If this is your first time to Spain, be prepared to eat late, very late.
Our normal starting eating hours are from 13:30 until 15:00. In my case, I wait for my wife to return from work, so we eat at 15;45. That is lunch, but for dinner you will not find any open restaurant before 21:00. At home we have dinner, with the kids, at 21;30.
Obviously there has to be a reason for this. The first one is simple to understand if you come to the south of Spain in the summer time. Your timings will be different as you have them back home. It is way too hot, and of course, you will also understand the SIESTA issue…
To tell you the truth, the real reason is that we don’t belong to the time zone where we are on. To understand this, we need to go to history. We need to go to the Spanish civil war (1936-1939) and the beguinning of WWII (1940) At this moment, Europe is ruled by 3 dictators, Hitler (Germany) , Mussolini (Itali), and Franco (Spain).
When Hitler started WWII he needed allies, and of course, he talked to the other two dictators. I guess they are the “3 amigos” 🙁 Mussolini said yes right away, but Franco, could not join WWII. We were just coming of our terrible Civil war, and the country was totally destroyed. So Franco said no to WWII, but to prove the world that he approved Hitlers ideas, he changed our time zone, from the British one to Central European one, which is the one used in Germany.
So when we say we start eating at 13:30, that is what the clock says, but if you look into the real time, which is the one given by the sun, we are starting at 12;30. So we don’t really eat that late.
But ofcourse there is solution to this late eating, If you need to eat in different hours, that is when TAPAS come handy. Tapas are served from 11:00 until 14:00 and at night from 18:00 until 22:00. I guess that is why they are sooooo popular here in Spain.
Here is a link to a BBC article about why we (Spaniards) eat so late