Sharing food to connect
Flying with a smile on my face from Madrid to Toronto after having spent a week in Spain, I can’t help but thinking what any Spaniard would tell you: there’s no place quite like this.
In any bar and restaurant you will find the three best ingredients: talk (very loud, actually), togetherness and tasty food. What you often don’t find, to the surprise of some tourists, is a place to sit. We enjoy eating as much as we like talking and moving from one place to the next to share raciones. I often tell the story of when I first started dating my Italian boyfriend. We would go out for dinner, and when they brought the menu he would tell me what HE was going to order. I was shocked. We hadn’t reached any consensus on what WE together would order. What we do in Spain is when the menu arrives, a heated discussion starts on what the table will order.
In Silicon Valley, some tech companies have started to articulate food programs whose aim is to gather employees from different departments and foster collaboration through food. The same food is served to all employees so that they have it as a conversation starter. This is idiosyncratic in Spain. We naturally connect by sharing food. It is not a secret that food is able to convey emotions and different types of energy, both because of the biological and also due to the perceived taste. So for example, if you are eating a comforting ramen you are probably don’t feel the same as when you eat a lemon sorbet. This is why, sharing a meal creates a feeling of connectedness among all the people seated at the same table.
To complicate is easy, to simplify is difficult. Bruno Munari
At Sala de Despiece, our group lived and celebrated togetherness through food. It was an experience dominated by bold, honest flavors orchestrated by the creator and very unconventional chef, Javier Bonet. I had already eaten there a couple of types but this time my international team was lucky enough to spend the evening with Mr. Bonet and live a magical night. He admits to be obsessed with the quality of the products, the creation of the optimal environment for his dishes to be served and the human value in the team.If you can bear to leave your phone and escape the digital world to enjoy good, straightforward and honest food, this is the place.
There is an appreciation for the moment that imprints the daily buzz in the city and also the food. We are lucky because the soil and sea give us powerful flavors that don’t need many artifacts but added to that, there is the care and simplicity with which they are served that leaves tourists mind-blown and locals just happy for living here.
Far from being a perfect country, it is one full of complexities and sometimes mix-matches with the fast paced and unapologetically competitive world. But then there’s that light, and that warmth behind every other person you stumble upon. The lady at the supermarket that wishes me a beautiful day and calls me cariño, the never ending hugs and kisses from my family but also from random business people who I don’t know the names of. An expat who started working in Spain told me the story of how her Spanish boss told her she had to start kissing in the business environment. It’s hard not to have extreme feelings for Spain. Either you fall in love with it or it drifts you and you dream of going back to the place you came from where you didn’t have to kiss strangers. They say anyone can move here, but not everyone will last. I haven’t been living there for some years now but each time I go back, I make sure to pack in my bag, that light and energy…for whenever it gets too grey and foggy…because it will at times.
Next stop: Toronto!