Myths and legends

Tiresomely there are some myths about eating in Spain that never seem to go away. A social media post by an Austrian asked recently if Spanish food was safe to eat! Where have these people been? Certainly they have never visited Spain, where cleanliness is almost a cult.

It has to be admitted though that many decades ago there was a traveller's complaint known as 'Spanish tummy', roughly equivalent to Mexico's 'Montezuma's revenge', brought on without the shadow of a doubt by unwashed fruit, salads, and dicey water. Cooked food, obviously, was never a problem. These days you may stand more chance of getting food poisoning in Paris than in Barcelona.

Another recurring theme on social media that still persists is, 'Why are Spanish waiters so rude?' Well, there are undoubtedly some waiters who occasionally fly off the handle when faced with a stupid or arrogant customer, but they are no ruder than an irate policeman, and are certainly not restricted to Spain.

In such cases misunderstandings arise because here we tend to speak in louder tones than other Europeans to make ourselves heard above the clatter of plates, and, in many places, other customers. The Irish, though, appear to have no problem with this. Once in a Dublin restaurant with an Andaluz friend, as the octaves rose to bellowing proportions, the Spaniard remarked that it made him feel quite at home. And, of course, waiters speak loudly to guiris in the mistaken belief they will understand more readily. Don't mistake loud tones for rudeness.