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Well many of you have asked about what the food is like here in Spain. Well while we were in Murcia we tried to share with you what we were eating at the markets and in the restaurants. The food here in Bilbao is very different from what we experienced in Murcia. Here in Bilbao you’ll find mainly pintxos, which are small plates that are popular in northern Spain and especially so in the Basque country. The food here reflects the people, in that it is creative and diverse yet still maintains its roots. Here in Spain there are many occasions to eat, sometimes as much as five or six times a day. These meals are usually only small bites accompanied by a cafe or a glass of wine. Bilbao is near the Rioja wine region and the Spanish wine here is very good and very affordable. Many bars sell a glass of wine for 1 to 2 euros.
Imagine it is around noon and you are starting to feel hungry. It is not yet time for lunch because here in Spain that is done around 2pm. You decide to walk up the street and pop into your favorite bar/cafe for some pintxos and a cafe con leche. You have learned that here in Spain the majority of eating takes place in what we might consider a bar but it is basically a cafe that serves alcohol. You can sit at the bar, pull up a table or sit outside as is so popular here. As you walk in you observe people in lively conversation about the days affairs. Two business men are sharply dressed and glued to the futbol match between Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid with glasses of wine in hand. There is an old man sitting alone reading the local paper. You notice that most of the people inside are huddled around the pintxos, which are spread out on the top counter for all to see. You decide that you need to take a closer look.
As you step closer to the counter the cafe worker greets you with a friendly “Buenas!” and asks you what you would like to drink. You decide on a cafe with milk or a cafe con leche because it is cold and foggy outside and you need something to warm you up. In Bilbao people eat quickly and order even quicker. So you try to make your mind up about something to order before the cafe worker comes back with your drink. If you don’t get your order in now it may be a few minutes wait as he will be busy with other guests all along the bar. You notice on the floor that there are napkins all over the place beneath the bar. This seems to be a habit here that you have noticed of people throwing their napkins on the floor once they are done with them. As you expected the cafe worker returns with your drink in only a few moments. Restaurant service here is different than in the U.S. The workers will not ask you how your day is going, if you are feeling good and if you are enjoying your meal after every bite that you take. But they will be fast and efficient and give you what you ask for. It is not uncommon for someone to enter the bar, order a cafe or glass of wine and then before you realize it they’ve finished their drink, paid and are gone! So as your handed your cafe con leche you’re asked what you’d like to order to eat. Well for some help imagining what you might see we want to share the following pictures that were taken here in Bilbao of pintxos and other food related things! ¡Buen provecho!