PORTIONS In Usa verses Portions in Spain

I have noticed that on Hungry Onion, that most of the members pile on their plates 3 or 4 items and they are huge … The meat or fish has veggies all over it and the potatoes are moist and wet from a sauce. (no offense).

We do not do this … We have 3 courses. The starter is 1 dish, 1 item … Then the main course.
If the main is accompanied by a veggie, it is a tiny amount of that veggie or there is a separate plate for it. The final or 3rd course is a dessert or cheese with fruit(s). In actuality, we serve vegetables (mushrooms or artichokes or Roman Green Beans as a first plate or starter) … We normally never put vegetables on the main course plate, unless it is a modern Michelin Restaurant and the plates are quite large and square.

The amount of pasta on a dish is 100 to 120 grams at most. The same goes for risotto or paella.

I believe this is cultural …

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Can you link to some images that illustrate this?


Yep, America, land of supersizing. My South African wife had to really get used to this, and to tell herself that she didn’t need to clean her plate every time.


Ah, but we are learning.


It is! In the US—when cooking at home, In particular—generally I serve everything at the same time. Usually I don’t put the food on the table in multiple courses unless we have guests. Again, this is simply a matter of what I’m used to doing at home.

Also pasta is typically a bigger portion than I would eat in Italy. My husband has a hearty appetite and appreciates my cooking, so that’s good. My own portion is smaller. :grinning:

For home cooking the pasta course could be our entire meal, with or without a salad of some kind.

I enjoy dining in Spain or Italy when I have traveled. The portion sizes agree with me because I can taste more dishes.


No offense taken. I think a lot of American’s were raised to put everything on their dinner plate at once. Gravy on potatoes and roll or salad on the side. Makes sense to me but I also understand your part of the world and others in this country’s way of dining.

Everyone does everything differently. If we were all the same if would be a boring world.:slightly_smiling_face:


Now that I take offense to. We’re not all Supersizer’s ok.

I didn’t mean to delete my post. Can someone help me get it back?

@Miss_belle, hit the flag symbol to ask aModerator to return your comment.

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Well,I put in for it . Thanks.


@Barca, I’m not offended by your post, but I am almost offended by your verbiage when using the term, pile onto your plates. I don’t think anyone here is piling food onto their plates. They’re carefully serving their food, after having made it, ready to snap a pic and eat! Probably hungry… the sauces on potatoes are delicious, and called gravy, or pan sauce.

I do agree that portions are generally larger in the US - I call this portion distortion. And no, we’re not all fat either. A good many people eat lightly at breakfast and lunch, choosing to consume the majority of calories at dinner. Most of us don’t have the long lunches, and snacking traditions of other cultures.

We are all different here in the US, and live in a big, diverse country! And some of us are even bilingual. (This isn’t a jab at you, it’s just come up on the threads before.)

Keep in mind too, most of us aren’t dining out due to Covid, so yes, you’re seeing home cooking, which is different, mostly in style and quantity from better restaurants.

My post isn’t intended to offend, rather just enlighten. Please keep asking questions, and sharing your multi cultural traditions with us. I mean this most sincerely! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and stay well! :hibiscus:



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Well, to be honest, I do take offense. Offense is probably too strong. Hopefully being honest makes up at least a little for being defensive.

Any time someone makes generalizations about “we” and “they”, I get defensive that way, even if there’s some truth to it.

Then I think about it like I do a journal. In this case I’m wondering how much any of us can know about “us” from the folks who post pictures. I’m guessing most of us don’t post pictures.

Of course, I DO post pictures, but not of “piled” food. I mostly share what I’m proud of, and what I’ve cooked. I used to post restaurant food in local threads, and I don’t think its usually piled, but I don’t even remember that anymore.

I never thought about the US doing more piles, potato, and wet things, but I am aware of opinions about portion size.

Anyway, assuming cultural differences are rooted in history, I wonder why these differences regarding separating types of foods, and smaller quantities on a plate happened.

We talk a lot about “food insecurity” here. Do people talk about that elsewhere? Seems like the link between poverty, food insecurity , and obesity may be cultural too.

Or maybe “we” just don’t like washing so many plates!:grin:

My husband and I comment on how we are different in this way. I usually take all that I think I might want in one go, on my smaller plate, and don’t feel wretched if I don’t clean my plate. He might go back 3 or four times, for smaller portions on a big plate, nothing touching, and finishing every bit. He seems to feel it leaves more for others (there’s usually just two of us), and there’s less waste.

