Unadventurous eaters

However cosmopolitan they try to appear, it is a plain fact that Spanish people are not that keen on foreign food.

While most European countries boast a plethora of restaurants serving food from all over the world, the Spaniard is a remarkably conservative eater.

In the many decades I have spent in this country I can only remember one occasion when I was taken to a non-Spanish restaurant, in this case an excellent Indian one in Madrid.

Without having the numbers to hand, it may be reasonable to assume that there are more Indian and Chinese restaurants on the Costa del Sol than in the whole of the rest of the country. Italy also does well, and this may be due to similarities of the two cultures.

Americans visiting Spain have been known to happily eat pizza and pasta without being aware they are not in a Spanish restaurant.

Travelling abroad the Spaniard has to take what is on offer, although London, with its superb selection of Spanish restaurants, must offer the temptation to revert to national typecasting.

Incidentally, the most common observation is that English food is 'very sweet', and this remark mostly refers to the vegetables! Ah well, many people do add sugar to peas apparently.

Indian dishes are of course too hot, or 'picante', and you wonder why those spicy little green peppers, for example, are so popular.

No, left to their own devices Spaniards will happily munch away on what they normally munch away on when at home. And perhaps this is not too surprising when an Andaluz eating in Galicia will wonder out loud why there is no pescaíto or gazpacho.

Gastronomic curiosity is not a feature of the Spanish character.