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The Eternally Under‑Appreciated But All Important Second Breakfast

The Eternally Under‑Appreciated But All Important Second Breakfast

Cava in Barcelona

Many agree that Spain’s eating times take some getting used to. Breakfast at the break of dawn, lunch at 2:30 p.m. (or later), dinner at 10 p.m. (if you’re lucky). With some exceptions of course, these eating habits can baffle even the most seasoned travelers. They can also baffle Spaniards who have been away for a while. Like myself.

I remember when I first left Spain for a long-term stay abroad, and being asked questions about our lunch and dinner times. It did not matter if the inquirer was Norwegian, Canadian, or Australian—they all had one question. How on earth do Spaniards survive between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.?

Years later, after a decade away, I returned to Spain for the longest stint at home since I had left. After a couple of weeks with my parents—during which my stomach would loudly growl every day at noon like clockwork—I began to ask myself the same question.

I found the answer in Barcelona, in the charming village-turned-neighborhood of Gràcia: the oft-forgotten and eternally underappreciated second breakfast. I was re-introduced to this wonderful concept at a classic taberna deep in the heart of Gràcia. The taverna, Can Tosca, has been welcoming customers for three generations, since it was founded by actress (and beloved local personality) Conchita Tosca.

It was 11 a.m. on a Tuesday when I was led into Can Tosca with the promise of a “nibble,” a quick stop so we could continue our stroll around Gràcia. The nibble turned out to be a butifarra sandwich and a glass of cava.

I had been expecting something more along the lines of a cookie and a coffee. A cured-meat sandwich in the morning? Alcohol before noon? But it was perfect. The butifarra was creamy, strong and delicious, the bread was crusty and fresh. The cava, a nice Catalonian touch to the second breakfast, was refreshing and energizing. And, what do you know, they both kept my stomach quiet until well after 2:30 p.m. Maybe Spaniards know what they’re doing after all.

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