Like @Lambchop, I encourage you to to share! I will too (although I may Photoshop my pictures). I still appreciate your posts, your insights , and your pictures !


That was a good one.



I hate standing over the stove . Every thing in place
Into the pan or oven in stages . Cooking time . Glasses of wine .Done . All together on the plate . Chuck wagon style. Yes I’m guilty


I find this post not so much offensive as tiresome (no offence). What is the purpose of it? To incite the chest-beating guilt and self-consciousness of Americans as they lament the generalisation as total truth, or to start a fight?

I can’t speak for all Americans (having only lived there for a portion of my life in a handful of states, and even then being of a particular class, ethnic group, national origin) nor for Spain, where my experience is limited to summers in Catalunya and visits with friends who stay in Madrid. Within this limited experience, I could say that lunchtimes are very large (and at some of the uni cafs quite saucy), dinners less so, zapatillas so enormous one should only share— but if I snapped a photo, who would know what to think? I like the availability of fish, but find the surfeit of cheese and meat (especially pork) to be overbearing and challenging to avoid. And yet, I know that’s only a part of it.

I’m also not sure what value there is in thinking about courses or mixed plates. One does not always get progression, and a fixed plate of a single course is hardly shameful. There’s also family style which comes out of many cultural backgrounds.

And the sauce thing? I don’t get it. Surely that depends on the type of dish prepared? I mean, I’m not a fan of the cheesy sauces Britons seem to like to slather on veg, but it that for the ‘wetness’ or the heavy fat? And don’t slam saucy foods, which have been part of all style of cooking from my background and travels. (I’m suddenly thinking of some lovely stews with purées, or chicken adobo, etc.)

Now, if you want to talk portion sizes in general, sure. Portions are larger in the U.S. (in restaurants, I have no idea what people do at home). But portion sizes are growing throughout Europe (and in some places have also been insanely large and meat based).

The TLDR of my blether? Given the broad generalisation here (and the lack of like to like dishes being addressed), there’s little to take from this kind of post at first glance. So what would you like for people to take from it? (I’m in neither Spain nor the U.S. so maybe I shouldn’t have even poked my nose in.)


I know this thread is mainly a comparison between the portions in Spain and US. I live in France, the culture here is 3 courses as most European countries share the same culture. In a formal way when one eats in a restaurant, one separates the courses. At home, sometimes, I pile the starter, the main course in the same dish to avoid more things to wash. Does it mean all French are doing the same as me? Or are they separating dishes? I don’t know. It is also about social class and not just culture.

I think in WFD, we are sharing an intimate part of life, there is personal preference and sure, there are all types of influences. Younger members probably have larger plates. There is a fine line of easy generalisation. I think to draw conclusion one needs to define more meaningful criteria for comparison.


Photoshop LOL! I sometimes do it too especially restaurant photos with dim lights, but at home, I rarely make much effort to do food styling nor to care about light or camera. My philosophy is eat the food when it’s warm. I don’t want to spend time dealing with the lights and taking the right angle and look for a reflector when the food becomes cold. I don’t live for photos. Actually h gifted me a box to photograph food. I don’t even use it, too big to be kept in the kitchen.

Not exactly this, but you get the idea of a photo box.


Agreed, other than that the original post demonstrates a complete ignorance of American cooking and culture on the part of the original poster.

Furthermore, the obviously disdainful tone of the original post IS offensive. There is nothing inherently superior about serving food in three courses as opposed to several dishes on one plate. This is both cultural and cuisine-driven. Is an Indian thali-style meal deserving of criticism because there are multiple dishes on one plate? What about a Korean meal, with multiple banchan options all on the table at one time?

As for portion sizes, they are highly individual and presumably the adults posting on HO are perfectly capable of serving themselves the amount of food they would like to eat at a given meal, especially when cooking at home.

Restaurant portions in some areas of the country do tend to be larger than you might find in Europe, but that is not true everywhere in our vast and varied land. At the Michelin level, where multi-course meals are the norm, portions are sized appropriately to the number of courses being served. There is also a “doggie bag” culture in the USA that does not (IME) exist in Europe. Many restaurants purposely serve large portions, creating a sense of “good value for the money” and EXPECTING their patrons to take some of it home. Again, there is nothing inherently superior or inferior about this approach. It is simply part of American culture.

Given that HO is hosted in the US and a majority of the posters are American, perhaps the OP should take the opportunity afforded here to learn a bit more about American cooking and culture rather than criticizing it at every turn.


No offense taken by me. What I have gleaned is that cultural understanding improves when it flows both ways.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold