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Five reasons why dining in Spain is a fine experience

Author:   |  August 30th, 2017

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Affordable, friendly, always delicious and usually beautiful, dining out in Spain is a classic pastime.

Affordable, friendly, always delicious and usually beautiful, dining out in Spain is a classic pastime.

Spain has for years now led the world in haute cuisine. From the famous El Bulli restaurant to Basque inventiveness, if it’s a freshly minted Michelin star you’re after, Spain is the place to be.

This is all well and good, but for many, mealtimes are a source of more simple pleasures. Luckily, Spain also comes up trumps here, offering a smattering of some of the finest, simplest dining experiences you can imagine, with something for every taste and every budget.

Here are five reasons why eating out in Spain is such a memorable experience…

  1. Informal and affordable

Informal dining establishments in the UK have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, with the proliferation of the gastropub and a hipster-led revival in traditional British dishes altering the perception of the classic UK meal.

No such revolution was necessary in Spain, where classic dishes such as tapas and paella have always been produced with care and attention, kept affordable, and served widely across the country in unpretentious yet welcoming establishments. You don’t have to break the bank – nor don your Sunday best – to experience the best that Spain has to offer.

  1. Relaxed etiquette

That’s not to say, however, that there are no standards or expectations of quality in Spain, far from it. Dining out is part of the fabric of life in Spain, and as such it comes with a series of unwritten but important rules.

Number one is: never rush your food. As a Mediterranean country, Spain revels in its laid-back pace of life, which means that meals should be enjoyed slowly, preferably in large groups, and rarely – if ever – on the go. Be it a lazy lunch or a long evening dinner that stretches into the wee hours, resist the urge to glance at your watch and instead just enjoy the ‘smorgasbord’ of food presented before you.

  1. It’s all local

Spain’s embrace of foreign cuisines has been slow, admittedly, which means getting a decent curry, pulled pork burger or conveyor belt of sushi can be difficult, outside of the main city centres and cosmopolitan resorts.

However, you will learn not to miss such foodstuffs so much once you embrace everything that Spain has to offer. The regional variety to the cuisine is vast, and in pretty much every traditional bodega or restaurant the produce is likely to have been sourced locally, meaning not only is it affordable, but it is also much fresher and healthier.

  1. No need for condiments

You may find that when dining in Spain, your table is bereft of ketchup, sauces, vinegar and other condiments. No, the waiting staff haven’t forgotten them – rather, most Spanish dishes are created to be enjoyed as served, meaning the addition of all extra flavours is something of a no-no.

Of course, you can head to a burger joint if you need your ketchup fix, but one of the eternal joys of Spanish cuisine is that whichever of your tastebuds are screaming loudest, you will always be able to find a dish that leaves them satisfied.

  1. Tipping is reasonable

Ever dined in the USA and had a disgruntled waiter or waitress chase after you demanding why you ‘only’ tipped 12%? Tipping in many cultures is fraught with the potential to offend: too much, like in Germany or Japan, and your servers may feel patronised. Too little, and you can seriously upset them.

In Spain, the tendency is to simply round up. This not only eradicates the awkward tipping calculation, but generally leaves both parties – the server and the served – satisfied.

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