Costa Blanca Doyen: Eating out in Spain

Costa Blanca Doyen: Eating out in Spain

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Expatica blogger Rob Innis talks about the lesser known three Fs in Spain; food, fine cuisine and fast food.

Food is an important part of Spanish life. In fact it is one of their 3 Fs: food, family and friends.

Typical food in the region is, unsurprisingly, from the sea – fish (another f!) In this context this also embraces all sea food such as so pulpo (octopus), calamares (squid), gambas (prawns) and mejillones (mussels) that will frequently be seen on menus.

Rice grown in Valencia (strange to see paddy fields on the outskirts of this interesting city) is used to cook paella usually with a mixture of these seafoods although chicken or rabbit are other possible alternatives.

The main Spanish meal is at lunch. However, don’t expect Spanish restaurants to start serving much before 13.30 as the locals eat much later than in many parts of Europe.

Photo © Kent Wang
Spanish cuisine: Gambas al Ajillo - Gulf shrimp sauteed with roasted garlic and smoked paprika

A menu del dia offers a three-course lunch with drinks from around EUR 8, a very reasonable price. Originally intended for the working man, who was unable to return home for lunch, this is a great opportunity to enjoy a filling meal without breaking your budget. The famous Spanish tapas, small portions of all types of food, whilst being very enjoyable, can be more expensive than partaking of a menu del dia if you order several.

Fine cuisine
Those wanting to sample a finer style of cuisine should seek out specialist restaurants. Establishments where TV, fruit machines and locals sipping wine playing dominoes are not in evidence. The menu may have a similar look, but your choice will be wider, portions will be larger and the wines will be finer. But naturally this will all come at a greater cost. However you should still be pleased with your bill as it will be less than most other European countries. 

Fast food
The fast food industry has arrived. So the usual range of big name burgers and pizzas are available. Fish and chip shops can also be found in areas where the Brits congregate as well as Indian and Chinese restaurants.

Be adventurous
But why not explore some Spanish options – you may be pleasantly surprised. Do not let the legs of ham, strange-looking sausages or unrecognisable seafood (the range is far more extensive that I mentioned above) put you off. After all, Spanish are some of the healthiest people in Europe, due to their Mediterranean diet being fresher, less processed and with a higher fruit and vegetable content than typical British equivalent.

Photo © Kent Wang
Spanish cuisine: Clam stew - No Spanish meal can be complete without a seafood dish

For me eating is one of the pleasures of living on the Costa Blanca. But there is one food item that I would advise extreme caution with – callos (tripe). Despite my Spanish mother-in-law’s insistence that it is a delicacy, I am always happy to let her eat my portion of tripe! Each to their own.

Buen provecho!

Rob Innis / Expatica

Rob Innis is a freelance writer who lives in southern Spain. His works have been regularly published in various magazines and websites. The deputy chairman of the Torrevieja Writers Circle’s short story fiction was published in the Expat anthology ‘Courting the Bull’.  For more:

Photo credits: pelican; Kent Wang; bluewaikiki

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