There are good things and bad things in every country I always say, both in the US and in Portugal. On our trip, I realized one good thing Portugal has is that it *still* (even though it's dwindling) places more value on meals. In the US it's more common to "grab a bite" as you keep working, to eat on the go or as you drive, to eat alone or in the romantic company of a computer or iPhone. Perhaps here in Portugal there is still more of a remnant of that Latin get-togetherness or open a bottle and make it a celebrational meal.
I liked taking two weeks off cooking and eating yummy things in the US. But it felt like HOME to come back, sit down to a salad and a homemade meal. I remember a Jaime Oliver TV show where he went to America to teach people to cook and I really liked what he said, which was something along the lines of, "The US and England are amazing countries, have done amazing things and have amazing cultures, but in some aspects have gone too fast and forgotten the basics: the basics of getting a few ingredients together and sitting down with friends for a meal."
So my "helpers" in the pictures aren't actually helpful, but the first thing I do every morning is cook, which will be our lunch and dinner. And I think that investment in time is important, even though it gets dishes dirty and cleaning up the kitchen is such a hassle, especially with impatient kids. But when us three sit down for lunch and then four at dinner with dad, and it's peaceful, and they are learning to eat by themselves, have manners and generally just enjoy mealtime as a family, it's priceless. There is a reason humans don't graze or get food dumped into a bowl at regular times like animals. It's a ritual. It's social. There's a reason Jesus was ALL ABOUT meals. He even TURNS INTO a meal. It's sacred.