Food, Glorious Fooooooooood (in Spain)

Sonya Friel
June 14, 2022

Before living in Spain, I was worried about the food because I had heard the stereotype that the diet was mostly seafood, which I really don’t like. After arriving here, however, I found out that it’s so much more—and I love it!

While it’s true that a large element of the diet here consists of fish and seafood, there are definitely other popular options. Lentils, beans, and vegetables are a huge aspect here, and (in my experience at least) there’s a whole lot of interesting ways to cook and combine them so that they have different flavours and textures. I wasn’t a huge fan of vegetables or salads before coming here either, but now I love them!! My favourite thing is that it’s common to combine fruit or something sweet, like honey, apple, or pomegranates, into the salads (along with balsamic vinegar and, of course, olive oil) with the vegetable salads. I also loveee the different soups, purees, and stews that we usually eat before the main course; they’re healthy and nutritious, but also delicious :)

And never fear, there is no shortage of carbs here either—there’s a great love for potatoes, rice, and pasta. Tapas, little snacks that are common to eat in the evening, are especially carby—but they aren’t eaten every day. Something that surprised me was that there’s also a great love for eggs here as well—it’s common to have boiled or fried eggs with your meal, to add protein to the diet I guess. I’ve had eggs with pasta, eggs with rice, and even eggs in soup—and let’s not forget the all-famous tortilla, or ‘Spanish omelette’, which is an omelette made with potatoes!

Of course, we can’t generalise the food for all of Spain—each region has its own preferences and specialties. Below is a list of my favourite traditional Spanish foods, which you should definitely try if you visit (and definitely will try if you study abroad here!).

Breakfast (usually small and early in the morning):

  1. Churros con chocolate
  2. Tostada con aceite y tomate (toast with olive oil and mashed tomatoes)
  3. Tostada con miel (toast with olive oil and honey - a surprising combination, but also tasty)

Lunch (the main meal of the day at around 2:30pm):

  1. Lentejas (Lentil stew)
  2. Paella

Tapas/Dinner (quite small and happens late, usually around 9pm):

  1. Tortilla
  2. Croquetas 
  3. Gazpacho
  4. Salmorejo (I think it’s more common in southern Spain)
  5. Patatas bravas (tapa)
  6. Huevos rotos (fried eggs) 


  1. Sangria (obviously)
  2. Tinto de verano - wine and lemonade. A sangria alternative, more common than sangria in Granada, and much cheaper too :)
  3. Cerveza Alhambra con limón - citrus beer which is the only beer I like to drink!

 And here’s a list of Granada-specific foods that surprised and delighted me!

  1. Dulces árabes. Granada has so much Arabic influence, having historically been under Islamic rule. This means that it is full of ‘teterías’ (tea shops) that sell traditional teas from Morrocco accompanied by Arabic ‘sweets’; usually sweet bite-sized pastries. 

They're amazing, and definitely one of the things I’ll miss the most.

  1. The teas in the teterías. They’re normally super sweet and milky, though you can order to taste.  My favourites are Pakistani tea with milk, and Syrian tea.
  2. Shawarma. Also having Arabic influence, these halal wraps taste amazing and Granada is full of restaurants that sell them.
  3. Piononos. These are also sweet, bite-sized pastries but they’re more moist. They’re named after Pope Pius IX's name in Spanish, "Pío Nono”. 
  4. Alhambra beer. Pretty much a staple here. I’m not a big fan of beer, but ordering ‘una cerveza Alhambra con limón’ (with lemon) makes it better :)

Things I don’t love about Spanish cuisine:

  • The lack of spices. Seriously, there isn’t a lot of spice. Some people I know brought hot sauce from home, just to spice it up a little!
  • It’s weird to have eggs or meat for breakfast! Here it’s normal to have something small and normally sweet to start the day, and then save your appetite for the main meal in the afternoon. I miss having Full Irish Fry-ups or bacon, egg, and sausage everything bagels on the weekends!!

Hopefully this will help prepare you for your study abroad experience in Spain!! Here are some pictures of the food made by my wonderful host mother, Merce, and of the tapas I’ve had here in Granada :)

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Sonya Friel

<p>Hi, I’m Sonya! I’m a junior at Bryn Mawr College, PA, and my majors are Neuroscience and Anthropology. I’m originally from Letterkenny, Ireland, but now live in Northern Ireland (when I’m not at school, of course). I love to travel, paint, swim, meet new people and try new things. This semester I’m studying abroad in Granada, Spain, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all!</p>

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Home University:
Bryn Mawr College
Letterkenny, Republic of Ireland
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