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4 Foods to Try in Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

When it comes to mealtime, the Spanish really know what they’re doing. Meals are lengthy, consisting of multiple courses, or a selection of tapas if you prefer, each dish meant to be lingered over and savored. Afterwards, the sobremesa is observed – a period of time following the meal reserved for conversation over the table. (Back home we’d call this letting our stomachs settle.) Mealtime is a social occasion – dining out with friends and family, even during the week, is a very popular custom which explains why you’ll often find, even on a Tuesday night away from the touristy areas, restaurants are still bursting with lively patrons late into the evening.

Which brings me to my next point – meals in Spain, both lunch and dinner, are commonly eaten much later than what we’re used to in America and the UK. Lunchtime is typically served between 2pm and 4pm, which coincides with the famous Spanish siesta, the time during the late afternoon when businesses and shops close for 2-3 hours for an extended break. (FYI: Restaurants take their siesta in between lunchtime and dinnertime, so you might have a bit of trouble finding a kitchen that’s open between 5pm and 8pm. Many bars stay open offering drinks and tapas, though, so you won’t have to starve if you can’t eat at a customary time!) As far as dinnertime, the Spanish don’t sit down for their evening meal until 9pm at the earliest, but sometimes even as late as 11pm. It’s very common for these evening meals to stretch on for hours, too, particularly when in the company of good friends.

So what does one eat at these mealtimes? That, I’m sure, varies from region to region, but here are 4 foods to try in Andalusia that’ll give you a delicious taste of Spanish culture!

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

Churros

Churros, the Spanish breakfast of champions (and canines!), are strips of dough, fried up and served with your choice of what to dip them in. We had these on three different occasions and each time they were a little different. We tried churros sprinkled in sugar only, churros with a thick chocolate dipping sauce, and churros with a thinner, hot cocoa consistency dipping sauce that we could drink the leftovers of when we were done. All were good, but the clear winner for us was the thick chocolate sauce – it made for such a decadent breakfast that we made it to the 2pm lunchtime hour with no trouble at all. Two other common options for dipping churros are café con leche (coffee with milk) and Nutella. My favorite part – they aren’t stingy with the chocolate! We had more than enough to cover our churros with!

Before you order your churros, check the price. If the price isn’t listed on the menu (that’s not uncommon), just ask, ¿Cuánto cuesta? or ¿Cuánto es? if your server doesn’t speak English. We made the mistake of not asking once and paid €5 for four tiny little churros with no sauce. In general, for a good-sized serving of churros con chocolate in Andalusia you can expect to pay around €4 per order.

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain 4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

Tapas

In Spain, lunchtime is typically the biggest meal of the day consisting of a soup or salad starter, the main course, and then a small dessert afterwards. A lighter meal, or tapas (small dishes), are usually on the order for dinner. But for us, since we love to try so many different things, we chose tapas for both meals. They’re the perfect choice for indecisive people – instead of only one dish, I got to choose 2-3 every time!

Even though it’s customary in Spain to have a bigger meal at lunchtime, we can’t shed our American customs quite so easily. We would always choose the lighter, cheaper options for this meal – usually montaditos (small sandwiches), a slice of tortilla (Spanish omelette), papas fritas (fries/chips) with Aoli sauce, or other tiny portions of regular meals, like the tuna and peppers dish above. These type of tapas typically cost around €1-3 per portion. For lunch, two small tapas each were plenty to fill us up.

I don’t know if you’ve recognized it yet, but eating in Spain is cheap. Or at least it can be if you stay away from the more expensive bars and restaurants. We ate our breakfasts and lunches at outdoor cafes and never spent more than €15 total for either. It was dinnertime when we splurged a little more for the “fancier” tapas.

“Fancy” because we were still only hitting up the middle of the road restaurants where tapas range from €5-6 per portion. (We’re frugal travelers, what can I say?) This is when we’d order the more filling tapas – things like patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), brochetas de pollo (chicken kabobs), full-sized tortillas, and albóndigas (meatballs). I don’t even really like meatballs – I just ordered them so I could say albóndigas at least once in Spain. (It’s fun to say – seriously, try it!)

Nearly every time we ate lunch or dinner in Spain, pan and aceitunas (bread and olives) were provided free of charge with our meal. Having become accustomed to the UK’s lack of free bread with meals, the first time this happened in Spain, I tried to tell our server that it wasn’t part of our order and was then told it comes gratis in Spain. I love countries that value bread as much as I do!

At dinner, we’d each choose 2-3 small tapas for our meal, or one large and one small. Sharing is encouraged, of course. Speaking of sharing – the following Spanish meal is one that you’ll commonly see shared between multiple people…

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

Paella

Paella is one of my favorite foods. Not just favorite Spanish foods, but favorite foods out of all the foods. You can order this up in Spain as a single serving or as a huge dish in the center of the table to be shared. Either way – it’s a whole lot of food and very filling. We ordered ours with a side of croquettes and none of us could entirely finish off our food. There are a few different types of paella – typically meat (chicken and rabbit), seafood, or a mixture of the two. Sometimes a restaurant will simply call it paella and unless you know how to ask, you won’t know what kind you’re getting, but unless you’re vegetarian or have allergies, it won’t matter because they’re all good! Expect to pay around €5-6 for a single serving or €22-25 for a huge dish to share. (For the record, if it were my choice, I’d go for the seafood paella every time!)

