I couldn’t go any longer without writing something about Spanish food culture. It is one of the great pleasures of being here.
So far, I have found very few places where you actually eat badly, whatever the price point. Sure, the standards of environment, service and in some cases health and safety vary substantially, even more so the price, but the basic quality of the food is generally good or excellent. I recently spent a few days in Barcelona and even there we were able to have a ‘menú del dia’ – 3 course meal with wine and/or coffee – for less than €15, and be very satisfied, both in quality and quantity (especially the latter – another characteristic of Spanish food culture).
The same cannot be said for the UK, though in the South East of England, at least, things are an awful lot better than they used to be (though prices are much higher), not least, I reckon, because many places are now run by foreigners… (Don’t get me wrong I think English food is much maligned and these days usually without good reason, and I enjoy a pie and a pint as much as the next Englishman.)
The consistent quality here is down to Spanish food culture and the famous Mediterranean diet, which, although as in many western cultures is afflicted by the modern disease of convenience and disconnection from production, is still alive and well. It is still possible to walk down the street and find butchers, greengrocers/small fruit and veg markets and fishmongers. And while many of the younger generation now buys gazpacho and mayonnaise ready made, ready meals have not really taken off and the new wave of healthy eating seems to be rolling in before the unhealthy tide fully came in.
Spanish food culture was high on my list of reasons for wanting to come (back) to live here. That and the wine – you can still get a superb bottle of local vino for under €4. It’s the ‘little’ things in life, which combined with the climate make daily life here so much less stressful and more enjoyable than living the rat race in the UK.