Office Lunches from Around the World (Part 1)

This is the first in my 4 part series on office lunches from around the world. I have friends living in all corners of the world and I often wondered what they ate for lunch at office, since setting up my own lunch box takes a good 10-15 minutes every morning! Some of my friends are blessed with canteens, so here are the first 6 countries out of my list of 25 countries. Feel free to send in your images or comments if you liked this blog entry and I will find a way to incorporate your info, into the next round of office lunches from around the world! πŸ™‚

Lunch time is essentially a meal time that truly formed a solid place in our schedules during the industrial era when workers needed a break. Whether it was a small affair or like Samuel Johnson stated in his English dictionary in 1755, “enough food that fits into one hand”, the term lunch itself has Anglo Saxon origins and today, we have conveniently shaped it into a half hour break to relax in between work. My blog aims to bring us some spectacular images sent by trusted friends, offering a unique glimpse into office lunches from around the world

Germany: The term Snack (Zwischenmahlzeit) is often used to explain, well, a snack that many Germans like to eat in between breakfast or lunch. Actually, they seem to have more words than just this extraordinarily long one but lunch (Mitagessen), is usually a proper one with lots of food forming a colorful medley on the plate.

My friend Shehrina Kamal working at DHL in Bonn, Germany, was brilliant about sharing all these pictures from her workplace, while her friends and dear hubby also contributed!! You may want to visit her adventures in many countries on her blog too πŸ™‚

A huge salad bowl from the DHL canteen in Bonn. credits @shehrinakamal
A not so healthy lunch addition πŸ™‚
supermarket bought salad with pretzels by Shehrina

Peru: Lunch in Peru begins between midday and 1 p.m., and it is common for shops and offices to shut at midday, with employees returning to work as late as 3 p.m. Many Peruvians head home for lunch and given their variety of food though, I wonder how they stay away from trying out all the diff cuisines they have access to… Chinese immigrants came mainly from the province of Guangdong in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They brought in ingredients and combined Peruvian ones to create Chifa cisine. The main staple foods in Peruvian cuisine however, are native crops such as corn, beans and potatoes as well as Andean quinoa and fresh fish.

One of those amazing friendships that form over a period of 3 days, Renata Tavara, working in the heritage sector in an organisation in Lima, Peru sent me these beauties as the only South American entry for this edition of office lunches from around the world!! You may also listen to her heritage related podcasts here

Chinese-Peruvian chicken by @plantreborn or renata
Pieces of tuna, fried potatos, tomatoes, chili, cilantro and viola! πŸ™‚

Pakistan: My mother’s from Pakistan, so I know a bit about the cuisine there. As kids, she and her siblings would eat a grand breakfast of parathas with huge omelettes or simply, some home made pickle or a slab of molasses! She gorged on canteen food at school and instead of lunch, she and her 6 boisterous siblings ate a heavy meal at around 5, so they could munch on sugar canes before hitting the bed by 8pm. I wonder how she still has all her teeth intact though but this means, lunch for families was probably non-existent. Now of course offices have a long lunch break on Fridays, to accommodate for prayer times and this gives people the opportunity to go for longer breaks at noon! πŸ™‚

One of my sister’s closest friends, Aaliya Safdar, or Aaliya baji (elder sis) as I call her, pestered her hubby Farrukh bhai, to send his office lunch pics and he obliged in the sweetest way possible!! :O I am officially floored!!! (Farrukh Rehan is CEO at Roche Pakistan, Karachi)

Chicken biryani makes people in the city of Karachi go bonkers so every Friday its biryani at the office canteen. Perfect way to kick start the weekend with post lunch coma πŸ˜€
Aaliya baji’s hubby trying to eat light, goes for a simple chicken wrap & a yoghurt drink delivered to him. πŸ˜‰
The office canteen where at least one person is eating a plate full of salad. I am wondering if that was his starter though… πŸ™‚

Phillipines: I met Rafael while he was travelling through India and we were at the same youth hostel. We sat one rainy Sunday binge watching the Avengers movies and ordering food and I guess, its something about food shared and a rerun watched together that seals some friendships πŸ˜€ Rafael is an immigration officer at the Manilla airport and has delightful horror stories to share, which I might persuade him to write about some day perhaps… For now, visit his website on travel, because if anything, this boy LOVES travelling πŸ˜€ from Spanish influences, to Chinese ones, the Filipinos eat an enviably sumptuous lunch!

Pork with kangkon
Yang Chow fried rice, which literally has everything from shrimp, to chicken, pork even or eggs. The most popular kind of fried rice in the Phillipines. A bowl of Sopas or soup (Spanish influence) and the pork dish is a usual lunch affair :O

Swaziland: I met Sndile Mamba during a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, where she was presenting a project she worked at, on the benefits of moringa! We’ve been friends ever since and this delightful character brightened up my office lunches from around the world list with her 2 star entries, with their own stories!

Samp beef stew, beans & Umbidhvo or green parts of pumpkin leaves.
Tripe soup that men simply luuurve πŸ˜€ Simply wash the cow tripe, you can do it with lime powder. Add a handful of finely chopped onions, water and simply boil it some salt!!

Singapore: Shimona Quazi, one of my all time fav teachers from University (where I studied Environmental Sciences), now of course a friend, works at the National Parks Board as a researcher in Singapore, after doing her Phd in Hawaii! Shimona’s office has a canteen and she eats healthy! In fact she enjoys her food so much that she was possibly one of the only people sending me images everyday for more than a week! πŸ˜€ Of course in between wandering off to eat lunch outside, including a drink called Michael Jackson, which was half soy milk (white) and half glass jelly (black)! Normally 12:30 is the time for lunch at her canteen so even a half hour delay means you have to eat noodles or something plain.

Fried fish in tomato sauce and winter melon (notice how she has no spoon though…) πŸ˜€
THIS is the office canteen! Shimona is STILL
not fat though I dont know HOW she manages!
And finally Shimona was on time one day to get served brown rice. It is accompanied by spinach, chicken with tofu and a spicy fish cooked with tomato & pickled veg πŸ˜€

I would lastly like to thank my friends Shehrina, Aaliya baji, Shimona, Rafael, Sndile and Renata for sending me such amazing content. It’s so interesting how even a simple office lunch can represent the culinary culture and the eating habits of the people. From eating rice as a staple, to the non-use of spoons, to going for balanced meals including soups… I wish you all bon appetite.

Until next week! (Australia, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Japan & Malaysia)