Growing up in America, you were undoubtedly told time and time again that breakfast is ‘the most important meal of the day.’ This pearl of wisdom — so many times uttered by mothers and grandmothers — seems to seldom be heeded by most people, though. It’s puzzling how Hollywood movies typically portray the traditional American family as always having breakfast together on weekday mornings, the mother often having woken up hours before to prepare everything, including that gallon jug of freshly-squeezed orange juice. Reality, of course, differs slightly as many Americans rarely eat a proper breakfast, often opting to drive through Starbucks or McDonald’s on the way to work. In Spain, different from America, the vast majority of people take breakfast quite seriously and wouldn’t even dream of skipping it for any reason! Today we’re going to talk about having breakfast, Spanish style.

Tostada en Spanish breakfast


Spanish breakfast

One aspect about Spanish breakfast that can differ somewhat from the morning routine in the US is the schedule. In general terms, Spaniards wake up a bit later than many Americans, typically beginning work around 9 o’clock in the morning, although sometimes earlier. As opposed to many Americans, Spaniards often don’t eat breakfast immediately after waking up or perhaps not even before leaving the house. Due to lack of time, Americans often do the same, but would almost always grab something on the way to work. In Spain, however, many office workers, after having started work at 9, will — believe it or not — later leave the office to have breakfast somewhere nearby. Due to the late lunchtime in Spain — around 3pm — it is not all that strange to for Spaniards to have breakfast past 11am during the week.


A Complete Spanish Breakfast?

Remember how those commercials for sugary breakfast cereals would always say their product was “part of this complete breakfast”? Despite being obligated to do so by federal law, everyone knew that no one actually sat down and had their cereal along with all the other breakfast foods shown with it. At the end of the day, people in America have always eaten what they wanted, whether it was cereal, oversized muffins, or cold delivery pizza from the night before.

But what do Spaniards have for breakfast? Well, much of what they have are liquids, be them coffee, tea, or juice. And although it’s become somewhat of a lost art in the US, it is commonplace in Spain to make freshly-squeezed orange juice in the morning. Although some don’t have much more than just a coffee, it is not usual to have a big breakfast either.

For those who make it more than just a coffee, tostadas are common, which are pieces of toasted bread often topped with olive oil, tomato, jamón, cheese, or other food items. Sandwich bread is not generally used for tostadas, but rather, freshly baked bread, and toppings are generally not sweet, but salty. Those who have a sweet tooth, however, as opposed to a tostada, may prefer to have a pastry, such as a napolitana de chocolate, palmera de chocolate or croissant.


The best part of waking up

Although the sun comes up quite late in Madrid, you’ll probably find that the best part of waking up is having breakfast ‘Spanish style’. Even if you’re not a morning person, who can resist freshly-squeezed fruit juice, freshly-brewed coffee, freshly baked bread and pastries? If that’s how your day starts, imagine what’s to follow. Perhaps Grandma was right — maybe breakfast is the most important meal of the day!