Who stole lunchtime?

3rd November 2013

When we were on holiday in France in the summer, it was fairly obvious that the French like to give themselves a little bit of extra time for lunch. It’s an important part of the day for them, a time to recharge from a busy morning’s work. There’s a lot to be said for eating lunch. I’m guessing that most people nowadays either eat at their desk, grab a quick steak bake from Gregg’s of skip lunch completely. It’s time to rediscover a lunchtime ritual.

When I was working in a factory on the edge of the Vosges Mountains in eastern France, many of the managers, office workers and engineers would go to a little auberge in the hills, settle themselves at a series of trestle tables, and be served a fantastic three course meal every day. The price was cheap, the selection narrow, the experience sublime. After an hour (or so) they would all pile into their cars and head off down the hill back into the factory.

The maintenance crew also got into the spirit. They would, each Friday, clear their benches (they finished at 12.30), bring out a series of white linen cloths, and load the tables with food and wine to share. It was a sociable thing and I would often be called over to share in their meal (it would have been rude to refuse!)

In the UK, we don’t take lunch as seriously. We don’t take enough time off in the middle of the day to chill a little and to take on sustenance. There is quite a bit of evidence to support the idea that eating at lunchtime is better for you if you’re trying to lose weight than eating in the evening. I also think from a concentration point of view, taking on energy in the middle of the day must do you some good. Angela and I often go out for lunch on our days off, rather than hitting a restaurant in the evening (for a treat, try The Cottage in the Wood up at Whinlatter for lunch – it’s perfect).

So I would like to start a campaign to bring lunch time back. Take your time, take a break. Eat well and healthily. Do lunch and be happy.

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