Eating in Spain

Jun 29th, 2012, 07:59 AM
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Eating in Spain

One of the wonders of travel is the cuisine, but since my last international trip I have been treated with radiation for cancer of the tonsil. It has impaired my ability to swallow; I have a great deal of difficulty with meat and bread and what I can eat, I do slowly with lots of water. I have finally gotten the courage to try a new adventure, but I am worried about finding enough to eat. Any thoughts or advice? I plan to fly into Madrid then head South through Andalucia.
Mybellarose is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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Eating in Spain is not rushed (as in the USA where you get the check when you are still chewing). You can take as much time as you want. The natives go to dinner never before 9.00 p.m., more often around 10 p.m. and spend several hours for a meal with many tiny courses.

If you want to eat earlier, tapas will serve your needs. Originally, tapas started as a slice of sausage or ham, but nowadays tapas have become quite sophisticated dishes, however in tiny portions. If you want a bigger portion, order a "racion".

In traditional bars, tapas are on display and you can select them by pointing at them. The more sophisticated restaurants have a menu, but it will take some time (and a special dictionary) to find out what it means.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 08:28 AM
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Thanks, Traveller. I'll never make it till 9! Since my treatment, my energy is not as good, but tapas would do fine as I can only eat small amounts at a time. What about finding enough food for a person who cannot eat meat/sea food/poulty or bread. Fresh fruit is also out. Anything with a lot of fiber just won't go down!
Mybellarose is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 08:32 AM
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mybellarose - hard luck! it sounds horrible, and i admire you for taking to the road again.

but i agree with traveller that you could hardly have chosen a better place to go to find food that will suit you. Spain is great for travellers in that although their actual meal times are a bit odd, because of the availability of tapas, you can normally get something to eat any time of the day or night. also, they really don't care if you sit in the tapas bar for ages, slowing chomping your way through their offerings.

if there is any meat it is likely to be very well cooked, but you will find eggs, fish, cheese, seafood in plentiful supply. vegetables too cooked in myriad ways.

good luck with your trip!
annhig is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 08:37 AM
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I think you may be challenged in Spain, actually, if you cannot eat meat, seafood or bread. I don't eat dinner super early, but like it around 8-8:30 pm and had no trouble in Spain finding places to eat. And I wasn't eating solely in tourist joints, either. Restaurants are open earlier, at least plenty of them for my needs.

In southern Spain, I remember getting gazpacho several times as I love that. I imagine you might from some time of North African cuisine in southern Spain or from Morocco, although I wasn't looking for it, just guessing. Then maybe you good eat cous-cous. For some odd reason, there seemed to be lots of Italian restaurants in both Madrid and Seville if that is better (and I would guess pasta could be better than bread). And I seem to remember lots of restaurants would have some kind of main dish with rice, either as a side or part of the main dish.

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Christina is online now  
Jun 29th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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Thanks to all. Chritina, you are right, I can eat pasta if it has lots of sauce [Maybe I should go to Italy ]
And soups are always good though I have to leave out the big chunks of meat. Vegetables and fruit are good if well cooked--the exact opposite of the al dente I preferred before I got sick. Rice is good if it has a lot of sauce, otherwise I aspirate the little individual grains. Funny to discover that brocolli has the same problem because of the little floretts.
So hearing/reading this, is there anyone that thinks it is a bad idea for me to go. (Note, I will be traveling alone since my husband left me after the cancer.)
Mybellarose is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 10:34 AM
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hmmm. well, the rice I was thinking of didn't have sauces on it, as I recall. But certainly Italian restaurants will have something with sauces. It may seem weird to go to Spain and eat in Italian restaurants, but if you have to, there are other things you can enjoy in Spain than the food. Spanish cuisine wasn't one of the highlights of my trip, I can tell you. Some of the fish I had was terrible as it was fried a lot with a really heavy exterior. I don't remember a lot of cooked vegetables, but I think there were some. And I think they overcooked their vegetables, actually, I sort of remember that, so that should suit you.

So Morroccan food should be good as they do have sauces. I think there are some tapas that have potatoes or something that maybe you could it. I don't eat tapas that much but the ones I remember had meat or seafood, or some kind of vegetable that wasn't soft. Maybe this will give you some ideas of what to expect

In short, I wouldn't say it is a bad idea for you to go if you feel okay and it may just be a little difficult finding food you can eat. I don't think you will go hungry, as I said, you should be able to find something to eat. And there are some soups, also, that don't have big chunks of meat in them. I think you'll do fine and dining out could probably be a challenge for you in lots of places, so why not go somewhere you want to go. There will be some scrambled eggs available in places, also, but maybe not for dinner. You might want to look for some vegetarian restaurants, although their stuff may have lots of fiber (like beans).
Christina is online now  
Jun 29th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Most, if not all, major cities in Spain have a department store, El Corte Inglés, which has a large grocery store in the basement. I sometimes buy foods to eat in the room--cheeses, puddings, yogurts, etc., because I'm not up to eating three meals a day in restaurants. There's also lots of ice cream available--and milk shakes at fast food places.

Most hotels also have a big breakfast buffet with cheese, sliced meats, yogurt, cereal, eggs, and the like. There's occasionally fruit available of the kind you can eat--canned peaches and fruit cocktail. You can eat enough there to keep you going through the morning and much of the afternoon.

For several years I traveled with my sister, who was a wonderful travel companion but is now unable to travel, so I travel solo. (I'm 76 years old.) I bought a little digital recorder into which I make comments about things that strike me or things I want to remember. It's not as good as having a really compatible travel companion, but it's better than talking to myself. I love listening to it when I return home.

