One thing that is important to remember is that in Spain lunch is not served until 1:00 pm at the earliest, and that people usually sit down to their midday meal between 2:00 and 3:00. Foreigners from other countries sometimes question this scheduling because their stomachs begin to grumble an hour or two before. They say it is time for Spain to join the rest of the world…but the Spanish don’t give a hoot and I applaud them on their decision to stick to their traditions. Why should they? Plus, foreigners from other countries have something they can fall back on; if only they knew it existed. It is called the aperitivo and it is quite possibly the single most important contribution Spain has ever made not just to Europe, or dining, or culture, but to mankind itself. Its attributes, its benefits are beyond description. It’s simply that great.
It is not easy to define the aperitivo because it doesn’t fit into the meal scheme of most other nations. If you are in any way familiar with Spain, perhaps the concept of tapa eating would best help you to understand what it is about. And if you are not, well it would be best for you to come to this country and learn about it personally. It basically consists of going to a bar, ordering a drink and getting served a tapa. If you are looking for something more substantial you can order a ración which is a plate of some dish which is to be shared by those at the table. Some foreigners from other countries are taken aback by the communal act, or are even horrified. I know because I have seen it. They think that forks were designed to belong to just one owner, as were the dishes they get food from. This is true of certain breeds of dogs like Chows, but I am not really sure why it should apply to silverware. But it most probably has to do with the interchange of germs and the undeniable fact that people are more fond of their own germs than of those of others, which is also how they feel about their flatulent releases.
Around one o’clock, the hour of the aperitivo kicks off. During the week this can be sidestepped completely as most hold off until lunch, but just knowing it is available contents the heart. Or you can grab a drink beer and snack and move onto lunch. Or you can grab lots of beers and a lot of snacks and bag lunch altogether. That’s the beauty and the mystery behind this meal.
There is so much to say here, I will have to tell you more next time.