There were no ugly (ok—non good looking) people in Madrid. Every man and woman was attractive. Was it their impeccable dress sense, their perfectly coloured skin or their high cheek bones that made them look good or was it their fit figures or suave attitudes? Most likely it is a combination of the above. I believe the main reason for these wonderful looks is that the Spaniards also take great care about what they put in their bodies.
As a tourist in Madrid or Barcelona you will find amazing food. The best chefs in the world as are some of the best restaurants are found in Spain. The food in restaurants however differs from what the locals eat. Meat, meat and more meat is what you will find in most restaurants. Vegetables are rarely on the menu and most restaurants do not know how to react to vegetarians.
Spain is a diverse country where there is a Gaelic influence in the north and a muslim influence in the south. This diversity is seen in their food as well but one thing they have in common is healthy dietary habits. The Spanish culture believes in leisurely eating. Food is a pleasure that must be savored with family and friends. The main meal at around 2 or 3pm is followed by a siesta. In the evenings everyone goes out to the local public places and walk and talk to their neighbors and friends.
Meals consist of an abundance of vegetables, soups and salads unlike the standards in the restaurants. “Most of the food that we eat is fresh and mostly organic” stresses Maria Torres, an avid cook from Barcelona. This freshness comes out in the food. With little spice added all the meats and vegetables are – tasty. There is no other word to describe it. Whether it is Iberian ham, suckling pig, or sautéed asparagus the distinct taste is accentuated by the raw material itself. The animals are farm raised, grass fed and treated with respect as is the soil of the land. Spain has strict agricultural laws that ensure fresh produce. Madrid has the largest wholesale fish market second only to Tokyo. Fish, all varieties, are a large part of the diet.
The quantity as well as the quality also plays a role in the svelte figures of the Spaniards. Tapas is a wonderful way to try different foods in small quantities and the Spaniards eat this most evenings when they are out. Sitting with a drink and a few bites may take up the entire evening. The emphasis being on enjoying the company as well as savoring the food. Eating out does not mean stuffing yourself with appetizer, main course and desert – just a few bites of a 2-3 small tapas dishes.
At home dinner is light and the morning breakfast consists of yogurt, fruits and muesli. The healthy diet which is very similar to the currently praised Mediterranean diet using lots of fresh olive oil, fish and vegetables, and healthy habits such as walking, being active and being surrounded by family seems to do wonders to your looks as well as your longevity.