Lingering over a noontime meal with friends unfortunately is not part of the American culture. In fact, slowing down the waiter to allow for savouring each course can be a problem, too.
However, once everyone gets on the same page- the chef, the wait staff and the diners, slowing the pace of eating is a good thing. It brings about harmony with food, which is meant to be enjoyed taste by taste. It brings about opportunity for proper digestion. But perhaps the best thing of all is that there is immense time to share with the special people that you have chosen to include in your day.
The notion is very European, and is practiced in cities from London to Barcelona as a way of life. How I wished that we would follow a much healthier, balanced way of eating and friendship.