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Adapting to Spanish ways

Adapting to Spanish ways

Why is adapting to Spanish culinary traditions so difficult for foreigners?

Andrew J. Linn

Friday, 1 December 2023, 17:29


The letters to the editor pages of our local English-language paper are a happy hunting ground for those interested in the vagaries of the expat lifestyle.

It is there in black and white with minimal grey areas: either we love Spain and the Spanish, or we have a problem adjusting.

Another perception is that northern Europeans can learn a lot from Spanish fatalism, and anyway, as long as the sun shines, nothing can be too much of a hardship, can it?

It is of course in the area of gastronomy that adaptation is more problematic, the soft option being to spend our lives in restaurants designed to cater for the foreign community.

Why do the Spanish eat so late, whether it's lunch or dinner, rather than at the hours we northerners are accustomed to? And why use this smelly olive oil when they could be using butter or good old lard?

Would it be much of a sacrifice to get them accustomed to eating from hot plates rather than stone-cold ones? (Waiters must give an inner sigh as they watch foreign customers feeling the temperature of the plates before even tasting the food).

Happy the expat who is prepared to adjust and never give a thought to how things were in the old country.

The challenge of course is to find the least intolerable option, a mission generally complicated by the old truism that the service in restaurants that cater overwhelmingly for non-Spanish customers is much slower and less attentive than at regular restaurants where the locals eat.

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