We have friends who apparently can't eat without a slice or two from a barra de pan to help them. Fork in the right hand, lump of bread in the left. Wine in front... and fill it up won't you?
And if we are out of bread, would you like to nip down to the gasolinera to pick some up? Why bread, along with pornographic videos, wine, cigarettes again (that didn't last long), cigars, Butano and chocs are all freely available at the gas station is one of those strange things about life here. Anyway, we have a crisp warm barra de pan and we are all set for our meal.
In the morning, half a small panecillo is toasted in the local café and then spread with tomate - crushed or whizzed up - which the customer then covers with olive oil and salt. It's good with a coffee. For the mid-morning merienda, what is better than a bocadillo, an entire barra cut lengthways, and filled with cheese, ham or sausage?
But, with sublimity, comes its cousin crappo. Spain's aptly named pan de molde, bread-in-a-mold or, in American terms wonder-bread, is no Hovis. The best brand (apart from a couple of British-style ones occasionally available where foreigners are likely to shop) is Bimbo. It's not very good. Imitators of this brand are many - Panrico being the best known - and are also not up to much. You can make un sticky sandwich with them or toast them on the plancha with a thick gob of margarine but the taste of a piece of industrially-made pan is poor and dry. Some British restaurants serve a buttered slice if you ask them nicely, but I prefer to munch on real Spanish bread: 'Con pan y vino se anda el camino'.
Better stick to 'Spanish bread'.