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.