I still remember the first morning I spent in Madrid. I had arrived in the Spanish capital the day before after my six hour bus ride from my home base of Seville. While I tried to fit a lot into the afternoon and evening of my first day there (a visit to the Reina Sofia Museum and walking around the famed Plaza Mayor), the weather was unfortunately cold and dreary (for Spain that is) so I turned in on the early side. The hostal (in Spain a hostal is a cross between a hotel and a hostel) I stayed at was anything but charming which I loathe. While my private room featured its own shower, the W/C (toilet) was in the hallway, as in shared facilities. Strike one. For strike two, it was undoubtedly the hostal owner’s screaming toddler who liked to ride his tricycle up and down the hallways way into the early morning hours with no parental disciplining in sight. (I shouldn’t be entirely mad at the toddler since he was after all keeping with his country’s cultural customs as in people do not go to bed early…ever.) The following morning after a craptastic night’s sleep, I set out for some breakfast even though breakfast in Spain is really a misnomer.
While in most European countries, breakfast is on the small side, I don’t think anywhere has a smaller “breakfast” than in Spain (on a sarcastic note I attribute this to the fact that when you don’t get home from a night out in Spain until the sun set is up, breakfast seems like a waste of time since it’s lunch hour by the time one actually awakens). In Seville breakfast at my host family’s house consisted of a piece of fruit and a roll. My roommate and I got into the habit of hording these wafer style cookies that were left out in a tin since we were famished all the time. That “breakfast” would have been fine and dandy had I not had to awake at roughly 6:30 AM in order to make it for 8 AM classes at the center and then have to wait for lunch until 2:30. In short, Spanish meal times are killers.
So back to Madrid. The hostal was located in the city’s Puerta del Sol area (the Spanish equivalent of New York’s Times Square) and I quickly found a bar/cafe (these also seem to sometimes be one and the same in Spain) that was open. I was headed out to the palace of El Escorial and started my day early. I ordered the only thing being offered in the AM-churros and chocolate caliente (hot chocolate). I had had churros once before as a child when on vacation with my family in southern California; I loved them-pieces of fried dough that had been deliciously immersed in cinnamon sugar. However, let me say this, churros one finds in Spain are not like the churros that are sold in SOCAL (I had some at Disneyland when I visited last year and they were just like I had remembered). Churros in Spain are still fried pieces of dough, just not extremely sweet. The hot chocolate was also not like hot chocolate I was accustomed to-it was like chocolate tar…literally. It was so thick I felt slightly sick drinking the stuff as opposed to eating it with a spoon. Needless to say this breakfast didn’t leave me feeling rip roaring, ready to go but rather me wanting to return to my bed and pass out.
But the point of this post was to parlay it into a dish I made for dinner this week-Spanish French toast otherwise known as torrijas. The funny thing is while we in the United States eat French toast for breakfast/brunch meals (or dinner if you’re like me), torrijas in Spain is eaten as a sweet treat, but definitely not at breakfast. While I have made French toast before and blogged about it before, you can never have too many versions of it I say.