially in villages and Madrid.

  7. Miruna  21 February 2013 at

    Thanks for the great post, Jonathan!

  8. Simone Jacobi  21 February 2013 at

    Hi,very interesting..and true.I noticed the “Napkin Fettish”, they get used as coasters as well,at one time i thought people were just being extra carefull about their

  9. Ricardo  22 February 2013 at

    Great article Jonathan and very true. I grew up in a Spanish household within an Anglo country. My favourite part is the sobremesa, during which we ponder and solve the world’s problems over a Pacharan or two…..

  10. Benito  23 February 2013 at

    si, somos así, la frase que resume la sobremesa, se dice.

    — Comer y luego café copa y puro.

    la copa suele ser un alcohol fuerte como el Orujo de 40º de alcohol que además es digestivo, o eso dicen.

    buen artículo.

  11. nacho  23 February 2013 at

    I am Spanish, and yuo are stupid

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Muchas gracias por tu comentario Nacho. Tienes toda la razón del mundo, soy Ingles y stupid.

  12. jajero  23 February 2013 at

    Good one Jonathan! As a spaniard living in the UK for the last 6 years, I’ve discussed many of those points with friends (both English and Spanish people) and I think you got them quite right! Personally, I totally agree with 1 to 4, whichi I’ve seen in my family and friends without exception, and also 5 and 6 in many.
    What about the salad in the middle, which everybody puts their fork in?
    Maybe school-habits could make another good post – not sure if you have kids…

  13. Carlos  23 February 2013 at

    Hi Jonathan, did enjoy the article. I was about to post a quite rude message to you, however you seem to be a nice chap so I’ll control my self and though about it twice.

    The reason for my anger is the amazingly annoying share bar that stays all the time in top of the text while reading on my tablet. I understand you may not be aware of the issue as when setting the blog you may have not time to test every possible device.

    Never the less you writing was so pleasant that I’ve even stand the issue, so I will suggest you leave a nice horizontal bar just at the end of the post that is a lot more inviting to share!

    Keep the good work.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      I’ll get someone to take a look at the issue. Thanks for not posting that rude message.

  14. Inaki  23 February 2013 at

    Ha ha, this is so accurate it made me homesick! :)

    Regarding the drinks, it’s not uncommon to see coke or fanta at the table if there are kids.

    The most annoying habit was having to wait up to two and a half ours after lunch in summer before going to the water at the swimming pool or the sea

  15. Maria  23 February 2013 at

    As a spaniard i have to admit that numbers 1,2,3 and 5 are completely true; the others depend.

    I will tell you an anecdote about me and the napkins. I went in an exchange to England for 10 days. The very first meal we had there, i realized i did not have a napkin. I felt SO dirty. The other 10 days i spent there, i always had a tissue with me in my pocket, and i pretended to sneeze and use it, while i cleaned my mouth.

  16. Marcos  23 February 2013 at

    So real and so funny Jonathan!
    You’ve forgot one of my favourites while the salad is on the table when someones says ‘These tomatoes do not taste like they used to”/”estos tomates ya no saben como los de antes”

  17. cnn  23 February 2013 at

    You do not use napkins?


    Oh my god, hahahaha

  18. Pedro Carrillo  23 February 2013 at

    Jackie, I’ll tell you… you are Spanish :)
    About why 3pm is launch time, I think that it comes from after the Civil War. After the war many people was poor, the they had to work in two jobs. Then on that age, the first job starts at 6 – 7 am to 13 – 14pm, and at 15 – 16 pm starts the second job.
    Great post Jonathan!

  19. Uzu  23 February 2013 at

    “Why should a Spaniard need a napkin whereas English diners can do without?”
    Obviously, because spaniards are generally cleaner than the English people.

  20. robespierre  23 February 2013 at

    Muy bueno me he reido un monton …son topicos…pero los topicos tienen su parte de verdad.
    Very good article, I have enjoyed it a lot. Those are tipically ‘sayings’ but as all the ‘sayings’ they have something true.
    sorry for my bad english

  21. lala  23 February 2013 at

    That’s true: even chinese restaurants need to offer bread if they want to have customers.

    In my family we eat beer, coke or water while eating.

    I always take a napkin but sometimes I don´t use it and I save it for the next time.

    And the ‘sobremesa’ is sacred. It means ‘OnTheTable’ because it’s time to speak with family and share problems and opinions while the dishes are still on the table.

  22. Enrique  23 February 2013 at

    I´m spaniard. Your post is very true hahaha! The part of napkins is very important for us… I can´t understand you don´t need it in every meal… :S

  23. AnimusNecandi  23 February 2013 at

    I think I might help to solve this mistery “If a napkin is so necessary in order to maintain hygiene whilst eating, we have to ask how the English are able to do without one on such a regular basis.”

    It’s not about neccesity, it’s about the different concept of hygiene that exists in Uk or Spain. I mean, I don’t think that in a country where you can find fitted carpet everywhere (even in bathrooms!) people are very concerned about hygiene.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Read the rest of the paragraph before commenting.

  24. afi  23 February 2013 at

    You miss the “copa” in the “sobremesa”.

  25. Gavet  23 February 2013 at

    I would add one more thing which I know is popular over here but which might not be the case in England: Fuentes

    Fuentes are large plates that are shared between the guests. They contain a large amount of food and are usually distributed across the table so that everyone can pick the amount of food they desire and put it on their individual plates. It is basically a shared groupal plate.

    This is done very frequently over here. If I’m not mistaken it is done much more frequently than in other countries such as in England.


  26. Humo  23 February 2013 at

    No domino bien el inglés, pero me ha picado la curiosidad y he echado mano del diccionario… ¡Te felicito! Tu post es divertido y veraz al mismo tiempo.

  27. victor  23 February 2013 at

    No usar servilletas es de cerdos. ¿Se limpian con la camisa? Beber agua es un hábito saludable, en inglaterra hay bastantes más gordos que en españa… así como en usa donde beben coca cola con cualquier comida, las grandes compañias les han inculcado que beber refrescos es algo normal y lo defienden a muerte… con las demás hábitos… pues son costumbres más o menos diferentes que en otros sitios, pero tampoco es tan raro.

    • Enrique  26 February 2013 at

      “No usar servilletas es de cerdos”

      Llamar “cerdo” a alguien por no usar servilletas es de incultos.

      En Inglaterra hay más obesidad que aquí, pero eso es porque en su dieta faltan las verduras y las fibras; pero eso tiene que ver mucho más con el clima que con “lo influenciables que son por las grandes compañías”. Le recuerdo que en este país tenemos una crisis económica brutal precisamente porque dejamos que las grandes compañías hicieran lo que quisieron, mientras todos estábamos sentados en el sillón viendo el fútbol.

      Y ahora, nuestros ingenieros se mudan a ese país “tan malo” del que habla usted. Con un poco de suerte, se mudarán tantos que el resto podrá vivir vendiéndoles jamón.

      • coazervado  26 February 2013 at

        La crisis viene, precisamente, por pretender ser como los ingleses o los estadounidenses. Al menos en parte… hemos copiado todo lo peor, incluida la “influenciabilidad” por las grandes compañías y nada de lo mejor. Ahí tienes la clave y su raíz también es, por supuesto, cultural… se remonta a tiempo inmemoriales, que de siempre en el español convive la disonancia del orgullo patrio con el “lo de fuera siempre es mejor”.

  28. Juanjo  23 February 2013 at

    Great article, pointed out some of the most remarkable differences in spanish meals habits. I´d like to add the the fact of eating a 14:00 or 15:00 in Spain comes from the high temperatures in summer. With thirty or forty degrees Cº a hundred of years ago, so forget air conditioning, you can´t work, can´t do anything but eating and after that having a “siesta”. The labour timetable started in the past at 5:30 and finished at 13:00, just to avoid the highest temperatures.

  29. Alexandra  23 February 2013 at

    Bread with anything and everything??? I´m Spanish and usually I don´t eat bread. I have never had habit of eating bread, only when I eat a sandwich. Like me, there are many people. And I have never seen a Chinese restaurant serving bread.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Really? Go into any ‘Wok’ restaurant, of which there are hundreds in Spain now, and you’ll see baskets of bread everywhere.

    • coazervado  26 February 2013 at

      I am sorry to say it, but, Alexandra, you are probably a victim of that extended misconception “el pan engorda”..

      Jonathan, you could get that idea too. The spaniards, either eat bread with everything or don’t eat bread at all and see it like “the fattening devil”

  30. Jaime  23 February 2013 at

    Great! You nailed most of them. But you missed two:

    Spaniards speak very loud while eating. Just enter a Spanish restaurant and hear the difference 😛

    And Spaniards don’t eat alone. It is quite strange to see a person eating alone in any restaurant, even executives with little time tend to ask a teammate to eat together :-)

  31. David  23 February 2013 at


    Me as Spanish, think your amazing post scientifically accurate.

    Congratulations from Barcelona.

  32. Pau  23 February 2013 at

    Amazing, about the 3pm time you will see nobody on the street because it also can be siesta time:) I think you should include so!

  33. dragoner  23 February 2013 at

    Después de leer tu exposición llego a la conclusión de que los ingleses sois unos guarros, no sabéis comer, insociales y saborios.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      SON unos guarros o no SABEN comer, mejor dicho. Yo personalmente no soy nada ingles. Pero buen comentario – no es nada ofensivo.

