There’s no stopping “la marcha,” or the lust that urban Spaniards possess for socializing deep into the night. Devoted practitioners of this time-honored art, the denizens of Spain’s capital transform with each sunset into los gatos (the cats) in pursuit of nocturnal pleasures and possibilities.
Food and drink are essential ingredients of this sensual sweep through the witching hours; while some superstitious Spaniards may cap their chimneys to keep evil spirits out, Madrileños uncork the wine and other libations with abandon. Such partying takes stamina, so along with the requisite siesta they fortify by eating up to five times a day.
Starting with coffee and staples like churros dipped in chocolate for desayuno (breakfast), the unhurried culinary procession continues with a mid-morning snack (pincho), typically a small bite. Often pre- ceded by an aperitivo of beer or vermouth, then comes the leisurely mid-afternoon lunch (la comida), the day’s largest meal. Another snack time (la merienda), provides the segue into early evening, followed by much-celebrated tapas time, when the wine and spirits start flowing, and finally a late dinner (la cena) of shared plates ahead of the midnight hour.