The cliché of a Spanish mealtime – chatting over a long lunch or a dinner lasting well into the small hours – could soon be a thing of the past, as Spaniards’ eating habits are becoming increasingly affected by technology.
Spaniards now eat in a “hyperconnected” environment, eating more quickly and in a more solitary environment according to a new study called How Spaniards Eat by a team at the University of Zaragoza who questioned 1,500 Spaniards on their eating habits.
“In the study we observed that technology is more and more present in or meal times,” the report’s author, Elena Espeitx, told news agency Efe.
The study revealed that eight out of ten Spaniards are attached to their mobile phones while they eat; 60 percent of which keep the telephone on the table.
The television seems to be an almost permanent backdrop to many Spanish mealtimes – 50 percent of Spaniards eat lunch in front of the TV, while 90 percent admitted to eating dinner in front of the box.
The study also refuted the common image of Spaniards taking long lunches of up to two hours: 25 percent of Spaniards “spend 15 minutes or less eating during the week”. And the figure is even higher among younger Spaniards with 50 percent of 18-24 year-olds eating in under 15 minutes.
Work is the main reason Spaniards gave for their short mealtimes, confirmed Espeitx, with six out of ten people surveyed claiming that work commitments were the biggest reason they cut short mealtimes.
In big Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, 40 percent of Spaniards admitted to eating alone.
“We are losing the social component, at least on weekdays,” said Espeitx.
“What’s interesting is that 88 percent of people agree that they dedicate more time to their food if they are in company and 67 percent feel very happy when they share a table with people they love, in other words they highly value this social dimension,” she added.