Sun, 20 Jul 2003

How lunch has changed over the years Has our perception of lunch changed over recent decades?

The expression "out to lunch", if written as a notice, originally meant that someone was having their lunch break, but in recent times it has taken on an additional, rather derogatory meaning. If someone is described as "out to lunch" they are inattentive, a daydreamer, inefficient or just plain stupid.

During the 1980s, when yuppies started to appear in the West and business success was regarded as the ultimate human achievement, another expression crept into the language. But is it true, as the expression goes, that lunch is only for wimps?

The hastily eaten lunch, snatched at a convenient moment, is a relatively recent phenomenon, and just one indication of the busy lives that so many of us seem to lead nowadays.

"There's no such thing as a free lunch" (meaning if someone else is paying, they'll be expecting something else in return), epitomizes the rationale behind the idea of the business lunch.

Doing business while eating can create a less formal atmosphere for both parties, while making use of what could otherwise be regarded as wasted time. Lunchtime, rather than the evening, somehow seems a more appropriate time at which to meet in this way, too. Don't forget, though, that payback time comes round eventually!

Sunday lunch in Britain used to be a social highlight of the week, when whole families would get together at home over a roasted joint of meat and potatoes plus vegetables.

With shops now open on Sundays, as any other day, the tradition has largely disappeared. Over here many restaurants find it can be their busiest day, as extended families often decide to eat out together. Special Sunday brunch deals are available, offering a well-presented, wide choice of attractive fare, as well as good value for money.

Ultimately, we all have to eat something around the middle of the day to provide the energy to keep going for the afternoon. Whether your preference is for a three-course, sit-down meal or just a bowl of instant noodles, bon appetit!

-- Jim Read