When do we dine?

One of the difficult cultural adjustments I faced when moving to Portugal was the late dining time. I was used to eating right after work, and for most Americans that means we’re dining by 6:30 at the latest. But Portuguese restaurants frequently don’t open until 7 in the evening, and if you dine at that hour, you’ll have the place to yourself.

After I adapted to the Portuguese schedule, we vacationed in Spain and I was startled to find that compared to the Spanish, the Portuguese are early birds. Later we went to England, where it became obvious that language isn’t the only thing Brits and Americans have in common. Wherever you go in Europe, you have to adapt to different dining times.

Which is why I had such a laugh when my wife, who was at an archaeology conference in England last weekend, texted me about the post-conference dining arrangements with colleagues:

We just got to an agreement on the hour to dine. It was kind of hard since it mixes an American, 2 Portuguese, 3 Spanish and 3 French.

The American said 6:30. The French said 7:00. We said 8:00 and the Spanish said 9:00.

We agreed on 7:30.

A miniature United Nations in a pub, that was.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in culture, Europe, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to When do we dine?

  1. Lilaine says:

    An African (Ethiopian, probably) archeologist could have put all that diner-time difference into perspective by saying, not without some kind of (dry) humor: tomorrow…

  2. M. says:

    Polish dinning habits are way different from all these above πŸ™‚
    We don’t have lunch, so dinnertime is rougly from noon to 16.00-17.00 tops. 19.30 is perfect time for supper πŸ˜€

  3. Inge says:

    I have a more flexible approach to dining time.. when i am hungry i eat.. that could be at 17 or 18 or 19 or 21.53 or any time really..

  4. Paulo says:

    M., I just shared this post with the comment: ” If they had a Polish in the group and still wanted to achieve a compromise average, dinner would have been at 2pm.”
    I may have exaggerated.
    Polish wife. πŸ™‚

  5. Archivistwolf says:

    Times will change between what area of the US you’re from too….

  6. Nancy says:

    Sounds like a pub is the better neutral territory.

  7. Luis Rebelo says:

    In re Polish dinner/supper, I’d like to offer Portuguese ancient names/times (at least a hundred years ago).
    “AlmoΓ§o” (lunch) would correspond to a late-ish breakfast (around 9AM), with “desjejum” (literally break fast) around sunrise, “Janta/Jantar” (dinner) around noon and “Ceia” (supper) around 6PM (or later).

  8. Zuruspa says:

    Needless to say, whenever you settle with a Spaniard for 19:30, they will indeed arrive at 21:00…

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