Spanish Lesson #2: Take Twice As Long To Eat Half As Much

One of my favorite Spanish pastimes is the two hour lunch. I know right there I’ve lost half of you American readers since most Americans eat lunch at their desks or on the go during the work week. But in Spain, lunch is a long, leisurely affair and it doesn’t have to detract from the work day.

Lunch starts late, say 2pm and sometimes even 3pm, so there’s plenty of work that can be accomplished in those morning and early afternoon hours. And that long, afternoon time out of the office spent over a glass or two of wine and assorted small dishes can be a great occasion to really connect with people–not to mention actually enjoy the food you are eating rather than rushing through it. In fact, when you eat slowly you not only have time to enjoy the food but as many a study will tell you, it takes your stomach  20 to 30 minutes to tell your brain that it is full so you can actually leave lunch feeling healthy and satisfied (even if lunch did include a plate of  incredible Iberian ham).

More importantly, the experience of really being in the moment–as opposed to being in a rush to get to the next appointment, email or task–can grow your relationships with family and friends in an incredibly meaningful way. I can tell you that I have had more valuable and productive discussions over long lunches with people here (whom I have know for less than 5 months) than with people I’ve known for 20 years or more over American style lunch.

So I have deepened my relationships on both a personal and professional level (and acquired a love for some of Barcelona’s finest cuisine in the process). The lesson here, I guess, is to start looking at lunch (and really this goes for any gathering over food and wine) in an entirely different way: “Take Twice As Long To Eat Half As Much.”

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