      • Ciruela  25 February 2013 at

        Ni te molestes en contestar a estos especímenes Jonathan, si no sabe ni escribir (saborios?).
        El post me ha hecho mucha gracia. Cosas como lo del servilletas no me había dado cuenta porque la verdad es que siempre las hay en los restaurantes, al menos de Manchester!

  34. pablo  23 February 2013 at


    I’m spanish , from the the north part of spain where there is not beach and sun.

    What you said about sobremesa is the tipically situation in my family on sunday, but not

    On a sunday we useally join lunch with dinner, just talking, and driking coffe!!

    Great post!!

  35. Katie  23 February 2013 at

    Loved the article! You nailed it indeed. I agree with Juan Luis. It is very common, especially at family gatherings, to sit down for lunch and start talking about what they are going to have for dinner. My mother did that all the time when we lived at home, and now she does it even if we are not having dinner together that evening! You guys should really start using napkins, though.

  36. Dani  23 February 2013 at

    “…Followed by the weather: hot in the south, cold in Leon, Burgos and Soria, and raining in Galicia and Asturias…” it’s true, sooo good. jajajaja

    Greetings from Spain.

  37. Jose Miguel  23 February 2013 at

    “Why should a Spaniard need a napkin whereas English diners can do without?” There are 2 possible answers to this question. Choose yours:
    1.English skin is like that of the dolls. They just don’t get dirty.
    2.English are a bit more dirty and disrespectful than spanish people.

    As spaniard I can tell you that it may be a cultural thingy, but there are few things more disgusting that sharing the dinning table with someone with a greasy mouth, leaving food bits and grease in the glass at every sip.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Just like almost every other offensive comment on this topic, you have failed to properly read the next sentence which says “Do they just resign themselves to having a dirty mouth throughout a meal. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that might be the case.” So, yes, I am saying that your answer 2 is the correct one.

  38. Juan Manuel Dato  23 February 2013 at

    I was looking for the siesta. In Spain the lunch time is the most important of the day, so breakfast or dinner usually are very light. In lunch food could be too heavy and that is the reason we have to “reposar la comida” (what you said to asimilate – but that is not psycological, that is good for the body and heart). When Stomach works it uses a lot of energy: and that is the reason at 3pm we are sleeping or relaxing, not at all eating. Some doctors ensure just 45 minutes in bed after lunch is perfect for the body – I do not know, but I swear they wear their own clothes to sleep (pijamas).

    So let’s think it in this way: we have less heart-attack than English…

  39. Jose  23 February 2013 at

    Perfect! I wonder why the napkins and bread is something rarely, seen by foreigners. Greetings from Zaragoza!

  40. Ignacio  23 February 2013 at

    before you accuse me take a look at yourself!!!!!!!,

    Junto con Japón vivimos más que nadie y supongo que eso es debido a una buena higiene personal y alimentaria.

    Que un inglés me enseñe higiene, después de ver la cochinada de poner moqueta en el baño, no tiene precio.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      No accusations – just some simple observations. Read the article properly and you might understand.

  41. Jose Miguel  23 February 2013 at

    About the bread eating culture, it might sound strange because you’re eating carbohydrates with carbohydrates sometimes. But you have to look at english habits too. Chips with everything, even pasta and pizza. Isn’t it the same? Ooopss…… you didn’t think about it because it’s your own habit.
    Don’t take me wrong, this is not criticism, I’ve enjoyed your post a lot. It’s just a touch of attention to your own inconsistencies.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      You’re right – perhaps you should write an article about British eating habits. Try to do it without the insulting undertone though.

  42. misato  23 February 2013 at

    hahaha! Really good post and completely true.
    I’m Spanish living on The Netherlands and I try to explain the concept of sobremesa being sacred almost every day.
    We sometimes have meetings just after lunch (sometimes I even have to finish my lunch at the meeting) and that’s something that drives me crazy.
    Same story with the napkins.

    And I didn’t notice that we talk about food while eating until I came here. My dutch friends always point that to me.

  43. Gilbert  23 February 2013 at

    To confirm some of your points from the p.o.v. of someone born and living in Barcelona:

    1) Bread: completely agree. I cannot live without it (some people due to diets or so try not to eat it but is clearly in our culture)

    2) Napkins: yes, spanish standards of personal and home hygiene are clearly above other countries.

    3) I couldn’t describe it better. I hope we can keep Coke and other sugar based drinks out of the table. Our health deserves that.

    4) Sobremesa: well is not my particular case but I think you do a very close description to reality. Being there without any talk is quite useless but people talk about politics or others after lunch is over. The bridge between lunch and dinner may be is a bit exagerated. In some places in the summer holidays it could happen but never seen it where I live.

    5) 3 PM: Yes you can see people starting eating at 3pm, in weekends, holidays and more in southern than northern regions. During working days I think is more real to say from 13:30 to 14:30.

    6) Telediario: Completely agree. It’s a background noise (now more than ever when they are just a loudspeaker of the government party). Also I cannot believe how much time is dedicated to sports in my country. I couldn’t care less about sports but you perfectly got it.

    Kind regards,
    Gilbert (Barcelona)

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Thanks Gilbert. Definitely starting to think that 3pm is specific to Leon and the average might be more around 2pm.

  44. Menendez  23 February 2013 at

    True, true, true…. in my home, i’m from a mallorca’s village, we are exactly like that…. my dad eat bread with mallorcas typical soup, that is made with bread too :-)

  45. Estefanía  23 February 2013 at

    You’re right! And we miss all these little thing when we are living abroad 😉

  46. oscar  23 February 2013 at


    You´re missing one thing. plus some errors.

    Usually time to eat in spain start 1:30 to 3:PM and all the time is used.

    Most of the spanish use this time to watch “The simpson´s” tv show.


  47. Mr. Pointer  23 February 2013 at

    Well, it is not so so but on the whole, it’s all as written. But some details are omitted, and they are important ones. For instance, the official time in Spain was “moved” by Franco in order to align Spain with Germany. As anyone can see, Main (Greenwich) Meridian goes through Catalonia and Valencia, so the most of Spain is *west* of Britain. Our time should be that of Britain (i.e., GMT), so 3 pm are actually 2 pm or even less (in Galiza, in fact, 8º W, 1.30 pm). It is still quite late to eat, but not as late as a real 3 p.m., and do not forget this aberration of “summer savings time”. Also, before Franco, the Spanish customs (all over) was very similar to these of the rest of Europe, a light meal around 12 p.m. (as it is in Portugal nowadays) and a strong lunch at evening. Once more, the dictatorship changed that to current situation (which in fact is caused by working timetables, ajusted to Catholic and right-winged ideologies). Obviously, this situation is not good, either for individual health and for economic efficiency. By the way, here where I live, there is still aged people we are not eating (believe me) at 3 p.m., but in rural areas.

    Excuse me my English!

  48. Sergio Rodríguez  23 February 2013 at

    LMAO !!!! Not of the all spanish do that but most of us do it hahahahaha congrats for the post, is hilarious to me lol

  49. juan  23 February 2013 at

    Nice post!
    By the way, “Cafe del tiempo” is quite known in Spanish with one or two ices in summer and without them in winter.

    About napkins, it could have a another reason, here, we like to eat with bread, as you mentioned, and some dishes are eaten with hands. For example, we like to dip bread in tasty dense sauces and finish having a swallow of wine.
    So, no bread, no party.


  50. Jordi  23 February 2013 at

    Great, but as an Spaniard myself I don’t agree about the 3pm thing. I eat every day at 13:00, and at work we do the same. Maybe on Sunday or on a non-working day when the hour does not matter and you wake up late too. But 15 it’s definetly not normal for me or the people I know. For example, restaurants open from 12 to 15, so at 15 you don’t get any service.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Wow, where do you live? Round here (Leon) a restaurant that closed at 3pm would be out of business in a week.

  51. Alejandro  23 February 2013 at

    You forgot another one “sobremesa” habit. It depends if in your timetable have time for this or not, but is common in special meals, “el café y la copa”. The “sobremesa” is accompanied with a coffee or a cup of liquor, or both.

  52. Jorge  23 February 2013 at

    …and the nap. You forgot to comment this sacred institution, now in extinction danger in Spain.

  53. Nemesis  23 February 2013 at

    Spot on!

    the bread of course is the most important… i mean, there is just no joy in eating without bread.. it dosent matter if you cook the best stuff in the world, without bread it’s nothing! lol

    I didnt realize about the napkin thing!

    I never went to England (in France and Switzerland they use it tho), but suffice to say that when I was a kid I had paranoia about leaving stains on the glass (my lips skin did break up with cold..)

    The only thing i disagree with is the “only water in every table” thing… in my family adults always had beer or wine, depending on what we were eating.. kids usually had cola or juice.. every family is diferent tho

    now i’m the adult, and i never drink any other thing than water, so if i ever have a family, we will drink water, max some juice..

  54. Fatima  23 February 2013 at

    You are right, but they also drink wine with their meals. Any restaurant with a Menu del dia’ will include wine in the price.
    Spanish do talk through their meal in a way we don’t see in other countries. There is a genuine interest to discuss the food they’re eating and that others are eating too.
    The word ‘sobremesa’ means ‘dessert’ in Portuguese – how interesting, as they also stay ‘over the table’ after the meal is finished.

