For my next blog post I’m taking a break from barrios to talk about culture and my favourite topic: FOOD!
So you’ve moved to Madrid and you’ve discovered that Spanish people operate on a completely different timetable regarding meals. Typically, Spanish people have a coffee in the morning around 8am and then go to work, around 11am there is a break where people have their “second breakfast” (like the hobbits) and then lunch is around 2pm and consists usually of a relaxed social gathering to have a menu del dia for around two hours. Finally, when they finish their extremely long day at work, they get home and have dinner usually around 9 or 10pm.
This can cause havoc for foreigners with a much earlier eating schedule.
But why do they follow such unusual eating times compared to the rest of Europe? The reason has a lot to do with politics.
Spain is actually geographically located in the same time zone as the United Kingdom and Portugal (Greenwich Mean Time) but the times are aligned with Central Eastern Time (CET) same as Belgrade located a mind-boggling 2,500 km away.
Spain has been living in the wrong time zone for the last 70 years.
Franco, the dictator, put the clocks forward one hour in 1940 to align Spanish time with Nazi Germany.
Though the time zone changed people continued with their daily life just one hour later than the rest of Europe. So lunch at 1pm became lunch at 2pm, dinner at 8pm became dinner at 9pm.
After the dictatorship, the clocks were never changed back. In fact, there is a coalition who are proposing that Spain return to its correct time zone and change the antiquated daily working schedule that no longer reflects the lifestyle of the average Spanish person.
The current Spanish schedule is still stuck in a forgotten era. The workday begins at 9am and finishes at around 7pm or 8pm due to the long two hour lunch breaks that were designated for siestas, this was ideal when people lived a stones throw away from their work and walked home to have lunch and a siesta but this is no longer the case.
Most people live outside the city centre due to the inflation in house prices and have to commute to work which makes napping at lunchtime impossible.
Most of my students have expressed a desire to return to the 9 to 5 work culture so that they could have more productive afternoons, spend more time with their children, go to the gym… instead of having their long work days which see them returning home at 8pm or later, exhausted and drained, leaving their children in the care of babysitters, nannies or aging relatives for the huge percentage of the day.
However, it looks like pigs will fly before a change in schedules will be implemented. Spain is a country of change as seen in the leaps and bounds in women’s rights, gay rights etc in the last 40 years, but they are sticklers for tradition and habits like this are hard to break.
The good news is that in the last two or three years brunch has come into fashion! So it’s become trendy to eat earlier. So don’t fear! Brunch being in fashion will save you from hunger!
Here are my favourites in Madrid:
Plaza de los Comendadoras 9, nearest metro San Bernardo
Australian hipster brunch place with great baked egg dishes, eggs benedict, burgers, smoothies and more.
15 – 20 euros per person
Pum Pum Cafe
Calle Tribulete 6, nearest metro Lavapies
A cute tiny cafe with great brunch and atmosphere, but tends to become incredibly full!
15 – 20 euros per person
Carmencita Bar / La Gringa
San Vicente Ferrer 51
One of the oldest brunch places in Madrid serving American style brunch, mimosas, eggs benedict and burgers.
15 – 18 euros
Calle Fernando del Catolico 50
A cute quiet cafe with American style brunch and pancakes, french toast and mimosas.
15.90 euros for American style brunch
Madrid is the hub of amazing food from all over the world, so Bon Appetit!
See you in my next post!