Visitors to Spain (or much of Southern Europe for that reason, despite Spain getting the reputation) are oft astounded at how late the populace has lunch. Two o’clock is the standard early time and it can range all the way up to four or even five in very rare cases. It’s a shock to those from more northern climates given that they’ll eat dinner at six–an obviously absurd premise given that that is the snack time of merienda.
So, while in Priorat last weekend, researching wine, it was not unreasonable that #1 Fan and I stepped in to a small restaurant in La Vilella Baixa for lunch at about 2:15. The restaurant was far from full, but those there were dining well on quite nice looking servings of authentic Catalan dishes. With both the server and this purple-haired women who we assumed to be the owner seeing us, we sat down and began to wait.
We weren’t waiting for our meals, or even our drinks, but the menu actually which took about 45 minutes to arrive once we’d been re-acknowledged by the girl server who told us the owner of the purple hair would have to take our order. Eventually, this event did come to be. Our order was taken and we began waiting anew.
Fifteen minutes in to Wait II, our hunger was getting the better of us as we had had breakfast at 7:30 that morning. Our conversation took on a survivalist tone and despite the wanton display of a vicious ass crack by a Spanish speaking gentleman with an iPhone at the next table, the hunger grew. From her vast experience of eating amongst different cultures and knowing how to bend one’s needs with the environment at hand, #1 has a keen eye for culinary survival and she spotted an untouched basket of bread at a nearby table left by a French couple. We pounced and devoured.
Thankfully the helpless bread had been at hand as it was another half hour before our food arrived. As is usually the case, the plates where quite good, but given that they were arros a la casola and macarones which are both generally made earlier and then reheated, we had no idea as to why they took so long. Of course, at that point, given that it was nearly four, the restaurant had largely cleared out and the second plates arrived relatively quickly.
It’s hard to disparage a place like this when the food is good and the price for the full meal is 10€. It’s just really amazing how long these things can take sometimes and oddly, we never received any bread of our own.