  55. David  23 February 2013 at

    Very funny! I’ve never realized how strange can seem our eating manners to a foreign visitor.
    I only differ about the water, at least in Andalusia, specially in bars and restaurants. If you look around, you’ll see almost all the people are drinking in order of most to less probable: beer, wine, refreshments and water.

  56. Joanthan  23 February 2013 at

    Next time you can speak about bullfighing, flamenco an soon to continue the usual brainless speach about spanishs.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Did you actually read the article? Did you find any mention of the ‘typical’ stereotypes? Toros, sol, fiesta, siesta? No, you didn’t. That’s because it’s an article about the more subtle gastronomic stereotypes that many people might not have thought about before. Judging from the comments here, many people did actually find them interesting. Who’s the brainless one now?

  57. Irene  23 February 2013 at

    So funny this post! I´m spanish, and it is real everything!
    But, just one thing… Lunch time in Spain is between 1pm-3pm, being the most common at 2pm (if you eat at 1pm, most ot people will say “are you english or something?) and 3pm is starting to be a little bit late.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      It’s interesting – obviously I have mainly experience of where I live in Spain (Leon) and it seems from a lot of the comments that lunchtime is starting to get earlier and earlier around Spain – perhaps 2pm is the average now?

      • Rafa  25 February 2013 at

        It is just anecdotal evidence, but there used to be a jingle of a rice company that went “Las dos, las dos, nos vamos a comer.” (“Two o’clock, two o’clock, let’s go to have lunch.”)

        I’d say 14:00 – 14:30 is the usual time to start lunch in winter and 15:00 – 15:30 in summer. In a professional environment lunch time can even start at 13:00, mainly to be better aligned with other European countries so you don’t waste hours because of the different schedules.

        Great post all around.

  58. Cris  23 February 2013 at

    Leaving traces of fingers or mouth on a glass is considered bad manners and quite dirty. Also talking while you are chewing your meal.
    I would like to say that if I am with family and close friends I enjoy eating chicken or sardines with my hands, eventhough is considered bad manners they are tastier for me if I use my fingers instead of cutlery. I don’t know why.

  59. jabujavi  23 February 2013 at

    1. Bread-> Very simple. In Spain the bread is very good, and it could be different between plates (pan de pueblo, frances, chapata, negro, tostado…). Also, our plates usually have “salsa para mojar el pan” and it’s an important part of the recipe.

    2. Napkin-> Just higienic. And if anyone are talking to you it’s awful if he are dirty.

    3. Water / Agua del Tiempo / Mixing water-> About temperature, nothing to say. About omnipresence’s water, in a single plate could be different tastes so you don’t want to mix it; probably it’s related with the napkins, the sensation of dirty during the dinner is avoided as far as posible.

    4. Sobremesa-> Very simple, we usually eat with our family and we tell us how gone the day. Moreover, we use this time to drink a coffe/tea or a liqueur as a digestive, and if you are in your house you need this time to prepare it. It could be seen as a simple social act, but so many business were close in ‘sobremesa'; it’s a time were relaxed that are used to enforce a relationship.

    5. 3pm is Lunchtime-> I think usually hour is 2pm. But it isn’t uniform.

    6. Telediario-> Lunchtime is the best time to see the news and talk about it with your familie/workmates.

  60. Miriam/El invitado de invierno  23 February 2013 at

    I really loved this article. Everything is so true!! I hate the telediario tradition though, it seems to relate to the fear of silence in this country, that seems to be ever thriving…

  61. Spanish guy  23 February 2013 at

    7th habit “SIESTA!!” 😀

  62. Pim pam pum, toma lacasitos  23 February 2013 at

    Apart from being Spanish and not sharing the first half of the habits listed here, I have to disagree with the water. For my experience it is more usual to serve wine (from time to time there is somebody that prefers beer), sometimes accompanied with “gaseosa” (“soda pop”? Really?) than to have water.

    I may be not so accurate on the next one, but apart from the “telediario”, it is common to eat at 14h while watching “the Simpsons” in Antena 3, then do the “sobremesa” with the news.

  63. bruno  23 February 2013 at

    Muy buen post. He disfrutado mucho leyéndolo. Creo que es cierto aunque también percibo a mi alrededor que buena parte de todo eso se empieza a perder en las familias más jóvenes. En mi casa no hay ni telediario, ni dos jarras de agua (sólo un vaso para la niña), aunque del pan de momento no podemos prescindir.

  64. Ruben  23 February 2013 at

    I´m still laughing, it´s the best Spanish eating habits I´ve ever seen, and I´m Spanish!
    A thing that surprised me is the fact of the napkins, I don´t really imagine a lunch without them.
    As a detail, the “telediario” is said as “el parte”, if you are talking with older people, I always remember my grandfather with that expression. Thanks for the post.

  65. Jorge  23 February 2013 at

    Haha! Very funny… and accurate!

  66. Thais  23 February 2013 at

    Hilarious! Thanks for the article

    Although yes, you missed the coffee after every single meal, no matter what time it is! It’s a digestive! :)

  67. Alvaro  23 February 2013 at

    Loved it!

    You forgot the unspoken rule! We are actually thinking about the next meal right after we finish lunch!

    What will we have at 22h? and where?

    So many questions!

  68. Asturae  23 February 2013 at

    Nice article, however and not knowing in the part of spain where you live, im sure almost al 90% that you are not in any of the northen autonomous communities (from galicia, asturias, cantabria or the basque country).

    In general here we don’t eat all that late (unless a special occasion or a weekend), lunch normally is between 12.30 and 2 pm, dinner between 8 and 10. And in general we tend to drink cider with food, and -why not- beer and wine, or coke or whatever, on a daily basis. I have never seen a meal with water at my grandparents home in my life, they always drink wine.

    Some point i would agree 100% is bread. But probably, as far as i have experienced, this also applies to the french, portuguese and italians, not just to us 😛

  69. Juanse Murcia  23 February 2013 at

    Lo has clavado, jomathan, y tenemos que estar charlando, y comiendo, por cierto, me da envidia, como sois vosotros y defendeis vuestros valores.. un abrazo

  70. Daaran  23 February 2013 at

    Otra cosa de la servilleta, es que nada mas te sientas te la pones en las rodillas, para que no esté en la mesa
    y si estás en un restaurante el camarero tenga sitio para dejar el plato. Y solo la dejas en la mesa cuando ya has terminado de comer.

    Y la cabezadita despues de comer también es sagrado.

  71. marieta  23 February 2013 at

    Magnifico post, aunque se están perdiendo las buenas costumbres!!! y te has olvidado de la siesta, es parte imprescindible de una buena comida.

  72. rob  23 February 2013 at

    what about “vino con gaseosa” for drinking? i’ve never seen this in any other country.

  73. Jeflopo  23 February 2013 at

    I’m Spanish, and I can’t imagine to eat without bread, talking with my family or watching the news as stated here. In my house we use cellulose napkins. And if u go to a restaurant you’ll find this textile napkins for sure. In Spain we associate the time to eat, dining, etc with a time to spend for relax ourselves :)

    The “sobremesa” that can be translatet as “afters” or “dessert” I think, It’s more like socializing… or eating with the family (uncle’s, cousins) Or just by commenting what you see in tv daily news… Is an awesome moment to talk about anything… Isn’t it ? :)

  74. Fito  23 February 2013 at

    Great post and very true!

    Being a Spaniard with some regular contact with foreigners I have already noticed and discussed this habits. The one on “sobremesa” and about talking or TV while we are eating was the topic on one of my early English lessons. We came to a rough conclusion: “we in Spain live to eat and British people eat to live”. Lunch time is more a social event, the time of the day we gather to talk about our team’s last match, the morning work, next weekend…

    And about food! Totally agree with Juan Luis. When we eat, we remember remarkable dishes or meals we shared in the past, talk about recipes or things we’d like to try on future trips.

    About daily menus, they usually include wine and sparkling water (wine is usually not first quality and you need to “reduce” it. Also, we work after lunch, so you can’t drink too much) Coffee or dessert is included (notice the “or”)

    Siesta is not so common nowadays. Hardly anyone has the privilege to go back home from work for lunch, spend half an hour on a regular sized siesta and be back to the office. Siesta is only for weekends and vacation! 😀

  75. Clean Eastwood  23 February 2013 at

    ” If a napkin is so necessary in order to maintain hygiene whilst eating, we have to ask how the English are able to do without one on such a regular basis”

    Perhaps the answer is that we Spaniards have been instructed to have everyday meal as in a nice restaurant. Or perhaps is that you English are genetically unable to maintain an accurate hygiene whilst eating.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Um, yes – that’s pretty much what the next sentence says: ” Do they just resign themselves to having a dirty mouth throughout a meal. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that might be the case.” You and many other people have completely failed to understand this sentence.

  76. Guashinton  23 February 2013 at

    I`m agree with all the points, and with the first coment too.

    My lunch’s at work has always a sucession of comments about the different food that we have this day and how we cook/like it 😀

    About the lunch time, I think that 2 pm is the usual.

  77. David García  23 February 2013 at

    So funny!
    My two cents.

