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Spanish culture

Spanish paella

The Spanish love socialising and getting together. They are very family orientated and love having fiestas, entertaining and enjoying the Mediterranean way of life that they have become so accustomed to. Spanish are among the world's healthiest people and have an average life expectancy of 80 for women and 74 for men, the highest in the EU. The incidence of heart disease in Spain is among the lowest in the world, a fact attributed to the Spanish Mediterranean diet.

Eating and drinking is such a massive part of the Spanish life. The Spanish can literally whittle hours away over a glass of wine and tapas. There are many theories behind the origin of the word "Tapa" mainly that it means "lid", one commonly cited explanation is that of an item, be it bread or a flat card, etc., would often be placed on top of a drink to protect it from flies and at some point it became a habit to top this "cover" with a snack. "Jerez" is extremely popular in Spain. Quite often associated with Christmas, Sherry, is drunk all year round being drunk cold in the Summer with the main 3 varieties being, "Dulce" which is sweet, "Oloroso" which is heavy and "Manzanilla" which is dry. Of course I need not explain about the Spanish wines that are becoming more and more popular worldwide and appearing on many a Sommeliers wine list. The Spanish are very proud of their wines and so they should be, they are good value for money, taste amazing and have a wide and varied selection to cater for everyone's tastes.

Spanish food is fast becoming well known with names such as Dani Garcia, El Bulli, and Jordi Cruz being most sought after amongst the foodies of the world. The main staples of the Mediterranean diet consists of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and bread, all plentiful and very cheap. Fruit is in an abundance with Orange, Lemon, Lime and fig trees quite often seen lining the streets and town centres. The pig is widely utilised in Spain for cuisine from producing heavenly "Jamon Bellota" ham which comes from Pigs fed on a diet of acorns which is a delicacy, an expensive one at that, to the delicious Iberico pork so often cooked on an open grill with nothing more than garlic and fresh herbs. Fish caught locally is ever present on the menu with sea bass, cod, and sole being popular but not forgetting the seafood such as prawns, squid, mussels and clams that are so often served within the famous "paella" which is traditionally served at lunchtime on a Sunday.

A normal Spanish day starts with "desayuno" which is breakfast, normally taken early at 7am with the whole family present around the table. The house is then a hive of activity getting the kids off to school, dogs walked, getting ready for work. There is then a "segundo desayuno" which is taken around mid morning followed by "almuerzo" lunch at around 2pm during siesta when most offices and shops close between 2pm and 5pm. When kids get back from school a "mierienda" a snack is served, followed by "cenar" taken around 10pm but much later in the steamy Summer months.