Office Lunches from Around the World (part 4)

This is the fourth part of my ongoing series on Office Lunches from Around the World, covering Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Macau and Turkey. This officially makes it 21 countries covered so far – of content diligently supplied by friends and acquaintances from across the globe, willing to take time out of their work to take pictures of their lunch! I can be persistent… but these people have outdone themselves in every way!


  • Land of the Thunder Dragon; Hottie King; Gross National Happiness Index

I met Sonam Gyeltshen online while researching for some info on archaeology for a project I was doing. He is an Assistant Archaeologist, working with the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Bhutan, currently working as a coordinator for restoration and adaptive re-use of Wangdichholing Palace Project in the central part of Bhutan. I have sadly never been to this wondrous land in the mountains, despite that fact that I sigh and melt everytime I look at their king, Jigme’s image… but if its not only for the monasteries and the feeling of finding Shangri-la in this mystical land, I would love to visit Bhutan to experience a nation, that values the happiness of its people (Happiness Index) while making teachers and medical staff their highest paid civilians!!! :O

Red rice, eggs and some vegetables, loaded with red chillies
Cauliflower curry with dried red chili… The Bhutanese eat chillies by the dozen and this is a normal helping for one person :O
Red rice with a meat curry, salad, chilly curry in the bowl and a preparation using cheese, to go with the rest of the flavors ๐Ÿ™‚ I wasnt exagerrating about the chilies… ๐Ÿ˜‰ But there’s milk in the cup to even it out ๐Ÿ™‚

Sri Lanka:

  • Ceylon tea; Switch over to Island Mode; Colonial Architecture & Cricket!

I always wanted to visit Sri Lanka, not just because it is right below us, a tear drop in the Indian Ocean, but because I loved their cricket team, especially their captain Sangakarra! Now after this exceedingly shallow confession, I move onto my experience of living and working there for more than 3 months. I was handling some social media work and literally eating my way through Colombo but the best part was watching what my colleagues brought for lunch. Infact, I conceived the idea of this blog in Sri Lanka, where at office I ate rice with curry, mango curries, the local snack Kottu, spicy chicken with coconut and even pestered people to bring extra food for me! With Muslim, Tamil and Burghers influences (the Portuguese-Dutch community) amidst the Buddhist traditions of vegetarian food, Sri Lankan food is basically alot of spice, cooked with other ingredients ๐Ÿ˜€ Lets just say they love their spices and I literally sniffled my way through all the food, loving it thoroughly! I think only Bhutan here can give the Sri Lankans any kind of competition when it comes to eating spicy food… ๐Ÿ˜€

An ordinary day in office can include this colorful bhat packut or packet of rice, with veggies, curries, a mango reduction and even pickles added into a striking medley. Don’t forget to dig in with your hands…
Banana leaf wrapped around rice & curry which comes with an assortment of sides, samosa type wraps with fish or chicken, and some barbecued meat, loaded with spices.
Kottu is a meal of roti, shredded on a skillet with vegetables or chicken and vegetables and lots of sauces and spices turning it into the perfect snack


  • Portuguese ex-Colony; Patua -Critically Endangered Language; Chinese-Portuguese Fusion Food

Macau is one of the tiniest countries with a population that makes it the most populated one, as well as one of the richest ones! A Portuguese colony until 1999, this tiny nation has a delightful medley of cultures and possibly, one of the first known instances of fusion food: mixing Chinese and Portuguese cuisines. Also known as the Las Vegas of Asia, its historic city centre ranks as a UNESCO World Heritage Site while its language Patuรก, is a creole language (a blend of Portuguese and Cantonese), recognised by UNESCO as a critically endangered one. Although my friend Jenny Kong, doing a 2nd Masters in Educational and Child Psychology, is from Hong Kong – she didn’t feel the routine of her student life would fit the description of office food and thus, requested her husband based in Macau to send images of his food. He sent me an entire folder, complete with captions!!!! Now THATS how people have spoiled me on my journey through Office Lunches from Around the World ๐Ÿ˜€

Rice and Braised Pork with Preserved Veg in Soy Sauce

Deep fried dim sum platter with Spring roll, Mixed puff with pork & Fried Capsicums & Eggplants with Minced Fish
At Cantonese Dim Sum restaurant
Japanese Enoki mushroom beef rolls


  • Oldest inhabitations – Gรถbekli Tepe; The Ottomans; Turkish food & well cared for stray cats

Iraz Alpay (her name is read as uh-raz ๐Ÿ˜€ ) was part of a summer school I attended in Crete, Greece and together with Marcelo, we three were thick as thieves! An archaeologist in Turkey who is currently finishing her Phd, Iraz has an insatiable appetite for laughter… and the Greek raki we were generously provided with! Iraz tells me that a lot of people go for the usual snack like pides (same as the Greek Pites, all of which mean pie) but there are also those that like ordering homely dishes like soups and salads or rice and meat, or Adana Kebap

Pide is a base of either pita, pizza dough type preparation but just an open faced pie with glorious toppings! Much like the Greek Pites, it is super popular o the streets and homes of Turkey


  • The Land of Fire; One of the First to Legalise Women Voting; Carpet Weaving

Azerbaijan has been one of the countries on the top of my bucket list, especially since they won the UNESCO label for Intangible Cultural Heritage for the dolmades! I mean after eating these vine leaf wrapped bombs of deliciousness, all over the Mid East, Greece and even our versions of Dolma in India and Bangladesh (we use the pointed gourd to fill usually), the Azeri cultural practice of serving dolmades was recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage! In any case, being an ex-Soviet nation, smack in the middle of a hotbed of cultures, Azerbaijan also has this unique culture of loving fire! Scientifically, the vast quantities of subterranean gas are responsible for their eternal love but the Zoroastrians in the past had alot to do with it too… Nigar Mammadova from Baku supplied me with pictures of her office canteen, for Office Lunches from Around the World, at an international organisation she works at. This entire region seems to love their greens and other than a staple meat or fish, cheese and greens are joined by fresh juices and fruits. Lunch time here is from 11am-2:30pm, with an hour given to tuck in.

Do I see french fries..? ๐Ÿ˜€
There were even more images of the salad counter but this just makes me feel healthier…

As always, this journey through the lunches off the plates of people working at office around the world would have been impossible without the wonderfully, large hearted support of Sonam Gyeltshen from Bhutan, Nigar from Azerbaijan, Jenny’s husband Peter Lo from Macau, iraz Alpay from Turkey and my hapless colleagues in Colombo, Sri Lanka for letting me interrupt their lunch!