    1) OK with that. No bread, no lunch. If you don’t eat bread, you’re on a diet.
    2) When I visit London, I use them too! and I see people around using them! But that’s exact. There are always napkins on the table.
    3) Don’t agree. There’s ALWAYS tap water but it’s very common to see beer and wine.
    5) Lunch time: 2-4pm. If you have lunch at 1pm, you’re eating early.

  78. Jorge  23 February 2013 at

    Good post! Just a comment about “sobremesa”. This is really common in weekends and holidays, but not in labour days, when you have to go back to work after lunch.

  79. Javi  23 February 2013 at

    jajajajaj!! Nos has pillado! Has dicho cosas en las que nunca había caído, pero claro, me paro a pensarlo y es que es cierto! Muy buen post! 😀

    I would like to answer in English, but my English is not very good, sorry…

  80. Carlos  23 February 2013 at

    Great and accurate post! For the second part you shouldn’t forget the “Pacharán” and the herbals shots during the sobremesa 😉

  81. Ximo  23 February 2013 at

    So spot on! I’m Spaniard myself and I was fearing another stereotypical piece, but all you said is spot on and true! Kudos!

  82. Geck  23 February 2013 at

    About the second point. I hate to see food tidbits floating in someone’s glass. It’s just plain disgusting.

  83. Antonio  23 February 2013 at

    Hola, me he hechado unas risas con tu artículo. Muy gracioso eso de verme desde el punto de vista de un extranjero.
    Pero se te ha olvidado una de las cosas mas importantes en España. Lo que es “rebañar” con pan los platos. Cuando te queda salsa y hasta que no dejas el plato limpio con el pan no terminas.
    Gracias y un gran abrazo.

  84. Popler  23 February 2013 at

    As a spaniard I agree with almost all said in this article. I always “steal” napkins from tables around cause 1 is not enough for me.

    About the water: wine is as much important as the water. All “menú del día” include it and its very common to mix it with soda (vino con gaseosa/vino con casera).

  85. Rubén  23 February 2013 at

    I have really enjoyed your post.
    The napkin is essential, it could be made of paper or clothing, but if I do not have one, I must search for one. It is also very common when we eat a hamburger, but in a restaurant, not the Burger King type. Between each bite, we need to clean our hands to get our glass. So in one meal, we could use 2 or 3.
    El Telediario, some old people call it “el parte” becouse it is like it is called to the Nodo, El Telediario, when there was not TV and the image-news were in cinemas.
    Sobremesa. There is a anecdote from Camacho, a former Spanish Selection football Team, that one day he ate with the Sweeden football delegation. They were surprised becouse, they sat down to it at 13.00 (the time the ate in Sweeden) and they got up at 18.00 (the time they have dinner in Sweeden). And if there are a lot of people, it is common to play cards in Sobremesa: mus, tute…

  86. Jorge  23 February 2013 at

    I am spanish and i usually don’t buy bread, I eat at 1 pm everyday and im not used to watch the “telediario” after having lunch. And i love fresh water at any time.

  87. gadea  23 February 2013 at

    awesome, I’m Spanish and everything you have said tend to be true in most Spanish families. you just forgot the news section the “parte” which is the name the eldest people use when talking about the telediario”

  88. Enrique  23 February 2013 at

    Yes, Im spanish, and i couldnt explain it better. Congrats!

  89. Libia  23 February 2013 at

    Sooo true and fun to read about our traditions! You are such a good observer;)

  90. Manuel  23 February 2013 at

    Thank you for your article, it is very accurate.

    I am Spanish but I know many western habits. You have forgotten the noise, louder noise. Event spanish and italians, I unknown to the Greeks, we are the champions. There is more noise in any spanish restaurant that any road work o building construction.

    You will never see a restaurant in Spain that do not allow the entry of children or with a warning to this (noise).

    Even in areas with strict lunch/dinner scheduled time, eating it’s a family or social event, every day. If the duration must be short, the social 15 mins. sobremesa (over desktop?) is sacred even if you have to cut and get a 30-minute meal. We have a phrase for the whole thing “Well eating is health” then eat is not only swallow proteins.

    ps: sorry for my english.

  91. Ramón Felipe  23 February 2013 at

    You forgot the habit of eat and speak at the same time, or speaking when you have a piece of food in your mouth. It’s so horrible!!!

    My grandpa always ate bananas with bread!!!

    I’m Spanish but I live in Argentina and theses socials habits are the same in this country except the lunch time, between 12 and 14. In Sundays, because people go to bed later in Saturdays, is more usual to have lunch at 14 or 15, but not in weekdays.

  92. Fran  23 February 2013 at

    As a Spaniard, I agree 100% with what I’ve read 😛
    Another thing I consider extremely important is the sacred ritual of the cooking itself, especially if the main dish of the day is paella in the summer. The fact of being cooking in the garden with friends and family while talking and drinking is almost as important as the eating itself.

  93. I  23 February 2013 at

    Just one thing: you are lucky because your wife stands you acting as you writte. So you can add one more thing. Spanish wifes are really kind with stupod husbands. And this is also ver spanish

  94. My little Barcelona  23 February 2013 at

    Qizá nosotros comemos más platos tipo potajes, guisos, arroces caldosos, caldos y cocidos que precisan de pericia con la cuchara…o servilletas!!
    Me gustó tu post!

  95. Gabriel  23 February 2013 at

    Wait a moment…What?? I will be in trouble when i visit England :( i need bread and napkins when eating xD
    But im not into regular sobremesa at all.. i like to stand up, walk a little and then going to the couch to talk, smoke and watch tv.

  96. Irene  23 February 2013 at

    What you said about the napkins and the water is totally right! My boyfriend is german and in his house there is allways a bottle with water from the sink for me. Like most of the Spanish, I can’t stand sparkly water. And I have to go to get a piece of kitchen paper because nobody has napkins! When my bf came for the first time to Spain he served his salad in what he thought, was a separate plate for it, but actually, it was a plate for the bread…

    The sobremesa is most important, but there is a part of Spanish people, mostly mums and grandmas, which tend to start picking up the plates before even you finished eating and it really gets on my nerves.

  97. Bel  23 February 2013 at

    I’m from Mallorca, and it isn’t true thatwe can’t eat without bread. Only with meat, meals with broth and a few things more.
    And we have lunch at two o’clock because school finishes at this time, and it’s when the children come at home.
    And finaly I have to say that there are lots of families that don’t watch the news at lunchtime. Normaly the TV is in the living room.

    PS: sorry if there are spelling mistakes. I’m only a fourteen years old student!

  98. sp  23 February 2013 at

    I love these kinds of articles in the EU (which sometimes suggests certain superiority) always wondered how the Spanish are so concerned about hygiene immediately afterwards to ask themselves how they can be cleaned without doing the same as Spanish.

    Single. Because you are not. The Spanish give many turns in domestic hygiene and most citizens north of the Pyrenees.

    (Comment emerged after reading “The Spanish used napkins at every meal. For me it is normal to use them at Christmas or in the good restaurants. (…) If the napkin is as necessary to maintain hygiene while eating, how that we English are able to do this without using napkins?)
    My answer to such reflection is that the English have no Teflon skin but believe it. Pigs, I only cleanse for Christmas.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Great comment! You have completely misunderstood my article and then go on to insult the whole of Britain by calling them (yes, them, personally I’m more Spanish than British) ‘cerdos’. That’s pretty offensive to a lot of people. Since you have obviously translated your original Spanish comment with Google Translate I guess it’s no surprise you didn’t really understand the article.

  99. sp  23 February 2013 at

    I after living some time in England found that in most cases the general hygiene leaves something to be desired. There is a feeling of mine, all the Spanish I know who have lived or are living with me have commented English.

    Is weak in all aspects: personal hygiene, order, way above all very clean, wash dishes with hot water, vacuuming solve everything, let the stove, microwave or oven scorched fat accumulate to unimaginable limits … Say you usually have cleaning standards well below average Spanish.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Hilarious and quite typical of some of the undereducated comments that are arriving here from people who are clearly too stupid to properly understand the meaning of tongue-in-cheek.

  100. rs242  23 February 2013 at

    3. Water / Agua del Tiempo / Mixing water
    So, in the picture we can see the typical spanish social meal with a Coke, a bottle of wine and a pair of gaseosa bottles (a kind of sweet soda)… no water in sight 😀

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      He he. That picture was actually taken at a meal during a village fiesta. So Coke = allowed.

  101. David  23 February 2013 at

    You have just mentioned all sacred points of a typical Spanish meal.
    The only reason you could skip the point 4. Sobremesa and leave the table is because you are going to take a 30-50 minutes nap.
    Nice article :)

  102. lol  23 February 2013 at

    As Spanish is married to a German I could also list, for example, many German customs are diametrically opposed to the “usual” in Spain. But there is no inferiority or superiority of it. And usually, as you said # 24 most of them are very simple explanations.

    That said, I must say that overall, the food, and the social act of eating in Spain is much more serious than in other countries further north, with the exception of France.

