Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Sobremesa’

This isn't just a word you need to learn in Spain, it's an entire concept.

Spanish Word of the Day: 'Sobremesa'
Photo: nito103/Depositphotos

Today we delve into a rather interesting cultural phenomenon in Spain: the sobremesa.

What does sobremesa mean?

Sobremesa literally means over the table, but in Spanish it's used to refer to the period after a meal when you chat with friends or family and enjoy each other's company. It can even refer to business associates, where you engage in post-lunch conversations or meetings. Let's look at an example:

  • Cada sábado tenemos una sobremesa con la familia.

        Every Saturday after lunch we sit around and chat as a family.

You'll often notice that in restaurants in Spain, the waiters will leave you to it after a meal and would never bring the bill after your meal without being asked.

It's common to have a lengthy sobremesa at the weekend but due to the Spanish working schedule usually including a long lunch break (sometimes up to two hours), it is also something we see at restaurants and in Spanish homes throughout the week too.

Photo: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos

Sobremesa also means tablecloth (which is also called 'mantel')

  • La sobremesa esta sucia.

       The tablecloth is dirty.

Check out our other word of the day posts

This word of the day has been contributed by LAE Madrid, the leading Spanish academy in Madrid. Accredited by the Insitituto Cervantes, it offers Spanish courses for all levels and also has Spanish classes for kids and familiesRead their blog for more Spanish!

READ ALSO: Ten things NEVER to do when dining in Spain


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.