Hi everyone!! Here is the long awaited post about Spanish food!! I wanted to collect some pictures of my meals before making a post, but I finally think it’s time! (Warning: do not read this post if you are hungry!!)
Here in Seville, everyone eats Mediterranean foods. It is both delicious and very healthy! My roommate Kayla, is taking a class on Spanish cultural studies and has been learning a lot about the food here! I am going to have her do a guest-post for you all soon on all the interesting things she learns in that class!!
To begin, I am going to break this post down two ways: food at my homestay and going out for food!
For those of you who don’t know, I am living with a host family in Seville with my American roommate Kayla. Our host “Mama” cooks us 3 meals a day! Like I have said before, their meal times and portions in Spain are much different than in the US.
Breakfast is normally served between 8:00-9:00am depending on our schedules and is very small! My normal breakfast consists of two pieces of toast and some fruit! Recently, our host Mama has been leaving out boxes of cereal and muffins for us in the morning as well!
I also wanted to share a picture of the device I use to toast my bread on each morning! Our host Mama doesn’t have a toaster, so we use this (looks like a mini-George Foreman grill…)
Lunch is the bigger meal of the day here. It is served between 2:00-3:00pm. They usually serve a traditional Spanish salad before the actual meal! (Spanish salad: lettuce, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, olive oil & vinegar.)
Surprisingly, the simple dressing of olive oil on the salad is very, very good (and probably a lot healthier than the salad dressings we use in the US)! The loaf of bread that can be seen on my salad plate is also served with both lunch and dinner. She brings the bread out in a basket, and everyone rips a chunk off with their hands to go with their meal. Sometimes we go through multiple loaves during one meal! The good thing is that the bread is very fresh here! Our host Mama gets new loaves every day! I hate to admit it, but I probably eat almost two loaves each day!! (But with all the walking I do here…carbs don’t count right?)
Our Host Mama also puts out blocks of cheese and “chorizo” (which is kind of like pepperoni) to go with each meal!
Dinner is served between 9:00-10:00pm each night. This seems very late for us Americans, but the Spanish also stay up later than us too. This meal is often smaller than lunch. I think our host Mama has been trying to help us adjust by slowly making dinner a little later each night. We started off eating at 9:00pm and now we don’t eat until almost 10:00pm!! I am going to share pictures of our various lunches/dinners that I have taken so far & describe what they are!
Chick pea & Potato soup
Potatoes smothered in (what tastes like) a marinara sauce.
Lentil Soup (Not one of my favorites)
Chicken & Rice (This was delicious, the rice was seasoned and covered in an olive oil)
Mashed vegetables in a sauce, with hard boiled eggs. (Honestly, this was one of the only meals I really didn’t like). I ate the eggs, but I didn’t really like the sauce all the vegetables were mashed with. Luckily, our host Mama was very sweet about it and heated me leftover chick-pea soup instead.
Spanish Omelet. (Yes, an omelet for dinner!) The Spanish think it’s weird that we eat eggs for breakfast in the US because they eat eggs for lunch/dinner here! A Spanish omelet is eggs and potatoes, usually with something in it! This one had pieces of ham in it (of course, they love ham here)!
Sometimes we watch Spanish Wheel of Fortune while we eat lunch!
And for desert…..fruit! Honestly, it’s a big let down for me (a chocolate lover) but the fruit here is so fresh, it’s great! I probably eat an average of 3-4 clementines a day here! They are the juiciest and sweetest clementines I have ever had! Lucky for us, we are also here for orange season (huge in Seville)!
Our host Mom keeps so many clementines in the house, it’s crazy!! (They make a really good snack though!)
Although portion sizes are known to be smaller in Spain than the US, it doesn’t feel like that at home! Our host Mom always says “Come mas, come mas” (which means, eat more, eat more!!). One afternoon, our host “brother” was visiting his Mom and had lunch with us. He told us that his mother was going to fatten us up while we were here!! She definitely loves cooking for us! I don’t mind the big rations, but I always feel bad when I’m too full to eat anything else (and she’s always offering us more bread, more cheese and more fruit!!)
For those of you back home, worried about what I am eating: trust me we are well fed here in Spain. I am trying a lot of new food (and for anyone who once knew me as a picky eater, the tides have changed!)