    More or less reasoned explanations for why things are like that counts in the article, you can do a few. I give mine:

    a) The bread: one of the things I’ve seen many times is that of a Spanish snack, is the food of many Europeans. In Spain, a sandwich is something you eat “mid-afternoon” if you’re hungry, to “hold until dinner.” Or something you eat at midmorning, if you get hungry, to last until lunch. Whereupon the bread is not present consistently as “part of the main meal,” but as an accessory to the food. When your food is mostly summarizes sandwich, hamburger and puppy, it is obvious that the bread is extra at other meals because “you’ve got it built.”

    b) The napkin: Spend a bit the same, I do not need a napkin to eat a sandwich, beyond which probably has wrapped. When you go to eat lentils and then a steak, maybe you find it useful.

    c) Water: True, the Spanish drink much more water. And the explanation, for me, has to do with the weather. If you drink two liters daily juice become a vacaburra finish. In Spain, when cities have full February 20th, you need to increase your fluid intake. Therefore, you need to drink fluids that preferably do not cause any kind of health problem, water is the best of them. It is strange that a Spanish drink only “one glass” of something during the meal, however, it is very common in the rest of europe. Here you can drink three glasses of water and eating nobody will look at you funny (or two beers and two glasses of water). There when you ask the second beer and find it strange.

    d) The Desktop: It has to do with the social importance of food in the country. When eating is more than food is well understood. When eating food just because you do not understand.

  103. María Isabel  23 February 2013 at

    Gracias, Jonathan, por dar una visión de nuestras costumbres tan diferente.

    He encontrado en cada país que he visitado hábitos que me han sorprendido y mucho en algunos casos, me extraña que en Gran Bretaña se ponga comida de diferentes sabores mezclada en el mismo plato, todo junto, mi sentido del gusto se resiente y al final no sé qué es lo que estoy comiendo.

    Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con los cinco primeros puntos, en general es así, difiero del seis, solo es en muchos casos, pero no la mayoría.

    Te felicito por el análisis.

    Un saludo,

  104. eddie  23 February 2013 at

    This post was in the front page of the spanish news aggregator ‘meneame’. You can find a lot of comments about the article in ‘’ in spanish.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Yes – and a lot of them have completely misunderstood the intention of the article. It was meant as a bit of fun, a way to discuss some cultural differences between our countries gastonomic habits. Most people here have seemed to understand that. A lot of the Spanish comments on Meneame have taken me to be some typical guiri, probably living on the Costa who really doesn’t know anything about Spain or its customs and suggest that what I have written is in some way offensive. It’s not. I live in Spain, have done for more than 5 years, and intend to do so for ever. I feel more Spanish than British. I’m really upset and saddened by some of the comments I’ve read.

  105. errante  23 February 2013 at

    The lunchtime hour is less exotic than it sounds, given that Spain’s time zone is one hour ahead of sun time. In fact, Galicia would be not one but two hours ahead of it!!

  106. Brian Reedy  23 February 2013 at

    Great article. Been living in BCN nearly 8 years and I think I’ve picked up nearly all these habits. The only thing I’d never personally heard is the “del tiempo” part. Usually when I want my bottle of water room temp, I order it “natural”. Same for the leche in my cortado or cafe con…

  107. Berto  23 February 2013 at

    And, what about the “palillo mondadientes”, the repugnant and old glass full of them, touched by al the users and noises of people while using it?

  108. Spanish  23 February 2013 at

    In Spain we say an expression: “reposar la comida” that it is “la sobremesa”. If it is summer, all mothers say to their children: “Haz la digestión antes de meterte en el agua” = Let´s let our food digest a little before you are going to swim. For some people it is sacred to have a nap too.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Very true – but I think that’s a worldwide thing no? My mum always used to tell me that when I was a kid.

  109. Antonio Suárez  23 February 2013 at

    Great article! I’m spanish and you just nailed it, except maybe the water. I’d say we like more having wine and other beverages than water, but yes, it’s pretty common.
    I hope you do another article like this :)

  110. Enric  23 February 2013 at

    Pues que guarros los britanicos, comer sin servilleta, con la boca grasienta.
    Y lo de las moquetas hasta en el cuarto de baño….

  111. Pingback: The Top 6 Eating Habits of the Spanish | extrantequera

  112. Spaniard  23 February 2013 at

    has dado en el clavo tio ¡¡¡ jajajajaj quizas en el sur si se suele comer con cerveza pero si que se suele utlizar mas para el “tapeo”. muy buen post tio me he reido bastante

  113. Dani  23 February 2013 at

    Buen articulo, pero como español de Murcia tengo que corregir algunas cosas… pero de buen rollo… 😉
    1º La servilleta es indispensable para mantener la boca y las manos limpias ya que muchas de nuestra comidas y aperitivos se comen tradicionalmente con las manos (en familia) el jamón, las aceitunas, las almendras fritas con sal, pollo a la brasa, la mojama y la hueva (típicas en Murcia). A pesar de los tópicos, los españoles somos limpios, al menos en la mesa :)
    2º La sobremesa se hace cuando se puede. Y si se esta de vacaciones y/o de reunión familiar esta se puede prolongar mediante copas de licores ( whisky, ron, vodka, etc…) hasta la cena.
    3º La hora de comer va desde las 14.00 a 15.00. Costumbre única en Europa se la debemos a Franco (nuestro infame dictador) que en epoca de la WWII y pensando en una victoria Alemana, cambio la hora oficial de España(gtm 0) a la hora de Berlin (gtm +1)
    Pero la gente siguió con sus costumbres sin importar la hora nueva y eso ha hecho que tengamos nuestro peculiar horario.
    Un saludo

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  115. Raul  23 February 2013 at

    Great post!. I like it!.

    Don’t forget the “aperitivo” and the large variety of “entrantes” or “entremeses” in family meals.


  116. Quique  23 February 2013 at

    You could have mentioned the salad in the center. My British relatives have finally learned over the years that you are not supposed to serve it on your plate, but just tuck in as if it were another tapa.

  117. Jose Miguel  23 February 2013 at

    Eres un capullo y un cobarde, Jonathan. Has ignorado todos los comentarios que te vinieron de Meneame. Simple, Deberias estar contento.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Muchas gracias por este comentario Jose Miguel. Acabas de enseñar a todo el mundo que tipo de persona eres. Creas o no, yo también tengo derecho a tener un fin de semana libre.

  118. Manolo el del bombo  23 February 2013 at

    Sin pan no hay comida, el cafe despues de comer no puede faltar, no solemos poner un bote de salsas y tabasco con todas las comidas, y un zumo de naranja y un sandwich no es una comida, es un desayuno.
    Buen articulo todo lo que dice es verdad :)

    Entonces no monto una fabrica de servilletas en Londres no?

  119. Javier  23 February 2013 at

    Toootally agree on all that, jonathan. Good job!!

  120. Pedro  23 February 2013 at

    Very good article, Steve, in Spain you can have also beer with the menu in a bar, but is not common in houses

  121. Laura  23 February 2013 at

    This is soooo accurate! I laughed a lot! The sobremesa is longer on weekends, I remember that once I was “having lunch and sobremesa” from 3pm to 7pm.

    But it’s not so weird to find people drinking coke, por example. It’s mostly served for the children and young people (I used to say to my grandfather that coke was my “wine” when I was a child). I love to drink something like that with “heavy” meals like pasta, pizza, barbecues and that kind of food.

    Pay attention to this spanish film scene. Here the popular spanish Chef Karlos Arguiñano says “¿Dónde se ha visto comer sin pan ni vino?” so you can see that this is absolutely truth! Theres no table in Spain without bread and wine/water.

    Great post, I love it!

  122. onespaniard  23 February 2013 at

    Im spanish, because i must tell you all the text is correct. Also, we dont serve wine or beer at the dinner because many times we have arrived at our house after stay at pub. In other situations, we go to the pub after the dinner, so we dont want drink more.

  123. Rick  23 February 2013 at

    I am surprised you did not mention what drives us most appart from the rest of the world: We have lunch at 3pm and dinner at 10-11pm!!
    It’s crazy, I am living in Germany and people have lunch at 12 and dinner at 6
    Weird difference

  124. Kalos  23 February 2013 at

    The first time I stayed in England, It was for a month with an English family -quite usual for learners of English. At the first meal, I noticed there was no napkin, nor water or bread. I helped myself everyday from the tap; I survived without my napkin… and the very only day I ate bread, it was on the last day, and the menu was… pizza!

  125. Raven  23 February 2013 at

    I’m spanish and I must say: you’re right =)
    ‘Sobremesa’ is very important. It’s like speaking time. And yes, it’s really long… hahaha

    By the way, sometimes, we take beer too.


  126. Ana  23 February 2013 at

    I laughed a lot while I was reading it Jonathan! I am Spanish but have been living in London for over 11 years and I agree with most of the things,that you mention in the article, especially the lack of napkins here in England, which I found unaccepatable at the beginning (I still do) My husband is English and adores the sobremesas but now I agree with him, they can go on for too long at times. Thanks for your views I enjoyed them very much. Saludos desde Londres.

  127. Mike S  23 February 2013 at

    True!! It is actually surprising that someone may get surprised by these “obvious” basic things 😉
    1-bread. We can eat without but we’ll miss it a looot.
    2-napkin. Eating without one can increase our levels of anxiety to a dangerous point
    3-water. True. Mixed water is the perfect point. Beer before eating is common but not much during.
    4-Sobremesa. Necessary. Week days: coffee time, unavoidable. Weekends: long cheating afternoons if social lunch. If alone: siesta!
    5-3pm lunchtime is true on weekends. Usually 1 pm during week days in Barcelona, 2pm in Madrid
    6-telediario. Sacred. On week ends: TV on the background during Sobremesa.

