Ready For Your Spanish Breakfast?

Full English breakfast, Continental Breakfast or Spanish Breakfast?

Spain’s olive oil industry is pushing for the Desayuno Español to join all the other options in hotels and eateries not just nationally, but in wider Europe and beyond.

What exactly is a traditional Spanish breakfast? It goes without saying that olive oil features. Fruit, dairy products, bread, tomatoes and coffee are other key ingredients and they could also be accompanied by ham, sausages, honey, eggs and nuts.

Spain’s Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español (a non-profit official organization representing all members of the olive oil sector) wants the breakfast – based on the much-lauded Mediterranean Diet – to be a standard menu option. As well as promoting a balanced meal, they see it as a way to increase awareness and consumption of olive oil.

“Our goal is to see it incorporated in the cuisine offered by catering establishments around the world”, said the organization’s president, Pedro Barato. “The project is also a platform to promote our best quality olive oils internationally.”

The organization sees Spain as having a unique advantage in being able to offer a breakfast concept that is truly traditional, healthy and tasty.

In reality, many modern Spaniards skip breakfast or suffice with just a café con leche or, at the most, some toast or yogurt. But around mid-morning they usually take a breakfast break and then tuck into a small baguette drizzled with olive oil – often rubbed with tomato and even garlic – along with a filling of ham, cheese, tuna or chorizo, etc.

So the concept is tied to reality, but will it catch on abroad?

Some of Spain’s top chefs and nutritionists, as well as its Minister of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Rosa Aguilar, are helping promote the idea, and the Interprofessional has a working party dedicated to developing it further.

Here three leading Spanish chefs propose their vision of a nutritionally-balanced Spanish Breakfast. Which one would you be more likely to order?

Alberto Chicote
• 7g EVOO
• 200ml water
• 100g of orange
• 30g Jamón Ibérico (a traditional, high quality cured ham)
• 10g honey
• 40g toasted farmhouse bread
• 40g fresh cheese
• red tea

Adolfo Muñoz
• 9g EVOO
• 500ml water with fresh lemon or lime juice
• a pear
• a kiwi fruit
• low-fat yogurt
• a tomato
• 20g Jamón Serrano (Spain’s traditional cured ham)
• 30g wholemeal bread

Paco Roncero
• 5g EVOO
• 350ml water
• 20g ham
• 50g tomato
• 40g of white or wholemeal toast
• low-fat yogurt
• 200ml orange juice
• red tea

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This article was last updated January 4, 2015 - 8:17 AM (GMT-5)

  • Scstromp

    Why does it have to be a “spanish breakfast”? Good food and good health should be stressed, not a self serving origin of ham or attempted marketing of an idea that is self centered calling it “Spanish”. The Mediterranean Diet says it all, perhaps you might want to cooperate with your neighbors and stay away from ultra nationalistic marketing. Widen your focus. Bring the world into it. Not just spain. I disagree with these methods and have seen these choices of items you’ve tried to call your own in many good breakfast restaurants. Spain’s olive oil industry is plagued with problems and this will not come close to solving it.

  • Aididit

    I agree with you on the criticism about continuous efforts to “nationalise” products and their qualities. Greek olive oil is no better or worse than Spanish or Italian as it is not the flag but the efforts of the producer that make a good olive oil.

    But I think in this case you are being over sensitive, because this particular breakfast IS Spanish (I have not seem it anywhere else). Anyhow, what is the difference between “nationalising” it as Spanish compared to “nationalising” it as Mediterranean? How do you then bring the world into it?

    Take the Scotch out of the whiskey? The bolognesa out of spaghetti? Buffalo out of the wings? The Peking out of the duck?

    It’s easier for the “rest of the world” to relate to a specific concept if it has a recognizable name (it’s called branding and marketing) and if Spain is promoting the consumption of olive oil and making an effort to improve it’s image globally, well that’s just fine. Bear in mind that Spain accounts for close to 40%of the worlds EVOO production, so these efforts should not only benefit Spain, but all olive oil producers in general.

  • Risto Toivonen

    It´s a pity but I can´t afford olive oil price in Britain! Why is it so cheap only two hours flight in Spain or Italy?