4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

Helado

It’s the middle of August in Spain. You’ve finished your evening meal and you’re not quite ready to return back to the hotel room, but what else is there to do if you’re not into the bar/club scene? One word – helado. Chain and independent ice cream/frozen yogurt shops are all over the place and just like everything else, they stay open pretty late. I never eat ice cream at home, but for some reason in Spain, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Since our meals were normally hot and our drinks served at room temperature, it was hard to cool down. Ice cream seemed the only logical choice in such a situation. There were plenty of new, unfamiliar flavors to chose from in every shop and once again, we didn’t pay a lot for it either. That’s how you end a day of eating in Spain!

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4 Foods To Try In Andalusia, Spain

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  • rorybore
    November 15, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    Between the beach views and the food, if I ever visited Spain – I don’t think I would ever leave. I love the idea of tapas — I like small amounts of All The Food! :)
    Their eating times are very similar to how I ate when I was single and no kids. Kids eh, they get so grumpy if you don’t feed them all regular like. :)

  • EvaS
    November 10, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Chocolate con churros! You are killing me right now. I’m counting the days to be back home eating all that yummy food. Your photos are just stunning.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Thanks! :) I got so excited a couple days ago when we were wandering through some of the Christmas markets in London and I found a stand selling churros con chocolate! Definitely my lucky day. :)

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    November 7, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    I love Spanish food! I was determined to learn how to make Paella before I left and I did! Even bought me a paella pan! I put shrimp and chicken in mine. :) Yum! And I love churros! Cinnamon and sugar are my favorite. :)

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    November 6, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Spain was probably my favourite foodie place, I loved everything we had and how cheap it was! I could probably eat paella for every meal too.

  • Tammy Chrzan
    November 6, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    I would have gained at least a stone! But I would have enjoyed every single second of it!
    We have churros here in Texas, I didn’t know that people dipped them in chocolate. Now I want some! Right now!

  • Vera
    November 5, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    I’m Spanish and much of what you say it’s true! I do not ever eat before 2pm!! And paella.. and tapas.. mmh you made me hungry!
    With love,
    Vera

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 7, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      Hi Vera! Thanks so much for your comment! I appreciate your input and I’m glad I had most of this correct! My only knowledge of Spanish mealtimes comes from our own short experience there this summer, but I hope we’ll be back again and again! :) Where are you from in Spain?

  • Estherina's World
    November 5, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    What a droolworthy post. Definitely keeping this in mind the next I go to Barcelona.

  • Emmymom
    November 5, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    I would totally get the smaller meals too so I could try lots of things. I have been known to even order appetizer platters for my dinner, so yeah, totally would love it.

  • Melanie Fontaine
    November 5, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Oh my, the food looks divine! I’d love some Churros with chocolate sauce right now! ;)

  • Mandy Southgate
    November 5, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    Yum! I’m a big fan of Spanish food and this post is positively delicious. We didn’t have too much of a problem in Spain but we did struggle with meal times in Italy. After walking and exploring all day, every day, we were starving by 5pm and exhausted by 8pm. I’d like to take our next trip a little easier for sure!

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 7, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Because we were moving from place to place so often, our mealtimes were totally off on this trip anyway. I think that made it easier for us to eat so late. I know that feeling of exhaustion, though. That’s how we felt every night! Exhausted, but happy. :)

  • Jenn
    November 5, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Paella and Tapas are two of my favorite things :) I bought a Paella cookbook as soon as I got back from Spain!

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    November 5, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Mmmmmm Churros. And Tapas. And Gelato. Just Mmmmmm!

  • Hollands reverie
    November 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    oh it all looks so good. It would take some getting use to eating dinner that late, I usually have kids in bed by eight, I can’t imagine just starting dinner then every night!

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 7, 2014 at 4:30 PM

      Same here – my daughter is in bed by 9 every night and I’m usually right behind her around 10! This was fine for vacation, but it would be a big adjustment to do it all the time!

  • Camila @ AdventitiousViolet
    November 5, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Oh man churros were almost my favourite part of being in Spain! So delicious! And I had never eaten them with chocolate before!

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 7, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      How did you have them – just cinnamon and sugar?

  • Mrs. Match
    November 5, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Churros are amazing. It’s been so long since I’ve had one. I love tapas too. Remind me not to visit your blog when I’m hungry. ;-)

  • Katrin
    November 5, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    Late dinners are great and I always love it when I get bread with a meal. I love bread so much. Way too much I guess. :)

  • Margo @ The Overseas Escape
    November 5, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Oh wow. I’m so hungry now. I would just about anything for some of those churros and chocolate right now.

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons
    November 5, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Oh my goodness. I am so jealous of all this food. I ate so well when I was in Barcelona! And I love churros! x

  • Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    November 5, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Spain has just moved up on my travel list…yes, because of the food. Oh my goodnes!!!