    • Mike S  23 February 2013 at

      Chatting, not cheating afternoons. O_o’

  128. Pilar  23 February 2013 at

    What a great article! I have been married to my English husband for 16 years now and you could not have described better the differences between both cultures at the table. Just one more difference , you like your meal and dishes piping hot, we are not that bothered…I had a laugh reading it.

  129. Rodolfo  24 February 2013 at

    It’s all sooo true! And you could also mention that dinner starts at 9PM.
    We receive many tourists and they have a hard time to find somewhere to have dinner at 6PM! Ja Ja! I guess that “Spain is different”!

  130. Maria  24 February 2013 at

    Thanks! I had a great time reading it. Only: we eat with beer too… The part where the dad will hush everyone is soooo true!

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  132. resped  24 February 2013 at

    Nice. I liked it. It fits my experience as Spanish. I was amused to see me reflected on these points.

  133. Lala  24 February 2013 at

    Really good this post! I’m mexican and I agree with the Napkin use and the “sobremesa” time (I love it!)… the rest of the habits were stranged for me when I came to live to Spain and sometimes I’m still asking “Why?”.

    I’ll be waiting for the second part, the people gave you great ideas! 😉

  134. Sam  24 February 2013 at

    I disagree with you.
    I think you needed to write something and you tried to take advantage of the fact that your wife is spanish. And on the way you explain some things just trying to make it strange, you have some replies saying that’s a usual way of eating in England or wherever.
    In Spain we think that all the food from England is s***, and i disagree, but that’s the mentality… you can’t change this, you’ve to live there to understand it. Probably you travel to Spain usually but you might don’t get the way we do the things.

    In big cities all people are stressed they don’t share anything with the familiy but the bad things that happened. In Spain we share the good and the bad after the meal because is the best way to share things, points of view, thoughts, etc. with the people you’re eating with(that probably are the most important people for you).
    Is VERY important to give your food a little rest while you enjoy “your people”. Ask any specialist about it. The way you live your life (being stressed even sleeping) is the best way to get old in mind… good to be fit, but…

    Anyway, you’ve introduced some English speakers to some spanish manners that are right in some way.

    • Jonathan  25 February 2013 at

      Actually you couldn’t be more wrong. I don’t write anything out of necessity – they are just small observations of daily life in Spain. Nothing more. By the way, I have lived in Spain for more than 5 years and intend to do so for the rest of my life. I feel more Spanish than English. I am not your typical guiri that lives on the Costa del Sol. I think I “get the way you do things”.

  135. maria  24 February 2013 at

    hi, I agree with Jonathan but if the lunch is in the weekend it can be later than 3pm…..because you can have the breakfast at 12pm…..Spain is different.

  136. Maria  24 February 2013 at

    Napkins are essential while eating and should be used mainly before drinking, so do not dirt the glass. It is a matter of hygiene and good manners.

  137. Paco  24 February 2013 at

    Hi, great article, but I have a comments I hope help you to understand Spanish habits a bit better.
    1. Napkins- how do Britons wipe their mouths and fingers? using their sleeves? This may be related to the fact that Spaniards talk a lot over meals, it’s disgusting to talk to someone whose mouth if full, or covered/stained with food.
    2. Water- being usually warm or hot (Andalusia) cool water is the ideal refreshment, when you serve water directly from the fridge is usually to cold, so mixing it with ambient temperature water (usually too warm for our weather) is a good option.
    3. Sobremesa- leaving aside cultural differences and eating times, Spaniards usually enjoy a good chat over meals with family and friends (maybe we talk too much), in fact, food is usually just an excuse for social interaction.

  138. Mariamoca  24 February 2013 at

    This reflects very well my family habits! I can relate to most of them… or rather, to how much I miss many of them since I moved to the UK. Especially, “sobremesa”, for which I haven’t even found a good way to translate the word or the concept. I only disagree on one thing, though: at least in the south of Spain it is very common to have lunch with beer. Even more so when the weather is hot. We don’t like our water too cold (and without lemon!), but a really cold beer is a must during the summer… or a “tinto de verano”. You should write another post about our customs when eating outside home. Restaurants and especially “tapear” is a totally different experience from what I have found in the UK so far :)

  139. Isaac  24 February 2013 at

    Just a great article. Everything you said is absolutely accurate in almost every home in Spain. I can’t wait to read “Part 2″

  140. gus  24 February 2013 at

    Something “terrible” about napkins in Spain: the progressive replacement of fabric napkins with paper napkins in one generation.

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  142. fanny palao  24 February 2013 at

    You nailed it!! Haha i just had a major laugh. But in my oppinion you missed the “siesta time” wich i would consider part of the dinning ritual and the “reposo” time that you have to wait after having lunch to go to the swimingpool or beach. All the spanish mothers agree that the reposo is the perfect time for your digestion to finish.

  143. Nut  24 February 2013 at

    Me he reido mucho con este texto, algunas cosas esteorotipos irreales, pero otras muy muy ciertas, solo hay un dato que te corregiria puesto que no es acertado, la mayoria de las familias españolas empiezan su comida a las 14:00 terminandola alrededor de las 15:00, por horarios de trabajo etc etc.


  144. Cheles  24 February 2013 at

    Usamos servilletas porque no somos unos cerdos con tal aire de superioridad como para mofarnos de que alguien sea más limpio que nosotros….eso sí, con humor inglés

  145. Beatriz  24 February 2013 at

    Jonathan, buenísimo!!

  146. andres  24 February 2013 at

    “los deportes” as you say it’s sacred, is the topic in “sombremesa”. everything is connected!!

  147. Ruth  24 February 2013 at

    I’m Asturian and lunch is between 1:00 and 2:30 the latest, and this is the rule unless you have unusual working schedules. I believe this is common in all the north. Restaurants will not serve lunch after 2:30 p.m.
    I more or less agree with the rest but for the sobremesa. In any home I’ve had the pleasure to be invited as well as my own, a TV on during any meal is just plain rude. Sobremesa is to enjoy a good chat with people you enjoy to sit at your table.

  148. Bonnie Pijuan  24 February 2013 at

    I have lived in Spain with my Spanish husband for five years. We have to disagree with almost everything you have stated.

  149. Sandra  24 February 2013 at

    I’m spanish and more or less this things are true but, I think it’s important to say that people don’t leave the table at mealtime because it’s typcal talk about something. Especially in hollidays, people can stay in the same chair for hours because the time passes so quickly if you are talking about interesting things… Typical meetings in Spain. It’s a good job! I enjoyed reading it.

  150. Nerea  24 February 2013 at

    absolutely 100% accurate!! well done, guiri!! :)

  151. Miguel Valentín-Gamazo  24 February 2013 at

    For us, the napkin is not only used to clean your flecks, but also before and after drinking (everytime you drink a sip). As one of my friends mentioned in facebook, you forgot to include the coffee after lunch. About the drinks, I agree with you. Albeit nowadays it is possible to see people drinking beer or coke during the lunch, it is still frown upon for many others. Only wine and water are common.

  152. Beatriz  24 February 2013 at

    I love your article 😀 I felt sooo Spanish when I read it, hahahahaha XDDD

    But you forgot something important: ‘siesta’ right after the “sobremesa”, hahahaha 😀

  153. sonsoles  24 February 2013 at

    I loved it!! hilarious! i think you forgot the tipical coffee, chupito and copa after lunch! chupito of Orujo, and bigs copas because Spain is the only place in EU where you can serve any amount of any alcoholic drinks and it is allow. (dont know if you understand what i meant) You can think about this point for your next article!

  154. Sandra  24 February 2013 at

    Being a Spaniard living in USA, this really made laugh, I guess you never do notice these typical things until someone else points them out. Each culture has their manners and customs, here in the US they have lunch at 12 and dinner at 7!

  155. Patricia  25 February 2013 at

    SPOT ON! Thanks for this lovely read.

  156. zordor  25 February 2013 at

    Man! I am a spaniard leaving in Japan you totally got it! This is spanish meal traditions! You made me feel homesick man! Good post!

    Thank you :)

  157. Spanish  25 February 2013 at

    And why you don’t use napkin? How do you clean your mouth? The bread… I understand! I’m sorry but the bread in UK is not the same… I don’t like it so if i live there I didn’t eat it too LOL

  158. Alicia  25 February 2013 at

    Good job! I had a good laugh at the bread part! I am always called a weirdo as I, being a spaniard, rarely eat any bread at lunch.
    I couldn’t agree more with your friend at the napkin thing: it drives me crazy to see how the glasses get all dirty by not using it…
    For the 2nd part I propose: coffe and chupito de hierbas 😉 I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

  159. Ciarán Dunne  25 February 2013 at

    Been living in Galicia for past 10 years and your observations are spot on. One aspect of the bread culture I don’t respect too much is that generally all restaurants will place this large basket of bread in front of you, regardless of what kind of food you’ve ordered and also oblivious to the fact that you may not want a basket of bread to go with your lasagne, but then secretly add on anything from 3 to 6 euros to your bill!

    • Adrian  6 March 2013 at

      Yes, there exists that odd habit. People should complain when it happens. You are right!

