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Adios a la siesta? Spain's long lunches under threat

Alvaro Barrientos / AP

An executive sits with a coffee outside a restaurant in the old city of Pamplona, northern Spain, on Oct. 27. Amid the economic crisis, Spanish firms are considering scrapping something sacred: the two-hour lunch break.

Alvaro Barrientos / AP

Workers eat lunch washed down with red wine at a bar in the old city of Pamplona on Oct. 27.

Alvaro Barrientos / AP

Beatriz, an economist, eats lunch in her office in Pamplona on Oct. 27.

I know we all have to adjust to these austere times, but making Spaniards grab lunch at their desks is bordering on the barbaric. Is nothing sacred any more?

The AP reports from MADRID:

 Day after day, Spanish chef Jesus Lopez serves up treats like a steaming stew of red beans with spicy chorizo sausage and bacon chunks. And that's just the first course. Next comes hake au gratin on a bed of spinach, and cream-stuffed puff pastry for dessert.

Lopez owns a small, upscale place catering to business people who eat the old-fashioned Spanish way and often come to negotiate or celebrate deals. They punctuate work with a break of two hours or more for a hearty meal — the rest of the work day be damned. But many now wonder if struggling Spain can continue to afford a tradition that — for some — borders on sacred.

"It is quintessentially Spanish," said Lopez, a friendly, thoughtful man of 48. "The problem is that there are fewer things to celebrate these days." Continue reading.

Paul White / AP

Workers queue for lunch at the Iberdrola company headquarters in Madrid on Nov. 2.