"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." ~Virginia Woolf
On a recent business trip to Spain, Catalonia to be exact, it became painfully obvious, that living in America where "eight out of ten people eat at a fast food restaurant at least monthly, with almost half of them saying they eat fast food at least weekly" (http://www.gallup.com/poll/163868/fast-food-major-part-diet.aspx), I had forgotten what eating really is, even though I belong to the mere four percent who say we don't eat at fast food restaurants.
In Catalonia, eating is taken to a whole different level:
Breakfast. Desayuno is divided into two meals (just that is genius in and of itself!): Easing into the day, we start with café con leche and something, anything, to dunk in it: typically a croissant; plain or filled with chocolate. Late morning, breakfast part two consists of a simple sandwich of freshly baked bread, like a small baguette, with cheese and/or ham and cheese. Nothing revolutionary yet, right?
But lunch. Hold on! This is not the time to get disinterested... So much more than what you are thinking... unless you are lucky enough to be able to relate. Lunch. Take the word in your mouth; roll it around a number of times; taste it. What do you taste?
This incredible meal is as important in Catalonia as it was for Catholics going to church in Italy every Sunday 100 years ago. Working though lunch, hunched over your desk is not an option. No, not even for you. It is a meal over which you connect with business partners and coworkers, family and friends. Starting around two o'clock, taking place over at least two hours, it entails a first course, a second course, dessert, inclusive of wine, water, ending with café. The most common is to order the menu of the day - a selection of three starters, three main courses and three desserts. Since this menu highlights the house specialties it is going to be freshest, and thus, will be my recommendation to you.
"La cena" e.g. dinner is another important meal (are we catching on yet to the fact that every meal is important?) but much more modest than lunch, and eaten late, usually after 9 pm. I am convinced it is slated so late in the day only so we can fit another meal into the day: la merienda (snack). Or perhaps it has to do with the heat. But does it really matter when it gives you an excuse to have bread so fresh out of the oven that it is still warm, with chocolate on it? Or perhaps jamon iberico and fresh cheese is more to your liking?
Whatever suits your fancy, enjoy! Eating is sharing so much more than food. It pleases more senses than taste and fills more than just your stomach. Eating is an art. Eating is joyful, Eating is relaxing, Eating is a ritual. Eating is cultural. Done right, it fills your soul!