Office Lunches from Around the World (Part 3)

Food Culture in Offices

This is the 3rd part of my ongoing series on Office Lunches from Around the World, representing food culture in offices from Indonesia, Jordan, Brazil and Nepal. My trusted band of friends, whose inner food enthusiast emerged after being commissioned with this task, has helped me cover 13 countries so far. This blog covers 4 new ones and I still have images to fill up at least 2 more blogs! The purpose of this blog was to show how even a short break in our daily work routines still involves a representation of our culinary heritage and eating trends. A lot of images were taken at food stalls but some office also have internal canteens or people share each other’s food. With a half hour break in most cases, eating something like rice or a large platter can seem over the top for some people while a mere sandwich, a dismal affair to the others! I hope these images give you a tiny glance into the culinary heritage and food culture of these countries.

Indonesia

  • Islands, Komodo Dragons, Bali and Spicy Food šŸ™‚

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and thus, home to a staggering variety of cuisines, transcending across to food cultures in offices. Most of us are familiar with the more popular Nasi Goreng or Beef Rendang, or just something with noodles. But the Indonesians were only introduced to wheat when the Portuguese and Dutch arrived about 400-500 years ago. Add to this, the Spanish in the 16th century, brought the chilli pepper from the new world, and the relish sambal, was created in the hot steamy settings of some Javanese village. Today, Indonesian cuisine is a melange of tastes from Indian origins, Chinese settlers from the 7th century, as well as the largest Muslim population of any country, making the food supremely diverse, unique and halal. The pictures below were sent to me by Angeline Basuki, an architect and the next batch at my Heritage Management Masters course. She was enthusiastic enough to source these pictures while being based in Greece. All the dishes represent local food that is easily available anywhere and costs about $1.5. I just love how they eat so much rice like here in Bangladesh… I admire people who get right back to work and beat the rice coma!!!

Nasi rames/warteg (rice with mix of own choices dishes)
Nasi tim (steamed rice) with chicken and egg, served with chicken broth, is a Chinese-Indonesian dish



Mie goreng (fried noodles) with chicken and crunchy vegetables

Brazil

  • The Amazon, Beaches, Football & Samba

I had the amazing fortune of visiting Brazil in 2012 and other than the warmth people showed us, I was wowed by the cultural diversity. Until I reached there, I hadn’t realised that even the Japanese formed a part of their culinary and cultural heritage! Generally, their food is all about meat and meat and well, more meat! But they have loads of vegetables too and then you have a spectacular entry like Acai berries and the many beans and greens. Add to this, the Italian and Japanese influences, Brazilian cuisine has mind blowing diversity. I met Elisa Cerqueira, one of our caterers for the duration of our stay in Rio de Janeiro (same event where I was with the amazing Sndile from Swaziland, mentioned in the first post) so I had a very basic idea of the food culture in offices of Rio.

Elisa still runs her catering service with innovative ideas and she sent me images of these lunch boxes prepared for her clients. A big Oi to her from me and a huge round of applause for the effort put into these awesome looking lunch boxes! (Men… I can just see you lot, drooling like babies at the meat fest in these images!!!)

Carne bovina assada com purĆŖ de abĆ³bora – Roast beef with Pumpkin Puree
FeijĆ£o preto com linguiƧa e bacon defumados, arroz branco e couve refogada – Black beans with Smoked Sausage and Bacon, White Rice and Braised Cabbage.
AlmĆ“ndegas com polenta – Meatballs with Polenta

Jordan

  • Petra, Mansaf, Ancient History & the Dead Sea

When I arrived in Jordan, eagerly looking forward to the food there, I was enthusiastically informed by the locals that no visitor ever leaves without gaining at least 2 kgs…. I think I successfully left with 5 kgs extra and am still carrying it around, but that food tastes nothing less than magic! The mansaf was a Middle Eastern version of our biryani which had been heavily recommended to me but my senses were entirely keyed in on the local cheeses, especially the Nabulsi, (originating from the Palestinian region of Nablus) which was also used in the to-die-for dessert Knafeh and the hung yoghurt, with herbs rolled into a ball of divinity… the food below has been supplied to me by my dear friend Saed Essalaimeh( energy engineer working in a Sustainable Dev project in Jordan), who I met at a leadership program in the UK in 2013. We reconnected in Jordan in 2015 and I think he noticed how I love food… šŸ˜® (not embarrassing at all!!!!)

Tomatoes with Pepper, Hummus and Brown Beans & Roasted eggplant sauce make up a normal lunch which everyone is eating, as opposed to rushed affairs at their desks.

THIS is what I got to eat in Amman, the capital of Jordan. There’s lots of yoghurt with herbs, pickles vegetables, kababs, tabouleh, clay oven baked bread, roasted peppers with tomatoes… I stuffed my face naturally!

Nepal

  • Mt. Everest, the Gurkhas, Land of Buddha & Thamel

My brother once worked in Nepal and was invited to lunch. He woke up, had a heavy breakfast and showed up by 10am on a Sunday. Lunch was served at 11am and it was a complete thaali or platter with everything from vegetables to rice to meat! Turns out, the Neplalis wake up to pray at the crack of dawn and have lunch by 11 since they are about to collapse at that point. That day my brother learnt it the hard way, but this food culture in offices is a dying trend in the more corporate set ups now. My friend Tyseer who works at Standard Chartered Bank here in Dhaka, requested his colleague in Nepal to send these pictures, taken during lunch time which was between 1-3pm. I met Tyseer Amin during our Bacherlor’s graduation in 2007, while he was graduating with a Masters degree. The president of the country was addressing the graduating congregation and well, hardly anyone could understand what he was saying so we at the back, sat making up the lines we thought he was saying. And thats how we remained friends! šŸ˜€

This particular list had countries that are famous for their food and the vibrancy of their food culture in offices. The people enjoy their meals and take time out to relish their lunchtime, a cultural trait aptly represented in the images. I would like to send out a HUGE, heartfelt and sincere thank you – to Angeline from Indonesia, Elisa from Brazil, Saed from Jordan and Tyseer for sourcing Nepal images. You people made this series come alive with your images and thoughtful comments and explanations of the food. I pray you always have access to the most delicious meals ever! šŸ˜€