The first time I came to Spain was in the spring of 2005, and at the risk of sounding cliché, I can say that I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 15-years-old and went to Malaga on a weeklong trip with my Spanish class. A week may not seem like much, but in those seven days, my Spanish improved dramatically, and I learned a ton about Spanish history and culture.There’s nothing like full immersion in another country to teach you all those little things that a textbook will never cover. During my first trip to Spain, one of those unforeseen learning curves came in the form of what should’ve been the simplest and most important meal of the day: breakfast.
You see, Spaniards like to keep their breakfasts light and not too complicated. So much so that most cafes and bars (yes, you go to bars to get breakfast) don’t even post a breakfast menu. You just have to know what to order, and that was where my confusion began. After a few days of bearing with my growling stomach distracting me from my morning grammar classes, I finally figured out what a Spanish breakfast consisted of. Now, with a year of living in Spain under my belt, I have become an expert.
Whether you’re coming here for a week or for forever, allow me to break down this whole Spanish breakfast thing and save you from the pain of a long morning on an empty stomach.
…Con Aceite y Tomate
…Con Aceite, Tomate y Jamón
You know what aceite means and you know what tomate means, now if we add jamón to vocabulary, you’ll have the ingredients for the mother of all Spanish breakfasts, the trifecta of the perfect morning pick me up. Jamón is the Spanish word for ham, but this isn’t your run of the mill deli meat kind of ham. This is Serrano ham. The pride and joy of Spain. The golden child of their cuisine. This kind of ham will always come fresh off the leg of a pig, which they keep right in the restaurant. I must admit that I freaked out a little bit the first time I saw the giant pig leg sitting on a restaurant countertop, but for Spaniards and now for me too, it’s as normal and natural as breathing.
So, una tostada con aceite, tomate y jamón is toast with olive oil, tomatoes (usually minced) and ham. If you’re not a fan of jamón Serrano, Spaniards will deem you as a blasphemous tourist and say you’re missing out on the best thing life has to offer, but they will allow you to order jamón york instead which is the typical deli meat ham you’re probably used to. If you don’t specify though, you will definitely get the jamón Serrano. The taste may be a little strong at first, but this is by far the most popular of all the tostadas. If you get some good quality ham, you’ll be in a carnivore’s heaven so I recommend giving it a try at least once.
Churros Con Chocolate