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LIFE IN SPAIN

Eleven things to never do while dining in Spain

The Spanish are a pretty tolerant, care-free bunch most of the time. But when it comes to the dining table, there are a few taboos. Here's a light-hearted list of the gastronomic faux pas to avoid in Spain.

Eleven things to never do while dining in Spain
Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

Don’t turn your nose up at your plate

Callos. Offal that is super typical in Madrid and Asturias. Totally tasty and worth getting locally made. Just don’t ask what is in it. Photo:  Laura Hale

Never comment on how disgusting it appears no matter how unappetising you find it. Most likely the dish you have been served is a source of regional pride. So if you really can’t bring yourself to try Callos a la Madrileña (Madrid speciality of pig tripe and stomach lining), then insist you have already eaten.

READ MORE: These are the 17 absolute worst things about living in Spain

Don’t ask for butter

Photo: Amastoris/Depositphotos

The chances are they won’t have it or at best you will be given margarine instead. Instead, if you really want a moistener for your bread opt for olive oil. It’s local, plentiful and equally delicious.

Don’t eat too early


Chances are you’ll be in the only one in the restaurant.  Photo: Ulliana/Depositphotos

The biggest no-no when it comes to dining in Spain is getting the timing wrong. Attempting to eat your evening meal anytime before 9pm is considered just plain weird in Spain. Likewise don’t attempt to sit down for lunch before 2pm.

And don’t even think about rushing your meal

Photo: Kopitin/Depositphotos

Meals are social occasions to savour and enjoy. So no eating sandwiches at your desk, and prepare for some very strange looks if you unwrap a bocadillo while on the bus or the metro, or, heaven forbid, while you are actually strolling down the street.

Don’t ever compare the dish in front of you unfavourably to one from another country


Photo: Andreyuu/Depositphotos

Remember jamón serrano is undoubtedly superior to Italian prosciutto, for every French cheese variety, there is a better one in Spain and if you find you prefer Scottish black pudding to morcilla, keep it to yourself. Don’t even mention Italian olive oil or French wine!

READ ALSO: This is what happened when a vegan ordered a meat-free meal on the Costa del Sol

No doggy bags

Photo: igoor1/Depositphotos

A request for a doggy bag will be met with a quizzical look and likely an enquiry into what kind of dog you have. The practice hasn’t really caught on yet in Spain.  

Take it as it comes


Photo: scanrail/Depositphotos

Do not dare to modify served food in any way. You might just get away with adding salt but asking for pepper or, perish the thought, ketchup will mark you out as a philistine. If it is home-cooked food, it may even be taken as an insult. Just eat up and compliment the cooking. (And the best way to do that is to ask for a second helping).
 

Don’t sit down to eat tapas

Photo: AFP

The bitesize snacks are almost always eaten standing at the bar with a drink in hand. And when you have gobbled it up, whether it be a slice of tortilla or a couple of boiled prawns, it is still quite acceptable in traditional establishments to wipe your mouth with a paper serviette and then throw it on the floor.

Don’t ask the waiter to put ice in your wine

Photo: Big Dodzy/Unsplash

Some foreigners like to add an ice cube to their glass of white wine on a hot summer’s day, but you’re likely to get some weird looks from staff and other customers if you ask for hielo (ice), as vino blanco (white wine) is always served chilled in Spain but never with ice.

Don’t over-tip


Photo: arenaphotouk/Depositphotos

Spanish people do tip, but not always and never very much. It may be standard in Anglophone countries to add ten percent to your bill when served at a table but Spaniards as a whole are happy to leave a few coins, and only if they consider the service to be exemplary.
 
 
And last but not least…mind your Spanish
 
 
Photo: vincek/Depositphotos
 
Don’t ask for polla asada (roast penis) if you want pollo asado (roast chicken).
 
 
 

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FOOD & DRINK

Did Spain make Coca-Cola before the US?

Could Kola-Coca, the drink produced in a small Valencian village, have been the inspiration for the world-famous soft drink, Coca-Cola?

Did Spain make Coca-Cola before the US?

Coca-Cola, or coke as it is often referred to, has become one of the most popular drinks around the world since it was invented in 1886 in the United States. It has also become the drink most synonymous with American culture and the secret formula has been patented there too. 

Despite this, in the small town of Aielo de Malferit almost 140 years ago, three partners, Enrique Ortiz, Ricardo Sanz and Bautista Aparici, set up a distillery, which later went on to supply drinks to Queen María Cristina, who was married to King Alfonso XII, and the rest of the royal household. 

READ ALSO: How the Spanish sport Padel is winning over the world

Among the drinks that they created, the most popular by far was the ‘Jarabe Superior de Kola-Coca‘. It was made from kola nuts and coca leaves from Peru, and was dubbed by locals as ‘Heavenly Anise’.

The drink became so successful and popular that in 1885, one of the three founders, Bautista Aparici, travelled to the US to promote it and present the product to consumers in Philadelphia. 

He then returned to Spain, but a year later in 1886 in Atlanta, the pharmacist John Stith Pemberton invented the famous Coca-Cola. Sound familiar?

Whether this was a coincidence or not is open to interpretation, but what is even more interesting, other than the similar name, is that the drink contained basically the same ingredients as the Spanish Kola-Coca too. 

READ ALSO: Why a mouse called Pérez is Spain’s tooth fairy

When it was first created, the basic ingredients of Coca-Cola were just coca leaves, cola nuts and soda water, the same recipe that was made in Aielo in Valencia, except, they used cold water from the region, instead of soda water.

While Coca-Cola went from strength to strength and finally achieved world domination, the distillery in Valencia went on to produce other drinks. 

Then in the mid-1950s, Kola-Coca disappeared from sale when it is said, that representatives from the Coca-Cola company visited the Aielo factory to buy the patent for the ‘heavenly anise’ drink. 

Although there is no material evidence of this patent ever exchanging hands, it’s interesting to think the inspiration for this most American of drinks could have originated in a small village in Spain.

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