Out to Eat
Now it’s time to talk about the food I’ve had while out to eat! We only really ate at restaurants during Orientation in Madrid & Toledo, before we got to our homestay, but I will share the pictures I have taken of those meals now!
Kayla’s Spanish omelet in Toledo.
My spinach tortellini in Toledo.
“Cien Montaditos” or “100 Little Sandwiches” is a restaurant we first discovered in Madrid, after our tour guide recommended it to us, but later came to realize is all over Spain–including Seville! It is one of my favorite places I have been to eat so far! They have so much variety, including 100 different mini sandwiches all between 1-2 Euros! (This is also a great place to get 1 euro wine or beer!)
My first Montedito! (The first of many, I hope!!)
I also found the Holy Grail while in Madrid!!!!!!
It is a very famous Chocolateria where we got churros con chocolate!!
It seemed as though many Spanish were ordering these churros to share with a group…but naturally there was no sharing for me!! Although it is difficult to tell in this picture, the hot chocolate is not what we are used to in the US. It has more of a consistency of melted chocolate! I don’t think anyone actually drinks it here, but it is used for dipping the churros!! (SO GOOD!!)
Now you may be wondering about Tapas….
In case you don’t know what Tapas is…they are basically little appetizer dishes! Normally people in Spain who go out for Tapas order a couple different dishes and share with friends! We went to a Tapas bar called “El Tigre” in Madrid! Of course, we had no idea what we were doing at first! It was very crowded and many people were standing by these little counter tops all over the room! The waiter asked us what we wanted to drink and we all ordered a “pequeno cerveza” or small beer. Nearly a minute after our beers arrived, so did 5 plates of appetizers! We were all very confused and thought the food was given to the wrong people! The waiter told us that these were our Tapas, so we decided to start eating!! It was a really cool experience, and we later learned that in many Tapas bars, when you order a drink, the Tapas comes with it! For 5 beers & 5 large plates of appetizers it cost us 10 Euro!
I will probably have to do a separate post on all the various Tapas once I become more experienced in the art of food here, but they are really good! The most famous is “paella” which is rice and seafood. It’s not really my style but a lot of people love it here!
For our second round of Tapas, we forgot to say “pequeno” when ordering the beers…so we got “grande”!! Woops!!
I will try to do a post later on in the semester about the variety of Tapas and the best places in Seville once I have discovered them!!
And for desert…gelato!! I’ve had gelato here twice, and I am on the hunt to find the very best place in Seville! This was kit-kat gelato and was veryyyyy good!!
And a picture of my latest purchase, from earlier today!! I bought this at a cute pastry place near my house in Triana on the way home from running errands! I think some people call these pastries “Elephant Ears” back in the US, but it is basically a sweet and flaky pastry covered in chocolate!
I have already tried a bite (for the blog of course!!) so I can let you know how it tastes…and it’s delicious!! What else is new!
Lastly…to finish up my food post, something that goes with almost every meal here is wine! Everyone in Spain drinks wine, especially sangria! Although I was never big into drinking wine back home, it has grown on me a lot since being here. My favorite drink is a “tinto verano” which is sangria mixed with a lemon spritzer!! Very good!!
Hope my post hasn’t made you too hungry!! Until next time, xoxo!
Holy Toledo is right!! There is no better expression to describe this ancient city. Like Madrid, I have also been to Toledo once before. It is even better the second time around.
Toledo, Spain has some of the most breathtaking views I have ever experienced in my life. I love the history behind the city and the feeling you get when walking around it. Toledo takes you back in time. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating back to almost 4,000 years ago!!
Now since I enjoy history, I will share some information about the city with you throughout this post. Something that makes Toledo incredible is the years of peace between the Jews, Muslims and Christians. You may remember from a past history class that at one point, the Catholic monarchs of Spain expelled the Jews and Arabs while re-conquering their country. However, there was a time before this, in the city of Toledo, where Christians, Jews and Arabs lived in peace. In fact, there is a mosque, synagogue and cathedral…all within a 5 minute walk of each other. It is hard to find a place like that in Spain, let alone the world. Pretty interesting, right?
