Meal : nm A meal refers to the food and drink consumed each day at a fixed time. The three main meals of the day are breakfast (buffet, breakfast, brunch), lunch and dinner; other snacks sometimes punctuate the day: the snack, to taste, tea, Soul, even thein case.
The word "meal" comes from perfectly "Food" in old French. In the XNUMXth century, it meant "food".
Formerly, the word "meal" sometimes had the meaning of "feast". But nowadays we specify "a festive meal".
By extension, the meal is a specific action, devoted to food, which enters into the cycle of daily activities. It is often perceived as a natural act because it meets the satisfaction of essential physiological needs. From a sociological and anthropological point of view, the meal is not only thought of as a means of satisfying oneself, but also as a ritualized way of producing and maintaining social ties; This is evidenced by the strong social, cultural and / or religious symbolic load contained in food in human representations.
As a vital necessity responding to chemical and biological imperatives which allow the survival and reconstitution of biological tissues, it is the object of study for dietetics.
As an act of commensality, it belongs to culture and comes under anthropology, ethnography, sociology, psychology, education, teaching, technique.
The choice of composition of the food, the repetition of the act at the same times, each day, and the duration of the action distinguish the meal from other food acts; snacking while watching TV, pecking wild fruits in an undergrowth, nibbling canapes at a reception or eating a sandwich while driving a car, for example, do not constitute a meal even though these actions may appease hunger and participate in the maintenance of life.
The vast majority of cultures distinguish several types of meals, depending on the time of day and the amount of food they contain, the most important corresponding to the most intense moments of conviviality and having a strong symbolic or religious load.
The amount of food varies depending on the meal, and nutritionists recommend calories, vitamins, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and fibers that correspond to the physical and intellectual activity that we must provide before the next meal. On average, the first meal of the day should provide 25% of the amount needed, the mid-day meal should provide almost half, and the last meal can be lighter to aid digestion during sleep.
The names of the meals punctuate the day. But depending on the time, the meals were not always taken at the same times. Thus in the Middle Ages, dinner, the first meal of the day, was taken in the morning, as the aphorism recalls:
Get up at five, dine at nine
Supper at five, sleep at nine
Live nineties and nine.
The morning meal : The first meal of the day is usually taken soon after waking up; it is therefore the one who breaks the fast. Hence the name lunch common in Belgium, Congo, Switzerland, Canada within the family and in certain rural areas of France. Elsewhere in France, it takes the name of Breakfast. The importance of this meal tends to decrease, which reinforces the role of the other two main meals.
In the West, there are traditionally two main types of morning meal:
a fairly light meal, rather sweet and generally composed of a hot drink (milk, coffee, tea or milk chocolate) accompanied by toast to which can be added, especially on public holidays, pastries (croissant, pain au chocolat, brioche …), from Orange juice, a yogurt or cereals sweet (muesli);
a larger meal, also accompanied by a hot drink (coffee or tea, sometimes milk or chocolate) usually including eggs and cold meats, as well as cheese, and sometimes cereals.
In the Anglo-Saxon world, these two types of (breakfast) are generally referred to as continental for the first and Anglo-Saxon for the second.
The "Anglo-Saxon" (breakfast) can take the form of a brunch taken in the middle of the morning, which will take place at the same time of meal of the morning and noon.
Lunch : Where the term lunch is reserved for the morning meal, that of midday is called dinner; elsewhere in France, it is the breakfast.
It is usually taken between noon and 14 p.m. in many European countries, sometimes even later such as in Spain and Russia.
In France, even if it is the meal that is most frequently taken outside the family home, it still often retains a traditional structure with a starter, a main course and a cheese and / or a dessert. Only the main course is compulsory, the others depending on the appetite and the budget of each one. From appetizers to cheese, most French people will consume bread. This meal is traditionally accompanied by wine or beer depending on the location, this daily consumption of alcoholic drinks being more and more often replaced by water.
In Korea, the meal is often composed of soup and a single dish that accompanies more than is accompanied by a varying number of banchan. The white rice is the only dish that the conveniences indicate to finish obligatorily.
The dinner : Countries and regions which reserve the term of dinner at the midday meal designate this evening meal as supper.
This meal is eaten shortly after 17 p.m. in many parts of Europe and North America, in hospitals and nursing homes. However, women's work outside the home has caused the postponement of this meal, which is taken more and more often after 18 p.m.
In France, this meal is usually taken between 19 p.m. and 22 p.m., sometimes until 23 p.m. in the south of France during the summer. The evening meal is often comparable in its composition to the midday meal, although often simpler. It is an opportunity to get together with family around the table. In this country, supper is an additional meal after dinner, it is a light meal taken at the end of the evening, but its use has fallen into disuse.
With the same delay as for the midday meal, in Spain and Argentina the evening meal is not taken before 22 p.m. Moreover, the restaurants do not open their doors there before 21 p.m.
In Germany, where the midday meal is much more often taken at home, we eat more sparingly in the evening (cold meats and salads).
Other meals :
- chip, snack: The meal can be very modest, sometimes simply consisting of crusts of bread. From there come the term croustille, synonymous with small meal, and the phrase Passer à la croustille, applied to those who receive assistance in food. From the meal of crusts of bread comes the snack (See also Snack under Slang).