Good for you that you are striking out on an adventure like this. Be sure to write a report when you return, letting us know how the trip went.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Spain is, among many other things, also a soup country. In the South (Andalucía) the tomato/vegetable soup gazpacho mentioned by Christina is a kind of a regional favourite. Delicious and no chunks of nothing in them (except the topping which might be some finely chopped cured ham, chopped eggs, peppers etc). Comes in different regional variants , but is commom all over Spain in the warmer months. Gazpacho is the most well known, but I like even better the richer and smoother variants Salmorejo (from Córdoba and very common in Sevilla) and Porra (from Antequera).



In the South, especially in Sevilla, try the delicious espinacas con garbanzos, spinach and chickpeas with a wonderful North African-inspired seasoning. A true Sevilla speciality:

The creamy Ensaladilla Rusa (Russian Salad) is very popular:

Some 21 different Spanish soups, most of them would be easy to swallow:

And the tapas scene will give you several choices. You can see what's on offer in the bar counter, and many things will be "saucy" and easier to swallow.
kimhe is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 11:35 AM
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In Madrid, you should try to avoid leaving the Plaza del Sol to eat if you can't have anything meat-like. The entirety of Plaza Mayor is devoted to meat restaurants, and you'll have difficulty eating there. In Sol, however, a range of vegetarian restaurants exist, so you should have no problem there. I recommend getting a falafel from Maoz- it'll be one of the freshest falafels you'll ever taste.

I can't help you with Alicante, however. Sorry!
jgman182 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 11:59 AM
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I see Kimhe has given you a great list.

you want to have broths and cream soups.

sopas cremosas sin tropezones ( without chunks of anything)

Yogurt is readily available.

Pudin ( actually a bread type flan .. not creamy pudding)

batidos ( milk shakes)

How about soft omelettes? Tortilla blanda.. no muy hecha.

I wish you well. Enjoy your trip.
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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I also normally prefer the vegetables al dente, but the smooth and very well cooked Menestra de Verduras (Vegetable stew) is just delicious:
kimhe is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:42 PM
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Mmmm. You all are making me hungry! People think sometimes I don't get hungry since I have difficulty swallowing. Wrong. All the food still smells as good, I just can't eat all of it.

These are some wonderful suggestions. And any other dishes you can think of or hints will be appreciated. S
Mybellarose is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:44 PM
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Do you think if I took a little Spanish translation of my difficulty, they might let me order a smaller portion? Here I just order the regular size and take the remainder to go. One American size dinner usually is good for three dinners for me.
Mybellarose is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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tapas do come in small portions, sometimes only a mouthful or so.

if you want more, you can ask for raciones.
annhig is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 12:56 PM
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no, I don't think you can make special requests to restaurants to change their meal size for you. I mean, you are wanting them to charge you less for doing that, right? So you are asking them to make up a special size and pricing list for you, which I would not do in any restaurant any where, actually. Because otherwise you could just not finish the dish. I understand that may seem like spoilage to you (and to me), but in a lot of places I ate in Spain, the portions were not humongous, anyway. In fact, I think they were fairly small as I tend to go to cheap places (and some of them don't give you as much). If you order some small side dish maybe and some soup, you will have a small meal. Or the tapas that will work would be great.
Christina is online now  
Jun 29th, 2012, 01:07 PM
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in Seville we stayed round the corner from what is allegedly the oldest bar in the city.

i thought it might help you to look at the sort of things that are on offer:

they come out from the kitchen on small plates and you can have as many or as few as you like. you can also walk round the corner to 5 or 6 other tapas bars where you can do the same thing. so you can make quite an interesting evening of it, going from one bar to another, trying the dishes that you think may suit you.

most are quite cheap - a few € per plate. the serrano ham tends to be more expensive but i anticipate that that's one of the things you can't manage. we generally eat like this when we are in Spain and it works fine, no-one expects you to eat a whole meal in these sorts of places.

available everywhere is a dessert called "flan" which is simply creme caramel. it is not expensive and should slip down pretty easily.
annhig is offline  
Jun 29th, 2012, 01:47 PM
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The ordinary tapas portions are generally small: a codfish ball or two (mashed potatoes and reconstituted cod and garlic). I know you don't eat fish or meat, but the size is typical. You would need four to six plates to make a meal. As above, if you want a larger portion, you would ask for a racion (ra-thee-own). Two of these would make a dinner.

Because they are served all day, you could have a plate or two at one, another at three, and so on rather than overtax your system. It will be hard, though, if you can't eat either meat or seafood. You will be dependent on cheese and egg dishes for protein. This is nice because you can eat tortillas, which are nothing like Western Hemisphere tortillas but rather like an omelet, though often sold at room temperature.
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 30th, 2012, 12:23 PM
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You can live on patatas bravas and pulpo gallego w/ vino tinto and blanco.
Bedar is offline  
Jun 30th, 2012, 02:27 PM
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The food in Italy doesn't come close to the excellent food in Spain! After visiting Italy last year, we can't wait to return to Spain. Our first trip was to Madrid, then Seville, Ronda, Grenada, and Cordoba. You've already received some terrific food recommendations, although I don't know if Paella is another option for you. I'm looking forward to enjoying Spanish tortillas myself this fall, which is the most commonly available food for breakfast - even in train stations cafes. As Ackislander said, it is very like an omelet with thinly sliced potatoes. And it sounds like you may be able to experience many of the tapas that are served, too. Migas (scrambled eggs, crumbled chorizo sausage) was our favorite meal in Ronda.
I don't think you'll have any problems as long as you don't try to eat American-style.
RodriguezCoppell is offline  

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