Brent Graham ’09 – There are a lot of similarities between the US and Spain but there are also many differences. One such difference is daily schedule. While in the US I was accustomed to a schedule of waking up at 9am for work and going to bed around midnight. Here that schedule would be nothing short of impossible to keep.
The typical day in Spain will begin around 8am. After getting ready and eating or buying a breakfast consisting of toast and coffee, digestive cookies with milk and juice, or, if it is a special occasion, churros and chocolate or coffee, the typical Spaniard will head off to work around 9. Some students and working adults will forgo the early breakfast and take a break at 11 to have breakfast at a restaurant.
The main meal of the day, la comida, is typically eaten at the beginning of the siesta which begins around 2 in the afternoon. La comida consists of two plates, bread, water and fruit for dessert. The first plate or “primero plato” usually consists of a starter such as a salad of some sort or a glass of gazpacho. In my homestay I will normally have a bowl of soup or gazpacho. On occasion I will eat salad. The “segundo plato” is the main course. Some of the typical dishes include paella, tortilla de patatas or fish and vegetables. I have had each and each is delicious. I have also had meatballs in an acorn sauce over rice, pork tenderloin with spaghetti and, my personal favorite, chicken with rice and lentils. The main thing to remember when eating in Spain is that the backbone of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. In my house we go through 2L of olive oil every 8-10 days, and there are only 3 of us. I must also say that the food never tastes or feels greasy like some food cooked with or in oil at home.
After a quick nap I have to go to class at 4 but siesta typically last till 5 in Granada. At this time it is also common for the people here to have merienda. It is a light meal consisting of a bocadillo, sandwich, or small pastry and coffee. It is traditional to eat this meal at a café with friends. I have class during this time so am not able to do this but on the weekends sometimes I will go for shawarma with my friends. For those that do not know shawarma a shaved chicken sandwich on pita bread or rolled up in lafa with assorted vegetables and two sauces, one that is a yogurt base and another that is spicy. I prefer to eat mine with cheese but without is good too.
La cena, or dinner, is not eaten until late. I normally eat at 10 but typically no one eats before nine and is done by eleven. This meal is generally lighter than the afternoon meal and in my house consists of one dish with bread and water.
After dinner many people will go out for tapas. Tapas are small amounts of food served with drinks at bars and are served with soft drinks as well as with alcohol. Originally tapas were a piece of bread that was placed over the mouth of your cup to prevent flies from falling into your drink. Another theory is that a king decided he didn’t want people getting too drunk and passed a law that required food to be served with alcohol to prevent people from getting too drunk. Either way, in Granada tapas are a nightly occurrence for college students and their friends. I have gone out most nights staying in only when really tired or finishing homework. Another interesting fact about tapas is that here in Granada they are free. This is a tradition common only in Andalucia to my knowledge. In Madrid for instance you have to ask for a tapa and pay for it.
If the tapas bar are not your style you can opt on Thursday and Friday nights to go to the botellón which is the way to meet friends and drink for cheap. The botellón is held in a park and is basically a BYOB party with a lot of people. It is a great way to meet the natives and practice Spanish. Recently however a law was passes prohibiting a botellón anywhere but in one park on the south side of the city. After the tapas bars close or the botellón winds down around 2 or 3 in the morning the discotecas or dance clubs open. These clubs in some cases are open until 8am or later.
I have enjoyed every aspect of the Spanish schedule so far. My favorite part of the week is the botellón on Thursdays and Fridays. I have met many friendly and funny Grenadinos there. Well it is 11:30 and I am meeting my friends in half an hour to get tapas. Thank you to all who are still reading, and I will write again soon. (Sorry there aren’t any pictures)