We went out to breakfast, like most days when we’re in Spain. Well, almost.  Unlike most days, our friend, Irene, and her 4-yr old son, Leo were here.  So the priorities got rearranged just a little.  Instead of considering where we could get the best coffee and food, the first consideration was how good the kids’ playground was.

So we ended up at “Las Bolas,” Leo’s favorite place.  While our young leader yanked off his designer sneakers and leapt into the bouncy castle, we ordered the typical local breakfast.  Toasted baguette with grated tomato, olive oil, and cheese (try it, you’ll like it!), with coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice.  Complete breakfast = 2.75 Euros.

What? You don’t get breakfast that includes fresh orange juice for less than the cost of a grande latte?

Anyway, there were 2 things on the agenda.  Well, right after getting coffee.

  1. Give the kid something fun to do,  and
  2. Give us grown-ups (using the term loosely) a chance to talk, uninterrupted, for a bit more than 30 seconds.

We started sipping our coffee and about 10 minutes later, Leo came flying by.  His mom reached out an arm to capture him. “Here,” she said, “take a bite of your toast.”

Leo stopped dead in his tracks.  His eyes flew wide open.

“WHAT? You want me to eat Standing UP?” 

We burst out laughing and assured him it was OK, just this once. He chomped down on the bread and raced off into the mini basketball court.

Yep, it was awfully damn cute.  But I couldn’t help but think it kinda wasn’t so funny for me.

As a North American, I knew those words would be unlikely to ever come out of the mouth of one of our kids. At the ripe old age of 4, Leo already understands that eating is for sitting. For savoring. For sharing.

Nope, I’m not lecturing — especially because I’m as bad as any other busy North American.  I’m just sayin’.  For myself, I’m making it a priority to eat, “Sitting DOWN!”

P.S.  “At a TABLE. With Others.”


In honor of Leo’s little eating lesson, here’s a recipe that’s meant for sharing.  Well, they all are.  It may seem incredibly simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people have told me they’ve never tried it. Believe it or not, this is also a very popular dish on tapas bar menus.

Grilled Veggies, Spanish StyleGrilled Vegetables Spain
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One of the tastiest, healthiest, and most versatile Spanish dishes. Adjust ingredients and quantities to your liking.
Recipe type: Vegetables
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 Medium Yellow / Gold Potatoes
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion
  • 1 Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Medium Eggplant
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • ¼ lb Mushrooms - any type
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh herbs -- try basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, or get more adventurous with things like tarragon, fennel
  • Throw in a few peeled cloves of garlic, if you like
  • Add / substitute any vegetables you like. Brocolli, endive, corn, asparagus, tomatoes... go nuts!
  1. Wash all the veggies and slice relatively thin -- about ¼ inch. Sprinkle a generous amount of olive oil on the vegetables, or use a brush to cover them well. Add any herbs / spices that you like. Don't forget the salt and pepper. Make sure everything is lightly covered with oil (bonus tip -- oil the food, not the grill if you're grilling). Heat up a griddle, iron skillet, or if you have a grilling basket, use that.
  2. Place the veggies over the heat. Start the slowest cooking veggies first, and hold back the faster cooking things like mushrooms until the slower items are starting to cook.
  3. If you're cooking other things like meat, be sure and start the veggies first and give them a running start before you begin cooking other items.