Now time for some pictures! The old part of the city has a wall around it. Toledo was once the capital of Spain. It was chosen for security and centrality to the country. The city sits high on a hill, with rivers protecting two sides of the city and a large wall on the other. Here is a picture (taken from the bus) of one of the entrances to the city from the side of the wall.
Then, our bus climbed a windy path to a place that overlooked the city. This has quite possibly one of the most stunning views EVER. In all honesty, my pictures don’t even come close to representing the beauty of this view, but here are the ones I snapped. (Again, some were taken in different modes/lighting of my camera to try to best represent the scene.)
We re-boarded the bus and headed to one of the bridges that enter the city. This bridge was built nearly 2,000 years ago as entrance to the city. (Mom, if you are reading this, we have an incredible picture of the two of us standing on this bridge 5 years ago!!!)
Here are some pictures of the old streets and sights as we walked around Toledo.
Our first stop was the Cathedral of San Juan de los Reyes (St. John of the Kings). This was built by Queen Isabella I as celebration after defeating Portugal in a battle and the birth of their son. It took nearly 200 years to build. This is the smaller cathedral (believe it or not) in Toledo.
On the outside there are 100’s of chain-shackles hanging on the wall. These shackles were from Christians who had been enslaved by the Arabs when they invaded Spain. When they won a huge battle in Granada (city in South of Spain) and freed many Christians, they brought their chains back here as a sort of war-trophy and remembrance.
Here are some pictures from inside the cathedral. There is also a walkway that goes around a garden in the middle. Very beautiful!!
Next, we headed up the street to a Synagogue. The name of the synagogue is Santa Maria la Blanca (St. Mary the white), which seems strange because it is a Jewish synagogue. Well, after the years of peace, when the Catholic monarchs sought to expel the Arabs and Jews, they turned the synagogue into a church by painting it all white and renaming it. It is now a synagogue again but still remains white with a Christian name.
Our last stop of the tour was to the Cathedral of Santa Maria (St. Mary). Words cannot describe how incredibly magnificent this cathedral is. My pictures do not do it justice in the slightest. The last time I visited the cathedral, we were not allowed to take any pictures. This time however, we were told we could take pictures without the flash. Although the pictures do look nice, I was disappointed when looking at them on my computer because they really do not capture the beauty of this place. This is the cathedral you can see from the scenic view of the city. This is the third largest gothic cathedral in the world (the first is in Seville!!)
Now for the inside!! (Pictures are kind of a little dark because we were not allowed to use flash)
Many Spanish cardinals are buried within this Cathedral. At the top of the second picture you can see the cardinals hat hanging over his grave.
This is a picture of the altar. There is a huge gate in front of it and a large crucifix hanging from the ceiling. I didn’t realize my camera was in a different mode when I took this picture so it is a little hard to see.
This is the artwork behind the altar. It tells the story of Jesus and was meant to teach those who could not read the bible.
These were the seats where the men of the congregation could sit.
This is what you find on the other side of the altar. (The altar was in a middle area of the cathedral.) See where the light is coming in from the circle at the top of this picture. This is when you zoom in…
The light shines in through here, and onto this…
Again, these pictures do not do these sculptures justice.
This is their sacristy…where Priests and altar servers put on their robes for Mass. The ceiling was painted by one of Michelangelo’s students, which is why it looks similar to the way the Sistine Chapel in Rome is painted.
This painting was by El Greco, and is of Jesus right before he is undressed and nailed to the cross. Very famous painting!
These are also in the sacristy, and they represent the four continents of: Europe, America, Asia and Africa.
Of course I had to take a picture of the one representing America! They all had different animals carrying the globe and ours were alligators!
Finally our touring was over (long, but exciting day) and we were able to have lunch in downtown Toledo! Then we headed to the hotel to settle in and relax before our meeting. Here are some pictures of the hotel! Our view was incredible. If you look closely, in the distance you can see the cathedral and the views of Old Toledo!!
Beautiful pool area, but still a little too cold to go swimming!!
I know this was a long post, but our day in Toledo was also long! It was filled with incredible sights, amazing cathedrals and a great history lesson! My legs were very tired from trying to walk on all the old cobblestone streets!! Hope you enjoyed this little trip back in time!!
Stay tuned for posts on my homestay, Seville and my school!! xoxo