Part 9 of the Morocco miniseries: Words from the dusty road
“What is up with these European sizes?”
At first, I was pissed off at the miniaturized size of everything in my plate and worryied about hunger right after I finished wolfing down the meal. “Why are they paying so much for so little food? How do they even survive?” Seriously, a piece of bread that’s smaller than the size of my palm with cheese and ham costs 5 Euros. I shook my head when I saw it for the first time, still in shock from the implication.
I never had a proper breakfast in Spain. The one that I salivated and dreamed of consist of a piece of bread, two sausages, two eggs, hash browns, butter jam and coffee. You know what I am talking about and you can get that in Canada for around $5 CDN (Exchange rate at this moment is $1.5 CDN = 1 Euro). Instead, I was greeted with the same disappointing “Tostadas, jamon, kaiser y Cafe” (Toast, Ham, Cheese and Coffee) for 5 Euro. I can make this at home at the cost of $0.75. Unlike in Morocco, the prices are usually non negotiable, or rather, shall we say that nobody is trying to negotiate the price. Peer pressure and the take it or leave it attitude puts the haggler in me to its death bed. I want to see what Ania would do here and worship her if she does pull it off.
Why am I dedicating this post on food? Because Spain’s timing is off… from a Canadian’s perspective. Our first encounter of this off timed eating schedule was when we were walking around looking for dinner around 7PM, a reasonable time back home, but not so much in Spain. The restaurant owners would tell us in Spanish that the kitchen is closed and we’d be scratching our head trying to figure out what they just blurted out in super fast Spanish style. This continued on until the owner got impatient and blurted out the word “Kitchen closed”. Which gave us even more question marks.
Other mysteries includes going into places during normal business hours and getting the boot with the word “siesta” or “tapas” to accompany us out. Those of you who’ve been to Spain is probably laughing now and I agree with you that it is funny. Just imagine the puzzled and clueless look on our face around 7PM trying to point at the picture of a plate of hot meal and motion the action of eating.
So, later, with trial and error, we found out what the deal is. There are two siestas in the working day, each lasting about 2 hours. Tapas (small plate) and beer time is from 5 to 7PM while the kitchen opens at 8PM (Meaning the chefs get there at 8 to open the kitchen). We didn’t bother figuring out the official lunch time since nobody offered any kind of real meal before 8PM. The most you can find is “Toastadas y …” or some tapas place.
This European diet is part of the reason why I lost so much weight. That and the small portion of food they serve. As time goes by though, I started to see things their way. Even though the portions are smaller, the scent and tastes are stronger. You can see this trend in everything. Even the coffee they make is stronger (In a super tiny cup that you can fit two thumbs in). Upon returning home, I verified this fact by ordering some of the same food and drinking coffee.Â I am now a sucker of “Toastadas y Porsciutto y Cafe”