      Anyway, the food is exquisite in Galicia 😉

  160. Eva BRuna  25 February 2013 at

    This is sooo sooo good!
    We even had it translate!

  161. Meri  25 February 2013 at

    Great! You have to add about the salad and the salad dressing. We put the salad in the middle of the table and everybody take salad with their own fork. And we put the salad dressing on the salad with a lot of olive oil on it.

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  163. Carmen  25 February 2013 at

    Great post!
    I´m spanish, I`m not able to eat without water, a napkin, even bread when I`m not on diet.
    The first time I went to England I became crazy because I couldn`t find that things on a table. It was something unbeliveable for me. So it was one of the things I found very different from us.
    We love this party lunch with family or friends. It`s a pity not be able to do this from monday to friday because work. But on the weekend that`s one of the things we love to do. It´s a way to spend our free time different from duty.
    My foreigner friends from England, Japan, France and Germany at first became a quite sock with this, but they get used to it very soon, and finally even love this way of live.
    On saterday and sunday, At least in little cities, we love go out with family or friends for “tomar el aperitivo” we drink beer, or bermut with some tapas. Later we go home for having lunch the way you say, of course with water, wine, bread and napkin. And in the end “cafe y copa”, as some people had said before. But the important thing for us is being together chating and knowing from other people, That the best way for us to comunicate with other people.
    I have to say I love it, and I expect we keep this for ages.

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  165. Pedro  25 February 2013 at

    well said Jonathan! everything is so true! usually people eat at 3pm only on Saturday or Sunday with family members…..from Monday to Friday it is between 1pm and 2pm.

    as for “del tiempo” it depends on the region or province or the age of the person who asks, i mean, most people ask for “agua natural”, but some of the elderly say “agua del tiempo” as it is a very old way of it….anyway both mean the same.

    great that you live in Leon….that part of Spain is beautiful with lots of medieval villages and castles from the old kingdom of Castile……some people, above all Brits, think that the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca are the real Spain with that too much beach tourism (they’re wrong)….real Spain is Castilla!


  166. Alberto  25 February 2013 at

    The best of all, the last sentence!!

    “Followed by the weather: hot in the south, cold in Leon, Burgos and Soria, and raining in Galicia and Asturias.”

    I’am from León, by the way. Great Post!!! 😉

  167. Teo Romera  25 February 2013 at

    I am from Spain an I am impressed. You perfectly depicted eating habits in my house! Absolutely nailed it :)

  168. paco  25 February 2013 at

    lo has clavado colega

  169. Ana  25 February 2013 at

    hahaha, or jajaja.nailed it!
    It´s so true, although as Spaniard I do not eat bread unless I am very hungry.
    My longest “sobremesa” was 5 hours long, we had some guests, spanish guests.

    What about the still water? In a restaurant in central Europe, you ask for water and they bring water sparkling water, or as spaniards say “with bubbles”. People, if you go to a spanish restaurant or bar you will get still water, unless otherwise specified.

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  172. Alba  25 February 2013 at

    So true everything you wrote! I can’t stop laughing about “Followed by the weather: hot in the south, cold in Leon, Burgos and Soria, and raining in Galicia and Asturias.” 😀

  173. meinemamimemima  25 February 2013 at

    Ruth i am from Asturias as well and everyone eats at … but my parents, they eat at 3.30. Horrible!

  174. crrodriguez  26 February 2013 at

    This advice and explanations also apply if you plan to visit southamerica, where the habits are pretty similar.

  175. LordIgor  26 February 2013 at

    It’s great! The article is very funny. I myself have been reflected in some comments. It is the beauty of diversity. Congrats. Just to add something: the “Sobremesa” can be accompanied with something as English as a gin and tonic. Tanqueray with Schweeppes for me, please. If good friends after that will come another and another and another! And the “siesta” al carajo, evening al carajo, dinner al carajo! You seem to like Spain and it seems you have sympathy to us. Do not miss out!

  176. Ht  26 February 2013 at

    Lol, nice!
    Maybe You should make another chapter, with the ideas of the people who comments here… I’m Spanish, and all is completely true, but I disagree about using bread with the desert, that’s not polite, but OK, people do it. And in my family people eat with wine, or beer (it depends on the kind of food), not always and maybe just a can each person or every two people.

    More to add: coffee time required, siesta or “reposar la comida”, you must eat with the two hands ON the table, never under. What about the aperitivo? The chupitos in la sobremesa? Here in Galicia we add alcohol to the coffee, we have liquor of coffee or Orujo, that’s nice at the ending of a banquete. What about adding oil instead of butter to mostly everything? … So many strange things we do in Spain! Maybe you should talk about the octopus “to the party” lol I read that once in a restaurant.

    A thing that really shocked me when I went to England, was that there are no napkins in mc Donald’s, when in Spain I use dozens of them!!!
    Another thing is that you don’t eat pipas!!!

    Ciaran, normally, people don’t have to pay for the bread you don’t order, they can’t add it on your bill. It’s true that in many places waiters take their own tips, what I found unacceptable and brings me shame… But, the law is with you, ask them to check the bill, quéjate, and if it doesn’t work ask for la hoja de reclamación, or don’t pay that quantity… But in my opinion, the lasagna is much more better with bread 😉

  177. Eduardo moreno  26 February 2013 at

    Jonathan, congrats on an amusing and eye-opening post, man. It saddens me that some people commenting here (most of them, Spanish) don’t see the value in foreigners showing us how we really are. And it saddens me even more that you have taken issue with them. Anyway, suggestions for part2: the siesta issue; the host/mother/person in charge of cooking who will try to stuff you up to bursting point; the socially accepted practice of drinking alcohol at lunchtime; the common practice of cooking more than what you think you’ll need, just in case someone else turns up for lunch or dinner (donde comen 4, comen 5); sharing plates of food between two or more people; bill-paying etiquette; tapas-eating etiquette (like throwing the napkin on the floor). Hope it helps an looking 4ward to your next one.

    • Jonathan  26 February 2013 at

      Great ideas – the list is growing quickly.

  178. Olaia  26 February 2013 at

    You are a clever cultural observer, Jonathan! I’m Spanish and I don’t agree with those minority but offensive comments some people posted. Your article made smile, laugh and feel homesick and although these might be sterotypes and different habits might be followed in some Spanish or English households, I think what you portrayed is really common.

    So much so that, if you don’t mind, I would like to share your article with my university students here in India. I would like to use it to show them some Spanish cultural habits and as a translation exercise from English into Spanish.

    Thanks a lot and please, do keep on amusing us with witty, humorous articles without complexes. :)

    • Jonathan  26 February 2013 at

      That would be great Olaia – you are most welcome. If you like, when you have the translation, you can post it here in the comments. The ABC article translated some of the post, but not the whole thing. I’ll be interested to see if they are capable of translating the ‘tone’ of the post well.

      • Olaia  1 March 2013 at

        Great idea! I’ll tell my students to post their translations themselves. I’m sure (or rather hope) now they will be more excited about the translation than if it only was a class exercise. :)

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  180. Juan Revenga  26 February 2013 at

    Hi Jonathan

    Congratulations for your job. I really love your original post about our top six eathings habits in Spain. I`ve made a post with my particular point of view about it. You can see it here (
    Congratulations on your work. Keep it up. Thanks

  181. Ruben  26 February 2013 at

    Im Spanish. This post it is not true. I get my luch at 13h everyday. Only a few days Im eating with bread. I never stay in the table after lunch….and I never do la siesta…

    The english people: always drink beer? always get a tea at 17h? …stereotypes…

  182. Estorbin  26 February 2013 at

    real or unreal, there are a lot of all these in Spain. I’m spanish.

  183. Virginia Adrada  26 February 2013 at

    Just loved it! I have not come across with the water thing, but it is true that this is changing now. Few years ago when a friend visited me (she is from UK) we went to a restaurant and she was surprised that mostly everyone was eating with water, but only a couple a months ago went to the same place, I observe now a lot more the eating habits beacause i work in something related, and found that most people were drinking with wine, not/not only water.
    Eating time is also changing, specially weekdays when you have to work. Weekends are still remain the same.
    Love the “sobremesa” habit and hope we’ll never lose it 😉
    In UK you have some weird eating habits, I must say. Please, no offense! I’m just doing a little of a jok ;). We are different and that’s the good thing about us, both!

    Congrats for the post!


  184. Antonio  26 February 2013 at

    Ha ha ha ha, this is so real! I´m spanish, and I can confirm that this is 100% true. About the “telediario”: on Sunday, when I eat with my family in my farm, my dad likes to turn on the TV to see (TV is back of him, so he can´t watch it) and “listen” (but he says me to put a very slow volume -about a 10%- because familiar meeting is for talk around us) Pedro Piqueras.

  185. Armando  26 February 2013 at

    Brilliant. Well done.

