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MUNCH TIMES


MUNCH TIMES

The way we eat has changed beyond all recognition in a couple of generations. Some countries are more regimented than others but it seems all bets are off now in the modern era of shift work, TV dinners, takeaways and eating on the go. Fast and cheap food at every turn has meant the temptation of just scoffing nonstop throughout a day meaning our tummies do not get a breather and our system is in a constant process of churning our food and drink, which it is simply not equipped to do.

   I recall early Irish visitors returning from Spain in the seventies just not being able to cope with having dinner at ten in the evening a whole four hours after our tea at home. Or was that dinner? Ireland is still split into two camps with some of us still wanting our main meal during day which is confusingly called our dinner and not lunch, thus giving us our much smaller meal or tea later on in the early evening around six. Then we will have a later snack again or supper around ten or eleven but maybe not if there have been a few pints consumed in the pub after tea.


Speaking of supper, that has another meaning altogether for the English which is actually their late evening dinner after they have had a mid afternoon tea as a result of eating an earlier lunch at noon. The word supper comes from the soup which is all it was in the past before morphing into any light meal.


It has had timelines ranging from after sixish in the evening to the early hours of the following day depending on which century and the occasion. Those of a certain age will remember nightclub suppers. So lots of us still have lunch during the day as a light meal and then have a dinner or bigger feed in the evening which leaves no room whatsoever for a late night supper before bed if dinner is finishing at nine or ten at night. Lunch too can turn out to be a lingering event also stretching all afternoon and running into tea or dinner time, something that can be a bother in restaurants when trying to give staff a break or setting up the room for an evening service.

      Smaller breakfasts seem to suit everyone these days unlike before in rural economies when it would be more substantial with a fry up of sorts for all the hard work out in the fields. What has changed is that in between these meal times there is even more eating which was not the case in the past. The first thing people seem to do now when they rock up to work in the morning is making another cuppa or grabbing one on the way. Breakfast and lunch have also been joined up to give us brunch just to add yet another mealtime slot.



On the continent it is all rather fixed in an agreed routine with dinner only in the evening and it happens later the more to the sunny south you go around the Med. Even though long continental lunch breaks were common in the past it did not mean people ate loads. The lunchtimes may have shortened now but people still eat light, preferring to enjoy a longer relaxed dinner instead.


Eating late is not as bad for the metabolism as you think as it depends what you eat and if ingredients suit you, so the whole of France, Italy and Spain cannot be wrong, they just know their bodies better.Before any of that though there will be the pre dinner aperitif in early evening around five in order to prepare the tummy by getting the gastric juices running so that food will be more easily digested. It can be in a cafe, pub or at home and usually with a few nibbles too, hence the tapas in Spain.

Here it is more likely to be a couple of pints in the pub than a French Kir Cassis which is what I enjoy. Whatever way you eat these days it is best to have some sort of routine, forward planning of meals, familiarity with foods that you like and balance to your overall intake and the top tip is still not eating between mealtimes as your body will make you pay dearly.

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