I believe the jetlag is working in our favor. Siesta time here is from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm. When I say siesta time, I mean that not a creature is moving, not even the pigeons, during this time of the afternoon. The only movement on the streets of Salamanca during yesterday's siesta was caused by a group of international students arriving in town from CA, PA, MA, KY, UT, HI (and likely some other places, but I've not had a chance to meet them all yet). Upon our arrival at Aladaba http://www.aldabaresidencia.com/, our residence for the next 2 weeks, we immediately became "locals" by taking a good nap!
It was a good thing we did, because I was unprepared for the length of the evening's events. Pardon my lack of experience, and skip this blog post if you are one of the people who have tried to explain to me the length and lateness of mealtime here in Spain (and other countries which I've yet to visit). I will admit that I actually doubted your description. No longer! Thankfully, according to my stomach, it was late afternoon/early evening when our meal started at 9pm. (Disclaimer: Let me say the entire evening was wonderful, and I believe I'll adjust quite well to the mealtimes while we are here; it was just a very new experience!)
We met some of the others in the Mester group in the Plaza Mayor (photo above) at 8:45 pm. Mester Academy was hosting a welcome dinner for about 40 of us at a restaurant in the plaza, Don Mauro's. http://www.restaurantedonmauro.es/
9:00 pm Every place setting had a bread plate.The breads here are quite good and this seems to be
a country of bread eaters. So far, I've seen the bread served with olive oil.
9:20 pm: The waiters brought plates of ham. The plates were for 4 of us to share and had 5 kinds of meats, including jamon cerrano (in the center) which is the closest thing to some of Myers' Meats products that I've ever had. It is muy rico.
10:00 pm: The salad was probably my favorite part of the meal, although I liked everything. The salad had mixed greens (almost as good as Riverhaven lettuces :), chunks of fresh mozerella, candied walnuts, sweet pickled peppers, tomatoes, dried cranberries (or some kind of similar dried fruit), and was topped with slices of tuna. The dressing was some sort of vinaigrette.
10:45 Ham croquettes. They are about the size of hushpuppies, but very soft, cheese filled and the ham must be pureed into the cheese. Outstanding, but 2 of them were more than enough because they were so rich.
11:05 pm: So, after feeling like we'd had a complete meal already (hams, tuna/salad,
croquettes, bread), we had the main course. Uff-da! I will say the objects in photo are much larger than they appear! The lamb and homemade fries were so good, that I almost forgot I was already full! Not to worry--I cleaned my plate!
11:40 pm: What?!?! There's dessert?? Yes. Again, this photo makes it look petite. It wasn't. Tiramisu, gelato, cookie, dark chocolate sticks and some sort of fruit sauce garnish. Thankfully, we didn't have to chew it--the phrase "melt in your mouth" developed to describe this dessert. At this point Ben made some reference to being like cows--having 3 stomachs. :)
11:50pm: Oh yes, we'd like some coffee :). The one on the left is Ben's--café solo; mine, on the right, café con leche, is the typical way of serving coffee here. It is excellent...yes, and keeps us awake until 3:00 am. Apparently the other residents of the city drink coffee at midnight too. And it keeps them awake until 3:00 am too. They must have jetlag :). Actually, it is pretty quiet here compared to China (no fireworks on a nightly basis beneath our window).
Plaza Mayor at 12:15 am. Many more people on the street at this time compared to siesta time.