Spanish food is famous worldwide. If you ask anyone in any part of the world, they will probably name paella, chorizo, tortilla de patatas, patatas bravas, tapas... and they´d be right. But Spain has so much more in its sleeve that tourists and foreigners have no idea about.
It takes a few weeks and months to discover all the quirky ways of the everyday life in Spain. I´m sure I haven´t yet seen all of it. However, I´ve had a peak, and I´m going to tell you about a few of them.
One thing that surprised me was the second national drink, as I call it. The first has to be cafe con leche - coffee with milk. But the second most popular drink among Spanish people is cocoa.
Yes. Cocoa. Nestle, or Cola Cao, or any other brand of instant cocoa. You can buy it in pubs, cafes, shops carry large selections of instant cocoa powder, people bring them to work and make them like English people make coffee or tea. And not just young people or children - our boss drinks it all the time. If you order one out, you´ll get hot milk and a pocket of instant powder, and you can make it yourself. My seven year old brother would love it in Spain.
Shopping is also interesting. Shops like Mercadona and Lidl, which are the ones I visit the most, have a whole selection of Iberico ham. Big, smoked legs of lamb hang in rows, sometimes with the option to be sliced by weight (like in Mercadona), sometimes to be bought whole (like in Lidl). Cheese also has a big shelf space, and thanks to the presence of Dutch tourists, there´s a nice selection of brands like Old Amsterdam.
Not surprising, but still slightly odd for a person like me, who´s country of origin doesn´t have a sea - seafood is everpresent and fresh. You can buy it in markets, which is probably the best option (together with vegetables and fruits which cost a fraction of the price you get in even the cheapest supermarkets), but underneath is a picture of a freezer in Lidl where you can get seafood by weight.
Another thing you can get by weight, and which I´ve never seen before, is baked goods. Mercadona has a selection of rolls and breads that go by weight, and not just a certain kind, but the whole section is by weight. So it is with sweet and savory bakes like pizza or muffins, and even packed baked goods that are all uniform. The packed goods have the biggest variety, ranging from chocolate lava cakes to mini apple pies to donuts to... well, there´s about fifteen different kinds. And instead of pricing them individually, you can put them all together in a bag, put it on the scale, press the packed baked goods picture, and get a sticky ticket with price, just like with vegetables.
A few other things that deserve a mention are chocolate Mentos, both milk and white chocolate. I know the typical mint Mentos and their child-friendly tropical fruit version, but I´ve never seen these. They are even filled with chocolate. They´re not bad in my opinion, but if I were going for a chocolate treat, I would not get them. I might get the frozen churros for 80 cents I found in Mercadona, and make chocolate out of a powder. That is, of course, if you don´t prefer to order them in a kiosk where they cost about two euros.
Last thing on my list is alcohol. First of all, if you´re expecting sangria to be a Spanish drink, I was told you´d be wrong. Apparently sangria is the tourist drink they only make for foreigners, and no one who actually lives in Spain drinks it. If you want to drink, however, Spain has the cheapest alcohol I´ve seen since Slovakia, 1999.
There is surely much more I´m missing, and more I have yet to see, and I hope I´ll see enough to write another post about it. I suppose I´ll just have to keep on eating... the exact opposite of what my mother keeps telling me, but it´s 2019, the year when diet culture dies! Muhahahaha! (but seriously, it´s so hard to be on a diet here, any pointers? Are churros a vegetable?)