I have been undertaking my very own survey.

I wanted to discover what first time visitors to Spain made of Spanish food in the year 2013.

Hard to believe that anyone over twenty one has not yet holidayed in this vast and varied country, but I came across people twice that age who hadn't.

Over a period of a couple of months I have sent new visitors off in the direction of tapas bars, city centre restaurants and places to eat on or near a beach. All in the province of Granada.

What have they made of their experiences?

Elaine and three friends loved summer evenings in the city touring the tapas bars. The new ones and the longer established bars.

They first went to Bar Gamboa where they stood outside and enjoyed a plate of serrano ham. The bar bill of only 8 Euros pleased them as did the people watching. The city was just coming to life.

Then they moved on to a new bar a few doors away. Light, bright and with fresh fish at the front of the bar, welcomed the party effusively, but not in an annoying way.

The waiter talked through the fish on offer and how they could be cooked for the girls there and then. As it was they made do with a smashing tapa of pulpo (octopus).

After a couple of other bars the night ended at the wine bar, Casa de Vinos. They sat outside and the waiter Paco was very friendly and helpful with the menu.

After a couple of rounds of drinks, and the free tapas that came with the wine, they moved on to order raciones. Cheese from Zamora in northern Spain and a plate of peppered pate.

Both went down very well and the girls were very satisfied with the experience of their very first tapas tour.

Elaine said: "Getting used to coming out to eat at 9pm takes some doing. We would normally have eaten a meal by then and go out drinking afterwards. But this was good, we enjoyed the experience."
Jim and his three mates spent most of their holiday on the beach. That led to them experiencing the chiringuitos and restaurants located at Playa Granada in Motril, along the Costa Tropical.

The boys wanted good food and were prepared to pay for it. Jim's philosophy is simple: "If they treat me right, offer me good service and food then I will be certain to tip them well. If not, they will not see me again."

As it turned out, the party of four men in their fifties, on a golfing holiday, had both good and bad experiences of eating out on the coast.

Jim sums up the week: "We found one restaurant which was really good, the food smashing and the waiter was very efficient. So we went back the next day and it was as though we were at a completely different restaurant. The same food was dreadful and the same waiter was rude. And I'd tipped him 20 Euros the day before!"

While most of the meals they ate got the thumbs up, the inconsistency and the service experienced on Playa Granada did not go down well.

Jim says: "We had one meal where the waiter tried to tell me we'd ordered too much food. So I cancelled the pork dish. After we had our pudding, an hour after we've had our main courses, what turns up on our table? Only the pork dish! I sent it back and the waiter denied any knowledge of cancelling the meal. Worse.. it turned up on our bill.

"I used my command of the Spanish language to complain and say we would not be paying for that dish. The next bill was thrown at me. Suffice to say, we did not go back there.

"But in general we enjoyed the Spanish food we ate. But maybe next time we will head for the city or the hills. I suspect the welcome in the hillside will be more genuine."

Seven of the eight people had not been to Spain before, nor tasted Spanish food outside of the UK.

They all enjoyed the food, if not always the service. I was not surprised at the results of my small survey.

And both parties asked me the same question: "Why is everything served with bread"?

Now that is probably worthy of a post all of its own.