Food in Spain is so much more than sangria and paella (although these things are delicious and not to be discounted by any means). Spain is special in that it packs a ridiculous amount of unbelievable food into a relatively small land area – from pinxtos in Basque country to agua fresca in Valencia and everything in between, here are 20 hilarious things about food you’ll only understand if you’ve lived in the sunniest place on earth.
1. Café granizado is literally crack
Imagine the most delicious iced coffee ever. Now pulverize it into a slushy. That is café granizado, and when it’s 110º in Madrid, there is literally nothing like it. Límon granizado is good too, but there’s no comparison to the coffee flavor. I would drink this out of a trough. Happily.
2. When you order fish, you’re gonna get the whole fish
And you won’t know what you’re ordering, either. But let me tell you, salmonetes does not mean salmon, and yes, you’re supposed to eat the everything but the head.
3. Calamari in America ≠ calamari in Spain
You probably weren’t expecting two or three whole little squids on your plate, but here they are. Eat them, they’re way better than the fried version.
4. Every salad you order will have the same ingredients
Iceberg lettuce, onion, canned corn, hard boiled egg, shredded carrots, tomatoes, green olives and an entire can of tuna in olive oil. Want something else? Too bad.
5. Jamón-flavored chips are a way of life
Hey, don’t knock ’em til you try ’em. Yes, they smell like Beggin Strips, but the flavor is incomparable. Hey Lays, how can we get some of these in America?
6. Ensalada rusa (Russian salad) is in no way a salad
One pound of mayo mixed with a few canned vegetables, tuna and boiled potatoes? Sure, let’s call that a salad.
7. Milka chocolate will be the reason you leave Spain with 13 cavities
Milka chocolate is the greatest thing in the history of the universe and if you disagree I will fight you. Long live Milka + Oreo.
8. You know never to touch the bread in restaurants
Don’t even look at it. They’ll know, and they’ll charge you for it.
9. Valencia orange juice has ruined you for life
There is nothing that compares to the sweet, sweet nectar of freshly squeezed Valencia orange juice. Simply Orange can sit down now.
10. Café con leche or café cortado run through your veins
If you’re not drinking one for breakfast, one for your mid-morning snack, one after lunch and one in the afternoon to perk you up before dinner, are you even in Spain?
11. Lunch is at 2 pm and dinner is at 10 pm
Lunch is a giant meal, more commonly referred to as comida, and it’s everything your little heart (and rumbling stomach) could ever want. Dinner is more like a snack, because you’re probably still digesting eight hours later.
12. Making friends with the mercado vendors = free treats
The mercado is definitely the best part of Spain (in my humble opinion). No matter what city you’re in, there’s always a mercado that is filled to the brim with everything from fresh produce to nuts to eggs to baked goods to entire sides of lamb. I’ve made friends with the vendors in every city I’ve lived in and gotten tons of free stuff (and once, a bite of a sandwich and a free bottle of wine) as a result.
13. You have to work to spend 30€ at the grocery store
Seriously – you have to work REALLY hard. Food is so unbelievably inexpensive in Spain. Why can’t America be like this? Why do apples cost $5 a piece?
14. You have a new appreciation for olive oil
You’re going to go through about a bottle a week, and that’s okay. Because it goes on everything. And it’s delicious.
15. You know that bacon-wrapped dates are not A Thing and judge anyone who thinks they are a real tapa
Americans seem to think that wrapping a slice of Oscar Meyer around a crappy dried out date = Spanish food, but you know that’s not a real thing. Slices of fatty, juicy iberico pork on toasted bread with olive oil? Yes. Pan con tomate? Yes. Ajo blanco? Yes. Bacon wrapped dates? NO.
16. ALLLL the flavors of Fanta
Fanta Limon makes your heart beat faster and Orange Fanta tastes more like Orangina than Sunkist.
17. You’re very closely aligned with either arroz negro or paella and refuse to budge
I’m team arroz negro, but if you like mushy peas and crunchy rice, fine. We can all agree, though, that rabbit paella is more bone than anything else and an all-around disappointment.
18. One. Euro. Boxed. Wine.
19. There is mayo EVERYWHERE
Spaniards. Love. Mayo. Why? Maybe we’ll never know, but I have been personally victimized by mayo-logged sandwiches across the country.
20. If you want a sandwich with more than two ingredients, good luck
Bocadillo de jamon? Ok. Bocadillo de queso? Sure. Bocadillo de jamon y queso? Fine, but only because it’s a classic. Bocadillo de jamon, queso y tomate? Dream big.