Older daughter is working at a local ‘adventure parc’ this summer and has lots of fascinating stories to tell about how people behave on holiday. Most of them I can’t repeat because the people involved might recognise themselves and not be very flattered, but one thing we have learned is that there can never be European harmony because people from different countries can never eat lunch together.
Not because they don’t get on, but because everyone has a completely different view on what lunch is, and what time it should be enjoyed.
First come the French, who insist all their activity in the adventure parc has to stop between 12.00 and 2.00, with no question of tree climbing and abseiling straight after a meal.
The Dutch prefer a later lunch, and like to get their three hour adventure trail out of the way by 2.30-3.00 and then have a late lunch afterwards.
When Spanish people are asked at midday if they will be having their picnic before or after their visit they look suitably astounded at the very idea that someone would think 12.00 is a mealtime. For them lunch is at 4.00 pm and the evening meal is long after most of us are tucked up in bed for the night.
Which leaves the English, and the most amusing for everyone else – it seems that the English always say to the staff ‘We’ll just grab a quick lunch and be with you in 5 minutes”. The French of course (along with the rest of Europe) think this is very amusing that a whole nation believe lunch is something that should be rushed through as quickly as possible rather than enjoyed for an hour or two.
So with the English eating something quick in the car park at 11.55, the French settling down for a picnic from 12-2pm, the Dutch relaxing from 2 – 3pm and the Spanish eating a late lunch at 4.00pm, there is no time when people from two different European nations can actually be found eating together.
Unfortunately I am very English in this respect and you’ll much more likely find me rushing a sandwich so I can get on with something else – even after nine years in France I am no good at ‘long chatty lunches’ and quickly get fidgety.
Incidentally, this same tendency is also very apparent in local restaurants during the evening, which often seem to have two sittings – the first largely with English people who like to arrive around 7.00-7.30 pm and then a second sitting, for everyone else, starting around 9.00pm.