All bread-loving countries feel that their bread is the best in the world, and Spain is no different. Here’s a guide to Spanish bread. Get it while it’s hot!
Bread. Milk. Eggs. These are definitely the staples of an average diet in the United States. But here in Spain it’s bread.
“Si no hay pan, no hay comida” is a famous saying in Spain. It means, “Without bread it’s not a meal.” That’s how important bread is to the Spanish diet. There’s something so basic, so natural, so necessary about going to buy the daily bread. Bread, which goes without saying, is required everyday.
Panaderías are Spanish bread bakeries and can usually be found on every street corner. In the USA you can find places which sell bread but the same places sell cakes, pies, pastries, and other baked goods. Here, pastelerías (pastry shops) also usually sell bread as well but not always.
Panaderías really only sell breads. But how can they stay open selling bread so cheaply? A long, average bar of Spanish bread costs about 60 euro cents – although the price has recently gone up due to the increase in the price of grains. So how can they stay open? Volume. Just about everyone buys bread daily even though many actors, singers, and sports people have said they don’t eat bread because it’s generally fattening.
I know people who eat an entire bar of Spanish bread daily. When I first came to Spain I tried to adapt to this custom, going downstairs to the local bread shop to buy my bread and chit-chat with the owners. For me it was more of a social custom than the need for bread. Finally, about 9 months later I gave it up. I just couldn’t eat so much bread and always ended up throwing away half or two-thirds of the bread so it wasn’t worth it. I was wasting more than I was eating. Plus, it’s fattening – and I don’t need any help in this regard. Not that I’m fat (yet) but I’m certainly not doing myself any favors by eating bread!
What is enchanting is seeing people in the street with their bar of Spanish bread under their arm. Sometimes the bar in a brown paper bag or white plastic bag. Other times it’s wrapped in a single sheet of brown paper, wrapped only around the middle so the top and bottom points of bread are exposed. Almost without fail you see people picking off the ends and eating the bread while walking home, crumbs falling to the ground. To me, for me, this is such a quaint scene. Bread (and wine) is so European! Seeing someone walking the streets of Columbus, Ohio USA with a bar of bread under his arm would look so strange.
Although I rarely have it, my favorite breakfast is toasted Spanish bread with garlic and olive oil – and sometimes a tomato spread on top of all that. Mmmm… SO tasty and such a common breakfast meal in Spain. The same exists for “merienda” – which is the 6pm, midday snack with coffee. I mainly have this breakfast while traveling in Spain. And it’s so easy to find in almost all bars. It’s easy to order, eat, digest, and oh-so-Spanish! What a better way to start each Spanish day?