The Midday Meal

Take a Break


The midday meal provides a break in our busy routines, a time to refocus and take a step back from the noise of projects and deadlines. But in today’s hectic world, we often end up eating on the run and the customary lunch hour condenses into a few treasured minutes of quiet in an otherwise frenzied day. Portable and convenient lunches have become a vital part of our contemporary lives, and while a typical lunch in western nations could be soup and a sandwich or an efficient way to use up leftovers, other lunchtime traditions around the world would inspire us to lighten up our lunch break.

Lunchtime in Japan means perfectly packed Bento boxes, serving up an attractive array of Asian foods such as rice, meat and pickled vegetables, all carefully arranged to please both the eye and the palate. These individually portioned boxes, although a relatively up-and-coming trend in the western world, date back hundreds of years in Japanese culture and are the subject of specific classes and competitions.

Another longstanding lunch tradition is the Dabbawallas of India; an army of cyclists who navigate the chaotic streets of Mumbai on the ultimate lunchbox delivery system. ‘Dabba’, the metal lunch pails, are packed with portions of rice, curries, vegetables, and often dessert and the Dabbawallas pick up the pails from the worker’s home during the morning and deliver them to the workplace.  The empties are collected in the afternoon and returned, ready for lunch the next day.

In almost every culture, you will find a meat-filled pastry option on the lunch menu. Meat pies in Australia and New Zealand, spicy beef patties in Jamaica, empanadas in South America, and samosa in Southeast Asia, while Ukrainians enjoy Pirozhki, and French Canadians prefer Tourtiere. Pork pies are a classic in Britain, while Cornwall lays claim to the inimitable Cornish pasty. Although the finer ingredients may vary widely, the basic outcome is the same; a crispy golden pastry bursting with satisfying savoury filling.



When you plan your lunch breaks this week, try something a bit different and make time to enjoy this oasis in your busy schedule.

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