November 3rd is Sandwich Day, and if you ask us, it should be recognised as a public holiday! But are our friends in other countries as enamoured with the humble sandwich as we are? Here are 10 lunches from around the world.
We might as well start at home! As mentioned above we love a good sandwich, and it’s probably our most common lunch item whether we’re bringing in a packed lunch from home, heading out to a sandwich shop, or nipping to the supermarket for a meal deal. Often paired with crisps, fruit and maybe a chocolatey treat, it’s a classic British office lunch. While most of us like to have a bit of time away from our workstations to break up the day, many Brits seem to be getting busier and busier, so a sandwich at our desks is becoming more common than ever.
In France, kids are taught to appreciate good food from a young age, and this ethos goes right with them into adulthood; you won’t catch many French workers hunched over a sandwich at their desk! It’s customary to sit down for lunch together rather than throwing something down your neck as quickly as possible, and lunchtime is meant to be a break from work, so discussing work matters is frowned upon. Instead, this time is to be savoured with bigger lunches ranging from no-cook meals such as breads, cheeses, cold soups and baguettes, to more extravagant fare such as pastas and stews made with fresh ingredients.
While the siesta isn’t as common as it used to be in the larger, business-driven cities, it’s still very much a part of the working day for most. Many Spaniards will head home for lunch, spending time with their families and relaxing for three hours or so before heading back into work. Lunch is considered the most important meal of the day, and with many workers being at home anyway, or at the very least having enough time to get to a proper restaurant, lunch is a multiple-course affair, often starting with soup or salad before moving onto a meat or fish course (paella perhaps) and finishing off with some fruit or a pastry.
Punctual and precise, the vast majority of Germans will clock off at exactly 12pm for between 30 minutes and an hour and head to an onsite cafeteria, if their workplace is big enough, or a cafe if not. Traditionally, Germans enjoy a lunch of meat, potatoes and vegetables, but also common is leberkäse sausage served on a bread roll and seasoned with mustard and pickles, as well as currywurst sausage.
It’s common in Kenya to skip breakfast and start work early to beat the traffic, particularly in the city, so a full hour for lunch is common practice. Colleagues and friends will often go out for a sit-down meal consisting of meat or fresh fish, which is fried, smoked or boiled. One thing you will rarely see is a Kenyan dining alone, instead opting to go out in a group and enjoying each other’s company before getting back to the grind.
Delivery is the order of the day in India, but not as we know it. Hot curry, rice, vegetables and flatbreads are delivered straight to Indians while at work, which they’ll take half an hour out of their day to enjoy in the cafeteria. Lunches are either prepared at home by their wives or mothers and picked up by the delivery men, or ordered from local eateries to arrive on time each day.
The Chinese aren’t prone to heading out for lunch — they’ll normally enjoy their lunch at the office cafeteria with their colleagues. The most common practices are to bring in a packed lunch or purchase a bian dang — a boxed lunch containing rice, meat, dumplings and steamed veg. In some workplaces you’ll even find a two-hour lunch the norm, so workers can do as the Spanish do and enjoy a snooze to improve their efficiency in the afternoon.
Aussies work through lunch a lot more than you might expect, with most people taking less than half an hour and many working while they eat or even skipping lunch all together! What this means is that they’ll probably be celebrating Sandwich Day right there with us, as sandwiches are the ultimate convenience food. Even grabbing a burger from a local joint isn’t unheard-of down under.
Brazilians are another group that’s big on tradition — unlike Aussies, you won’t find them eating at their desks. In fact, many workers in Brazil won’t even have a coffee while on the go, choosing instead to make a point of stopping and enjoying whatever they’re consuming, whether they’re at a restaurant of a food cart. Many enjoy the meals you’d expect such as seafood stews, and rice and beans with meat or eggs, but if you head into the cities, you’ll often find buffets where what you pay is reflected by the weight of your plate!
A necessity rather than a social gathering, some Americans will head out for lunch but normally to grab something quick and convenient from a sandwich bar, food truck or pizza place and head straight back to their desk. Many will still bring in a brown paper bag with a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a bag of chips — I guess they’re not so different from us.