Spanish Hours

We keep Spanish hours here.  It took a good couple of years, but we finally managed to change our body clocks in favour of local meal times which we have now embraced with gusto!  What do I mean?  I shall explain.

Mexican inspired breakfast of cheese omelette, avocado mush, fried black beans and tomatoes.
If you ask a large group of people in the UK at what time do they eat lunch, you are going to get quite a variation of times... anything from 12 noon through to 2pm would be likely, but the exact time will depend upon a lot of things... which day of the week, whether they are working or not, if its a special day and also what and when they are likely to eat their evening meal.  Not so here in Spain.  If you ask a Spanish person from Madrid what time is lunch time he/she will say 2pm.  If you ask the same question in Andalucia... you get the same answer.  In fact all over Spain lunch time is 2pm.  Or from 2pm onwards.
Spanish strawberries turn up at the market earlier than in the UK - but truth be told, nothing beats English strawberries!
It can be a long time from breakfast to lunch and that took a bit of getting used to until we realised that the Spanish often take a break around 11am for a snack - a second breakfast if you will.  So our timetable follows roughly along similar lines:

Mushroom soup made from fresh.
Between 8am and 9am is breakfast.  If it's a not very busy day then we may plan a more substantial breakfast of pancakes or eggs and bacon, something that means we won't need to stop at 11am for a snack.

At 2pm we have lunch which is our main meal of the day.  We don't often go for the whole three courses but we do usually have a pudding.

Pulled pork with home made bread and applesauce makes for a really yum rustic lunch.
Around 6pm we sometimes have cake or biscuits and tea.  And then between 8pm and 9pm in the evening we have toast with cheese or tuna or something light.  Often I am not hungry and don't have anything at all.  In this respect we differ from the Spanish as they wouldn't eat their evening meal until 9pm or later.  Evening meals tend to be lighter than lunch but even so we found eating so late and digesting stomachs interfered with our sleep so we usually don't eat anything after 9pm.

home made Mandarins in brandy syrup makes a special desert with ice cream.
And here's the other thing.  We realised that often we ate not because we were actually hungry but because habits of a lifetime told us it was dinner time.  Of course we are retired and there is just the two of us and we can eat or not eat any time we want, we understand that, but actually doing it was very hard.  A lifetime of set mealtimes and expectations of what, as in quantity as well as type, of food would be served had somehow bound us in chains that were really difficult to break free of.

Avocado chili and lime with black beans and tomatoes.
But we managed it.  And the end result is that we have lost a little weight.  Not a lot and not that either of us needed to lose much weight but we feel like we are listening to our bodies a little more than we used to and responding without guilt.  For example, when I am full... even if there are still several mouthfuls left on my plate (and even if its delicious) I stop eating.  Yes I feel bad because I have wasted food but I can always give it to the dog or the cat lol!  Similarly I don't make meals if I don't feel hungry.  That must be a saving there surely.  Sometimes it seems like I haven't eaten very much at all on a particular day, but the next day I may eat quite a bit.  It all evens out and I think it must be healthier because I feel better for it.

fresh yellow plums and rosy apples eaten as is or made into a crumble for a perfect pud!


  1. We have not really changed our pattern much since moving here, up around 5am as opposed to 4, and in bed by 9.30. But our eating habits have changed and now it's toast around 7, lunch around 12.30 and last meal around 6. Any later and I can't sleep, but like you I don't always eat in the evening. Dave can eat any time, any amount! I make cakes but if I don't have any before 3 I do without, or risk indigestion. I love to cook but not necessarily to eat it. I do love a salad!

  2. We found we had to change or our meals would be interrupted by workmen and builders etc... at least we know that if we eat at 2pm then it seems like the whole world has stopped to eat and we will not be disturbed. I too have a man who can eat pretty much at any time and any amount too but he has also learned to listen to his body and along with a very active lifestyle he is keeping trim. Blimey I would be in bed at 9.30 if I got up at 5am... hubby used to do that but here we sleep in!

  3. Interesting schedules throughout the world. Here in Belize, the work day starts at 6:00AM when our building crew arrives. I am up well before they arrive, but don't eat breakfast until they have started their labors for the day. We eat lunch at noon, but locals eat "dinner" at noon. In fact, most business are closed from noon until 1:30 PM. We eat our dinner after 7:00PM, but most locals eat a light supper around 5:00PM. We very much enjoy a leisurely winding down of our day over our evening meal and often have our dessert around 8:00PM. Then I am to bed by 9:00, usually to read for up to an hour. It is just too hot during the middle of the day to eat a full dinner, so we have not adapted to the local custom of rural Central America of eating the main meal in the middle of the day with only a light snack in the evening.

    1. Gosh you are all such early risers by our standards... makes me feel quite lazy - although the Spanish afternoon (which includes working) goes on to about 8pm... when the builder says I'll come and talk to you this afternoon we often don't see him until 8 in the evening. It did confuse us for a long time and then of course it makes the day seem very very long. But we don't go to bed until Midnight or later so I guess all in all we even it out. Belize sounds like a very fun move! I would never have even imagined it!


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