I always find it interesting to take a few moments and look at how other countries and cultures do things. It's that type of exposure and open-mindedness that helps to accelerate new ideas. Working in the United States, I know all too well what an American lunch looks like — it's typically anything from a sandwich to a slightly smaller portioned dinner complete with sides. But what about the rest of the world? What are we missing out on?
I've only traveled to a few countries, so I can only speak about a few international lunches personally. But in my mind they were all distinct and different, with the atmosphere of the city being a prominent part of the memory.
Having just returned from a trip to Costa Rica I can tell you that a typical Costa Rican dish involves Gallo Pinto, a rice and beans dish that you can't get enough of. You'd also often find roasted plantains on your plate (I'm so missing those right now). Throughout our trip, everything seemed to be surrounded in a soft white glow that just put you at peace. Now I understand why so many people want to retire here.
In Germany, I remember enjoying several varieties of sausages (hot and cold, red to white) and pretzels. I'll never forget the pretzels. I also distinctly remember having a beer with the meal, and I don't think we were the only ones. As one of the top consumer's of beer in the world, it seemed the Germans knew how to enjoy a brew with their midday meal which is typically the largest one of the day.
I didn't venture very far south into Italy, but I do remember enjoying a substantial multi-course meal that included a salad, fresh baked bread, and pasta while sipping on nuclear orange Aperol spritzers. At the cafe we stumbled into literally everyone had a glass of this with their meal. Ordering espresso after lunch also seemed to be the norm, and our experience of Italy was just like you might expect. We ate al fresco in a beautiful cafe with bright sunlight that peeked out against infinite rows of green vine along the mountain side.
In Spain, we were in the northern Basque region for our trip, and lunch was often served tapas style in plates called Pintxo's. Each item was on a small plate, with a toothpick inside so you'd could easily enjoy the bite. There would be a wide range of items on display from sausage to baby eel. You'd simply grab a mix of items, take them to the table with you and the waiter/waitress would count your toothpicks to tally up the bill. Spain was bustling with a sea of enthusiastic people enjoying life amongst buildings that held so much history.
I'm anxious to do more traveling. But before I do that maybe our international readers can let me know what to look forward to!
How do you eat lunch in your country?
Related: Eat Standing Up: 8 International Street Food Favorites
(All images: Chris Perez except 2. 4tulemar)