  186. coazervado  26 February 2013 at

    You got it… As other fellows said, you missed the “café, copa y puro”, but you probably could not hold the “sobremesa” any longer 😛

  187. francisco jose  26 February 2013 at

    The use of the bread is true. I don´t eat much bread, sometimes any, but I need to have the piece of bread near my hands. My sister told me that in Germany the people were surprise when she drinks water without gas and directly from the tap. The water is also very important, the english writer Gerald Brenan said that in Spain the people talk about water as if were wine, discussing what water is the best (brand, spring). The 3 AM Lunch is because we divided the work time in two periods, one in the morning and the second in the evening, and lunch is the strongest meal; that means we need at leas two hour for going to your home prepearing the food, stay with the family , have a siesta ang go back to your work. A spaniard can think this is foolish when the workplace is far from home. Thanks for your article and sorry for my english.

  188. David  26 February 2013 at

    Hello, I’m Spanish and i’m very proud of it, i’d like to say the same about our politicians, but that’s not the point.
    Johnatan, all that you’ve said it’s true, and i would like to practice it every day, but sadly i’ve to eat from monday to friday from 14 to 15h, because of my job. Some weekends i go with my girlfriend to her parent’s house and we certainly eat at 15 some days even at 16h, and then we have desserts, coffee and we do the sobremesa having a glass of liquour, that’s because we like to have a little lunch at 12, tapas, beer and stuff, it’s and old Spanish habit like siesta and for the most of Spaniards is sacred, i don’t really think that this article is offensive, are just observations and i think that Europeans love our way of life, that’s why Alicante is literally invaded by English and Germans in summer

  189. El granaíno  26 February 2013 at

    Interesante texto el suyo. Y gracioso.
    Olvidó la comida de “picoteo”, las tapitas del bar, la comida como puesta al día de los chistes y chismorreos, el desayuno de pan con aceite y sal, el sagrado café con leche, el piscolavis, la tortilla española, el menú de pan (casero, rústico, de horno de leña, gallego, pan cateto, hogaza, pistola, bollitos, salaíllas, etc).
    Y la institución más sagrada: la paella de los domigos,
    Conocí a un italiano que comió paella por primera vez en Afganistán. Era Teniente médico del ejército italiano y en cierta ocasión coincidieron con una patrulla del ejército español en lo alto de un risco afgano. Era domingo y los españoles sacaron arroz, “avíos de paella” y una amplia sartén plana… Desde entonces ama la paella igualito que a “la sua mamma”.

  190. Ingrid  27 February 2013 at

    WOW! Congratulations! You nailed it!

    And certainly, I don’t understand the craze that we the Spanish have lunch with bread!

    But the napkins are essential!! I can’t imagine eating without them!

    LOL! Very good article…and so interesting…want to read more about us pleaseee..

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  192. kiermel  2 March 2013 at

    What surprises to me, is that surprise you that we use napkins. You don’t clean yourself?. Hands and mouth getting dirty to you. I don’t understand.
    Sorry for my bad english.

  193. Mercius  3 March 2013 at

    This article is very funny!!!! I’ve laughed a lot!!! It’s great!
    Thank you for this web. And sorry for my English! 😉

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  195. Cristina  5 March 2013 at

    I have laughed a lot, and it is pretty accurate, except for the sobremesa… unluckily for most of us, that nice extended chat that follows a meal generally happens after eating with friends or family in a social occasion. If you are at work, you may have a coffee right after the last dish and that’s the end of lunchtime, and same if you are at home (except obviously for your wife :).
    Traditionally, at home, the granmas or moms (as tradition is ALWAYS sexist, at least over here) demand to pick up the the dishes, cutlery, glasses and all the stuff to wash it as soon as everybody is done. If you have a guest at home, you move to another table and have a sobremesa with coffee only.

    The reason why many Spaniards do not want to drink too cold water is because it may cause them throath problems. I suppose this may be because our ancestors did not have fridges.

    Real food is to be eaten with water of wine (beer is admitted but not so usual), unless you are a kid and you don’t know anything better and they let you have coca-cola with your pizza. In special ocassions… better wine :)

    And the news are on and nobody pays attention to them because right after the news they show the sport news and the weather forecast… and you can’t go over there without knowing the results of la liga and the weather prediction, what would you talk about with strangers then? :)

  196. Jon Phillipson Brown  9 March 2013 at

    Excellent article and very accurate at least from my perspective of living in Asturias. Two little things I would add are:

    as at least one other person has mentioned, Spaniards tend to speak (very, it seems to me) loudly whilst eating

    and secondly that it seems absolutely de rigueur to wish other diners “que aproveche” or “buen aprovecho” and to thank others who wish it for you.

  197. Sol  11 March 2013 at

    Loved your post! Don’t pay attention to the nasty comments. Not only they don’t have sense of humour, probably they are not as clean as they say they are. Or they have a lack of “comprensión lectora”. I recommend these guys the Xenophobe’s Guides series. The one about the Spanish is hilarious.

    I am a Spaniard living in London since 2010 and lived in US as well. I agree with most of your observations but some customs vary depending on the region you live, your age and if you live in a city or village. I am from Barcelona city centre and at home we’ve always eaten with water but not from the tap. Tap water in Barcelona is undrinkable, tastes like chlorine so everybody I know buy bottled water. When asked about temperature we say “natural” instead of “del tiempo”. In winter we drink it room temperature and in summer we mixed it with cold water from the fridge. In my family cola or fanta was drank on Sundays as a treat but I am in my late forties. When my father was alive he had vino con gaseosa (La Casera, of course). Sometimes we have beer and “claras” (beer with lemonade) with our meals.

    Bread is always on the table, but not always eaten. Here in the UK I’ve seen many people eating soup with bread, and beans on toast!

    I would say that for many Spaniards 2pm is lunch time but many offices close from 2pm to 4pm so 3pm would be an average time for lunch. For me “mediodia” is still 2pm and not 12pm. City people cannot have sobremesas during week days but in family reunions they can last for hours.

    The English I know use napkins. I live alone and I don’t use napkins at home unless I use my hands or is something very greasy, then I use kitchen roll. Most of the time I don’t drink with meals so I don’t leave grease marks on the glass but you can eat without messing your mouth. In the UK you find napkins in all restaurants and bars. For those who said that the English are pigs: I’ve seen lots used paper napkins on the floor of many bars in Spain, also empty sugar sachets, cigarette butts, etc. Who are the pigs?

    Yes, we like talking and we are noisy. Many Spaniards have the tv on for background noise… all day!

    Hope you write part 2!


  198. Javi  13 April 2013 at

    Just lovely! :)

  199. Cesca  1 May 2013 at

    Very Spanish indeed and typical of my family!

    I’m Spanish-Filipino engaged to a British. Man, I get you!!! :)

    We live in the Philippines, but even here we share common eating habits, traditions and culture in the dining table.

    Just a side note – guess not everyone will definitely get your humorous tone unless they’ve the brains to (pun intended) :)

  200. neus  11 June 2013 at

    Bread and napkins are always on the table. I’d add also salad in the middle of the table, where everybody can get it.

    Of course water to drink, and NEVER, EVER milk!

    Good article!!

  201. Laura Santos  28 June 2013 at

    Wow, thanks for such a great article!.

    I’m Spanish, I live in The Netherlands with my Dutch boyfriend. This is not England but as I can read in your article many things (no napkins, drinking water at the table and the lack of sobremesa for example) are here the same as in your country.

    For my boyfriend is difficult to understand that I don’t jump from my chair when we finished eating (it takes me around five minutes to leave the table…).

    Thanks, I loved to read it!

  202. Fernando Tenorio Sánchez  24 July 2013 at

    Porque en España se utiliza servilleta y en Inglaterra no, muy facil la servilleta es para limpiarse en España se come y se come bien en Inglaterra comparado con España comer lo que se dice comer no se come mucho, entonce la servilleta sobra.

  203. pepe  7 October 2013 at

    Great analysis. I found it hilarious and so accurate at the same time. I remember I was about 13 the first time I went to England and we were staying at a student residence. We always wanted to sit next to the window to use the curtains to wipe our hands as the was no napkins. :0

  204. noemi  8 December 2013 at

    I am a Spaniard living in Boston, US, and thanks for this article! I am back in a week for Christmas and I will practice happily all those habits that you mention!

    Thanks for a funny and positive work :)

  205. marcelino delgado  11 December 2013 at

    Very funny and accurate description of Spanish manners at table and so forth. I am originally from Spain and I couldn´t agree more. Their regimented ways used to drive my Canadian wife and me up the wall. God help you if you need a meal after 4.00 pm.

  206. Luis  15 April 2014 at

    Great work. I’m from Spain (I’m from Saragossa or “Zaragoza”) and I really have most of this habits.
    We don’t do all of them everyday (the “sobremesa” is only when we are whit family or friends, with time).
    I was surprised by the comment on the use of napkins, true, although we don’t always use them (not always spot us) we always put them on the table.

  207. irene  23 April 2014 at

    I’m Spanish and I do totally agree with most of the eating customs you’ve talked about but I must say that some of them are not that popular, for exemple there is a lot of people who actually eat at 2pm and not 3pm, although as most of us take a long time for finishing eating, at 3pm we are STILL having lunch.
    Also, about the news, it’s true that families that are used to watch TV while having lunch or dinner tend to put on the “telediario”, but there are many other families that don’t have that custom and prefer just to talk when they are at the table, that is very typical from here too.
    Anyway, the article is great and very funny, whereas it’s not offensive at all, so well done and my congratulations! :)

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  209. Shakti  15 August 2014 at

    We in India also drink mixed water… Especially in Mumbai. So not surprising.

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