Ever heard a Spaniard say: “España no es Europa”? Literally translated it means: “Spain isn’t Europe.” You might be thinking: “Wait, what? Did I lose all of my topographical skills?” The answer is no, not at all! Spain is definitely part of Europe – however, Spanish people have a very different lifestyle compared to other Europeans. It all starts with the food culture, you’re gonna want to know a thing or two about the typical mealtimes, so today I’ll tell you exactly when to eat in Valencia.
I

’m definitely not the only one who’s loving the Valencian lifestyle, there’s a reason why so many foreigners stick around – one of them being the food culture.

The daily routines in Spain rely on mealtimes. Yes, that’s how important food is to Spaniards. If you wanna completely adjust to the culture, get used to eating several times a day and changing your mealtimes. Might be very pleasant for some of you…

5 different, sacred mealtimes
Back in 2017, when I was working as an au pair for a Valencian family, I realized that there were 5 different, sacred mealtimes in Spain. I mean…I was living the traditional, Spanish life – there was no escaping it (and I definitely wasn’t complaining).
I also learned what all those mealtimes were called and that it’s not very common to just say: “let’s eat.” Oh no, you’re gonna want to give all those different types of meals some credit. Sounds confusing? Very understandable, it was confusing to me when my Spanish was basically non-existent. 
So, let’s give an example. You wanna go out for breakfast and say: “let’s eat.” 
Now, in Spanish, it’s better to say “vamos a desayunar” – which means: “let’s have breakfast.” Desayunar is a verb and desayuno is a noun. There you go, a free Spanish mini-lesson!

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t mind learning a couple of new words and joining this lifestyle if that means you can enjoy all of Valencia’s deliciousness. 

Closed doors
Before I’ll reveal the Spanish mealtimes, let me tell you something about the restaurants here. A lot of foreigners bump into this inconvenience: restaurants being closed at certain times. Just when you thought you were gonna have a delicious meal, you’re standing in front of a closed door. “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a closed door, asking it to open”, is what I remember saying to myself when that happened to me. And it didn’t happen just once, yeah, that’s never fun. It has everything to do with the, as you’re probably expecting now, Spanish mealtimes. However, some restaurants stay open all day – so I’d either advise you to check the opening hours or just start eating like a local. 

Okay, here we go! It’s time for the big reveal. Ready to say hello to your new life(style)?

Horchata with ice cream, buñuelos and fartons. Can it get more Valencian?


Desayuno 7:00 to 9:00
Here it is again, our beloved desayuno, which means breakfast. It’s usually a sweet snack or tostada con tomate (toasted bread with fresh tomato, olive oil, and salt) accompanied by the classic café con leche (coffee with milk) or fresh, Valencian orange juice.

Almuerzo 10:30 to 12:00
Almuerzo
, in Spain, means mid-morning snack (in other Spanish-speaking countries, it means lunch), it’s basically second breakfast. What genius came up with this? Can I be friends with him, por favor?
You’ll often find people eating a sandwich around this time. There are two different types of sandwiches in Spain: a sandwich (yes, they use this English word) or a bocadillo. A bocadillo is a baguette cut in half, usually filled with a tortilla, manchego cheese, or serrano ham, it’s quite simple but very flavorful. Try it out, it might leave you breadless ;-) 

Comida 13:00 to 16:00
Comida means lunch. It’s the heaviest, most important, and sacred meal of the day. Spaniards really take their time for it –  it’s the perfect moment to spend some quality time with their families and/or friends. 
Lunch is usually made up of a few courses such as an appetizer, main course, and dessert. In restaurants, you’ll often see the phrase menú del día, which means: menu of the day. If you decide to go for those menus, you’ll get a real taste of the Spanish cuisine, plus, they’re often very cheap. That’s a great bonus, right?
Speaking of Spanish cuisine, some traditional Valencian lunch meals are Paella, Arroz al Horno, and Fideuà. If you wanna know more, click on the meals to find out.

Merienda 17:30 to 19:00
If you’ve had a late, heavy lunch, you’re probably not really up for merienda (which is a late-afternoon snack). However, if you’ve had lunch between 13:00 and 15:00, you might be looking for a good excuse to take another break while eating candies, pastries, or small sandwiches. Wanna go all Valencian? Go grab some horchata and fartons.

Have you ever tried gazpacho? Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

Cena 20:30 to 22:30
Cena (
dinner) is either a light meal or a nice mix of tapas that you share with your family or friends. 
A tapa is a small snack, think of: croquetas, mussels, cheeses, patatas bravas, cured meats, olives, little pieces of octopus, gazpacho, calamari or gambas al ajillo.
There’s much more to try, though, so do keep an eye on those tapas menus! 

During the weekends, people usually eat a bit later. Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned in Valencia, it’s that you should never be in a hurry – take it easy and enjoy your light meal. 

The question is: vamos a desayunar, almorzar, comer, merendar, o cenar? ;-)

Un abrazo,

Stephanie

Posted 
Apr 5, 2022
 in 
Culture & Must sees
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