Spanish food, in general...
I've been preparing for a trip to Spain for the last month, posting on chowhound, getting peoples opinions and scouring different gastronomic guides... and I'm starting to wonder if I should bother putting so much effort into it. I'm the type of traveller who would rather let things happen as they come rather than having a set plan. So, how is the food in Spain, in general. If I avoid obsviously touristy places, can I expect to have a great meal anywhere I go. Also, what are some signs to look for when deciding where to eat? What types of places should I look for.
Any advice would be great
The best thing you can do is eat at the right times. Eat a light breakfast. If you can't make it until lunch, you can get a sandwich at a bar after 11:00ish. Start lunch between 2-3ish, start dinner around 10. Don't have more than a snack at cafetería/bars. Try to eat what is regionally appropriate in smaller towns. Though you may break this rule when it come to seafood, because a lot of inland cities have very fresh seafood (Madrid, of course, but also others that you wouldn't expect).
Excellent advice, of course, and I will add that it seemed hard to eat poorly in Spain, in general food is prepared with care and fresh ingredients.
Especially in tapas bars, it is quite easy to gravitate to a place where the food others are eating looks great. Not much of a commitment, you can order as much as you want, stay if it's good or leave if not. While sit-down dinner in Spain is seldom before 10pm, you can eat tapas earlier.
Take siesta after your late lunch. you will wake up refreshed, shops and many museums are open until 8pm or later, and every day will seem like two days!
I couldn't agree more about eating at the right time.
My standard day in Spain usually begins about 10am with some chocolate and churros ( or, in fact, I prefer porros the larger, fatter version )
Then a wander around whichever town I am in to take in whatever is on offer by way of sights.
By midday, the bars begin to open and I think it is actually illegal not to have a few cana and tapa in lieu of lunch.
By 3pm/4pm, it is time to sleep for a few hours before rising again at about 8.30pm, heading out for a bit of a crawl before supper at 10pm-11pm.
Rounded off, naturally by a chopito of Pacharan to help me sleep
Butterfly is absolutely correct about the seafood. Even in the most landlocked area, the seafood can be very very good. The spanish do not mind paying for quality and while it is expensive, you will find amazing and amazingly fresh seafood throughout Spain.
I just got back from Zaragoza and I have to say, the fish and seafood there was fabulous.
The Navahas(sp?) wondefully meaty razor clams were a real favourite.
re: Simon Majumdar
When Simon and Butterfly talk about Spain, I listen. They know their stuff. My two cents is very obvious, stay away from places that have menus out front w/the 3 flags (french, english, german). 9.9 out of 10 times they are tourist traps or worse. As for paella, look for the best seafood restaurnat you can find, but....if they're Gallego or Cantabrian they most likey won't make htis Valenciano dish.
Due to the years of inland immigration, in Madrid, regional is a great way to eat.
Great advice to eat on a Spanish schedule. The other good reason to have lunch between 2 and 4 is that many things are closed then. It makes lots of sense to get yourself on a Spanish schedule as soon as possible. That way, the food that you happen upon when you're hungry will be more varied and better.