When is a reasonable time to eat dinner?

I’ve got a work trip to Spain coming up and I’ve been looking for places to book for dinner since we’ll be a large group. However many of the restaurants don’t open until 9pm which is ridiculous. I’m usually in bed by that time. One place said they’d open early especially for us but even then it’ll only be 8pm which is still ridiculous.Ā I can’t accept that this is a cultural thing because what did they do before electricity was invented? I do not believe that they waited until 9pm and then ate dinner by candle-light. That’s absurd. What do families with young children do?

Some good news: my efforts to like the taste of whisky are starting to pay off. I had some on the weekend and it did not remind me of industrial cleaner which is definitely progress. All this hard work of constant tastings is returning dividends, at last.

I’ve replaced my chocolate addiction with a halva addiction which is surely an improvement. Halva is probably better for me, especially the ones I buy which do not have any processed sugar added. Halva is delicious. I never knew it existed until recently. My life is complete.

26 Replies to “When is a reasonable time to eat dinner?”

  1. I agree! 9 is ridiculous. We eat at 7, and that often seems too late.

    Scotch and halva go well together šŸ˜‚

    1. I’ve usually had dinner by 6pm šŸ™‚
      My kids start swooping on the kitchen like vultures if dinner is served after that.

  2. Really?! Restaurants open (not close) by 9pm in Spain. Good to know!

    Good to see you started appreciating fine things in life like alcohol. This is coming from…… a teetotaler. šŸ˜€

    Halva is yum. But the kind I know from India is stuffed with loads of sugar and food color. But I was sure there will be some Halva somewhere without bad stuff, and seems you discovered it šŸ™‚

  3. Especially since they never come back to your table to check on you and assume you want to be there for a 3 hour meal. My experience in Spain was quite different from what I’m used to in the United States.

  4. When in Spain…

    If that doesn’t help, a big mid-afternoon meal (another Spanish custom) might.

  5. Hah! Eating by nine in Spain – way lucky. When we first cycled in Spain we would, as was our way, skip lunch and then, because we didn’t understand tapas, have to wait ages for dinner. I well recall starting dinner at ten in Barcelona one evening. Same in Huelva. Absolutely nowhere to eat between five and nine. But I do think it is cultural. Same with Greece. If you take three hours out of the day at lunchtime to avoid the heat, you push back dinner. Makes all sort of sense. Only mad dogs and Scottish cyclists go out in the midday sun. You will have a great time regardless. šŸ™‚

    1. I’m Australian and we know all about the heat but we don’t sleep for three hours in the middle of the day and still eat dinner at a reasonable hour. I’m going to be a crotchety old woman šŸ™‚

    2. Tapas for dinner works. Also chocolate and churos. The kids will love it and so will you. FWIW the department store, El Corte Ingles has a cafeteria that may meet your needs.

  6. Haha, I found it strange at first but eventually learnt to embrace a culture of late dinners and long lunches in Spain. People look at you like you’re crazy if you try to walk into a restaurant before 9pm! Enjoy the delicious food and perhaps sample a little of the amazing red wine. I’m so envious!

    1. I’m not expecting much from the food because they put ham in everything and don’t understand that ham is not something vegetarians eat. I went to Barcelona on a previous work trip and nearly starved to death.

      1. Yes I thought you might struggle… it’s all cheese, oil and ham! Patatas Bravas perhaps?

  7. Don’t worry Rachel, I’ll allow you to have some snacks in the evening before we go out for supper; it’ll save on our food costs, ha!

    1. This is why I thought it would be a good idea for me to stay in the AirBnB with a full kitchen at my disposal šŸ™‚

  8. That’s definitely a cultural thing. I’m not Spanish but eating before 7PM would be weird for me. šŸ™‚ To answer your question, I’d say that a reasonable time to eat dinner would be 8PM for me. šŸ™‚

    Culture is impacted by other factors though, like climate, timezone, and working hours.

    Spaniards usually get out of work much later than in the UK. And it’s not because they take a nap after lunch (that’s more of a stereotype these days, something you read in tourist guides); they just work more hours than in the UK (and in most other European countries) on average.
    They also take longer lunch breaks (and coffee breaks in the morning), so they have to stay in the office until later in the evening. In the UK on the other hand, lunches are quick. This may have something to do with the food culture (northern europeans “eat to live”, latin cultures “live to eat”), the quality of the food, and the climate.

    Continental Europe and its common timezone are also not helping; in Spain the sun sets later in the evening than in Hungary, for example. Hungary should probably be an hour behind, while Spain should share the same timezone as the UK. That seems like a small detail, but if the sun is still up your life goes on, you’re not really thinking about dinner and going to bed just yet. It’s especially true for kids as you may know šŸ™‚

    1. They also take longer lunch breaks (and coffee breaks in the morning), so they have to stay in the office until later in the evening.

      I wonder how they manage childcare? Do the kids stay in kindergarten from 8am to 8pm? That sounds awful to me and terrible for the kids.

      Continental Europe and its common timezone are also not helping; in Spain the sun sets later in the evening than in Hungary, for example.

      The sunset changes through the year though. Here in summer it never really gets dark. I never see the dark because I’m always asleep before sunset and sunrise. In winter it’s mostly dark šŸ™‚

      1. I wonder how they manage childcare? Do the kids stay in kindergarten from 8am to 8pm?

        I have no idea. We’ll have to ask one of our Spanish colleagues šŸ™‚

      2. I don’t think any of them have kids. I asked one already. Maybe we can find out when we’re there.

  9. Never heard of halva, will check it out. I went to non-dutched sugar-free cocoa powder, which is fine added to various drinks and desserts (I avoid added sugar entirely, but the naturally occurring sugar in e.g. bananas is plenty to cut the slight alkaline taste). Allegedly the pure stuff does have health benefits.

  10. Ouch. It would play havoc with my digestion if I were to wait that long to eat. Like you I am an early eater, as I just can’t wait that long. I think that when you are moving around a lot under your own steam (bicycle or running), you have to eat through the day just to keep going. Whereas if you are more sedentary, maybe you can wait.

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