- brunch : A brunch is a type of meal that is eaten between the end of the morning and the beginning of the afternoon (between 11 a.m. and 15 p.m. approximately) and which combines typical dishes and drinks for breakfast and lunch. In France, it is mainly practiced on weekends by young urbanites.
- collation : In Belgium and in the north of France, we talk about a snack to designate a light meal taken around 16:30 or 17 p.m. In Canada, a snack can instead be taken in the middle of the afternoon, halfway between lunch and dinner, so between 14 p.m. and 16 p.m. In France we also talk about snacks.
Historically, the snack is first the light meal taken by the monks after the small evening conference. The term then designates a meal, always light, taken anytime during the day (even at night), but most often in the afternoon or evening. The snack is also the name of the restricted meal which replaces one of the two main meals for Catholics on fast days; it is made up of milk, fish, salads, fruit, sometimes accompanied by jams.
- in case (or snack): The snack is a snack, usually cold, prepared for serving when needed. The night snack was prepared at the court or in the houses of the well-to-do. That of King Louis XIV was made up of "three buns, two bottles of different wines, including one from Spain or Muscat, a flask of water, a glass, a cup of vermeil, several napkins and three plates".
By metonymy, the small piece of furniture reserved for the service of this meal bears the same name.
- to taste (or snack): In the afternoon, the afternoon snack (or four hours) is a sweet snack usually offered to children. The consumption of pastries with tea or coffee in the middle of the day is also common among many adults when their occupations leave them free.
- The fifth: This is a meal taken late at night (after 23 p.m. or midnight), often made up of leftovers from the day, or a snack. The fifth is consumed by people who come home late from work, after a meeting (See Medianoche).
The term is commonly used in the field of animation, in summer camps, to designate the fifth meal of the day that the animators will take after the children have fallen asleep.
Places of meals : Meals can be taken at home or outside. When they are taken at home, meals take place either in a specialized room: the dining room, or more and more often in the place of preparation: the kitchen.
Outdoors, they can be taken in specialty establishments, restaurants, or consist of special preparations meant to be eaten on the go. There are also places for collective catering for people who frequently eat away from their home: school or business canteens or university restaurants, for example.
Meals can also be taken outside, in the form of picnic.
Le sprunch is a neologism born (…) in 2010 to define a brunch taken in a luxury hotel SPA.
Utensils for meals : The main utensils (cutlery) for handling food are the fork, or chopsticks in Asia, for solid foods and the spoon for liquids. In many countries in Africa and Asia, it is customary to eat all together in a common dish. Each guest can draw food from it with their right hand, the other hand being considered unclean because it is reserved for personal hygiene, for example.
On the most sophisticated tables, the table setting can be very complex, each guest having to manage more than twenty multiple accessories: water or wine glasses, flat or hollow plates for starters, meat or meat knives. fish, flat or deep plates for main dishes, forks with three or four prongs, tablespoons, coffee or dessert spoons, napkins or even specific utensils (tongs crabe, pliers sknife Oysters, Etc.).
Festive meals : In France, inviting friends or family members to a more or less festive meal is a common social activity. These holiday meals are, like the daily meals, structured into several well-defined dishes, of which only the one called main course is mandatory, the others can be eliminated or substituted for others according to the appetite, the time of which one available, the degree of sophistication sought ... A wedding banquet will include, for example, a large number of dishes, possibly interspersed with entertainment.
An extremely formal meal may consist of the following dishes, possibly with a break consisting of a Norman hole:
- an aperitif, accompanied by appetizers: small bites, toast or savory cakes;
- appetizers ;
- a hot or cold soup (soup, consomme, etc.);
- one or more cold starters;
- one or more hot starters;
- a first course, often fish;
- a second course, often of meat;
- green salad ;
- a cheese platter;
- a dessert, often consisting of pastries;
- fresh fruit;
- a coffee, sometimes served with a bite of chocolate or dried fruits;
- a digestive, supposed to facilitate digestion.
Aperitif, coffee, and digestives are often served in the living room rather than at the table. The order of the service is also generally fixed. Alcohol consumption, and in particular wine, is much more important there than during daily meals.
The number of dishes of these festive meals is tending to decrease, however, even if it still happens to see family reunions almost without interruption the evening meal after that of noon as the number of dishes served makes the meal long.
Some occasions are the pretext for rituals or special dishes. For example at Christmas, When New Year's Eve, we eat a log of Christmas or poultry with chestnuts, at Epiphany, we hide a broad bean in a cake to draw the kings, at Candlemas we eat pancakes, at Easter we eatlamb pascal and chocolate eggs ...
Quote from Jules Jouy, French poet and songwriter (1855-1897): “Family meals do not consist of eating with parents”.
Quote from the writer Michel Houellebecq in Sérotonine (at Flammarion - 2019): "The waiters had recently acquired the mania to declaim the composition of the slightest appetizer, the swollen tone half gastronomic half literary, watching the customer for signs of complicity or at least of interest, in order I imagine to make the meal a convivial shared experience, whereas their way of launching " Good tasting ! "At the end of their greedy harangue was generally enough to cut my appetite"