The Spanish are not very big on breakfast. They usually eat a small sandwich with coffee or a piece of bread, keeping it light. Here in Andalusia however there’s an option that you can find in every bar and hotel that offers ‘desayuno’ or breakfast: the tostada.
The word tostada means toast but they don’t mean your average pre-cut Sainsbury’s or Tesco white bread. The bread is usually a nice, rich, fresh-from-the-bakery product that they drench in olive oil (as the Spanish do) to soften it up. Once I was even told to do some cuts in the bread sideways so that the oil can soak completely through it.
This is the very basic, the ‘original’ variety. From here on the possibilities and the varieties of the different toppings are endless. The second most basic type is the one with a few slices of tomato or a few spoonfuls of pre-made tomato puree. You can also ask for a sweet tostada with butter and honey or jam and there’s always an option with (sometimes a couple of different types) jamón. Our favourite weekend breakfast place is the Café del Sol close to the Cathedral which has a stunning variety of tostadas on offer.
In the better places they cut the jamón off a huge pig leg right in front of your eyes. The leg rests on a purpose-built stand and when one side has been shaven off, they just turn it over to make a start on the other one.
I usually go for the jamón option. You can ask for a whole (entera) or half (media) tostada. We find the latter more than enough. Paired with a good cup of café con leche and escorted down with freshly squeezed orange juice gives you a great start for your day.