Lunch means something different to everyone, and at every hour of the day there will be someone enjoying their version of lunch somewhere around the globe – be it only two slices of bread and a topping, or a full-blown all-afternoon extravaganza.
Here are three places from around the world where special lunches are enjoyed every day.
Sicily is blessed with fertile volcanic soils and near year-round sunshine which produces some of the finest tomatoes, wines, and lemons. While the quality of the fruit and vegetable harvest is renowned the world over, with summer temperatures quickly reaching 35 degrees, a heavy lunch is the last thing Sicilians want to eat.
In fact, the locals have a notoriously sweet tooth and it is more common to see ice cream on the lunch menu rather than something as heavy as a sandwich.
A quick lunchtime snack picked up from a kiosk could be fresh lemon granite, a slushy mix of crushed ice and sweetened lemon juice, or one of a selection of frozen gelato cones that have been pre-topped with a delicious scoop of ice cream.
Sit down for lunch in a cafe and you may well see everyone around you tucking guiltlessly into huge ice cream sundaes, or sweet brioche buns sliced in two and served with 2-3 scoops of ice cream.
The island of Sicily is located just off the coast of the ‘toe’ of southern Italy. While still a part of Italy, often Sicilians think of themselves first as ‘Sicilians’ before ‘Italians’. Sicily is located in the Central European time zone, UTC +1, and the currency is the Euro (EUR).
The capital city is Palermo on the north-western coast, while smaller and less-crowded Catania is the largest city on the east coast. Major airports in both cities connect the island to mainland Europe, alongside sea ports direct to mainland Italy, the island of Sardinia and Malta.
Sicily is famed for its food and wine, so take every opportunity to try something from the local area. Pistachios, almonds, lemons, olives, and vegetables are grown all over the island, not to mention a wide variety of grape types for wines.
To find out more, visit the website of the Italy tourism board.
Spanish-influenced countries in Central and Southern American often follow the same principle of having lunch as the main meal of the day. In Mexico, lunch is served between 2pm and 5pm and consists of a variety of dishes, usually a soup, salad, main dish and dessert. While businesses may close for this period during the day, this is to allow workers to return home and enjoy the meal with family.
Native produce to Mexico includes beans, corn, and chilli peppers, and these three ingredients form the basis for many Mexican dishes. Traditional methods of using corn involve the time-consuming process of drying and grinding it for tortillas, which are served for almost every meal, or using it as a base to thicken the hot drink atole.
Beans or frijoles are typically boiled and then fried, and their rich source of protein makes them quite filling, especially when served with the meat main course of beef stew or pork. Not forgetting the chilli pepper, Mexicans love their food strong in flavour – the stronger the better and this means packed with chilli peppers. Some restaurants even mention ‘unsuitable for tourists’ next to particularly spicy dishes, and if you’re not used to the heat, best heed the warning.
As a relatively long country, Mexico’s climate varies from dry arid desert in the north, to humid and tropical in the south. Both coasts can be affected by hurricanes and tropical storms during the summer and autumn months, which makes February to April the best time of the year to visit the country. The time zone is UTC -8 to -6 and the currency is the Peso (MXN).
Mexico has 1,834 airports, which places it 3rd in the world for number of airports per country. Mexico City International Airport is the largest airport in Latin America and is located next to the capital city, while Cancún International Airport is located on the Yucatán Peninsula, a popular tourist destination on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Aztec ruins are a big tourist attraction in Mexico. The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in the ancient city of Teotihuacan some 50 kms outside of Mexico City are some of the biggest and oldest built structures still standing in Latin America. The city of Guadalajara is not to be missed for its museums, galleries and mariachi music.
For more information, visit the Mexico tourism board.
India has some of the most populated cities on the planet. You would expect that delivery services would also be a highly disorganised tangle of traffic and craziness, but out of this chaos an efficient homemade lunch delivery system was born.
A light lunch called dabba in Hindi, or the Anglicised version ‘tiffin’, is cooked at home and packed into boxes before being collected by freelance couriers on bikes who whisk away the meal to their destinations, sometimes even travelling by train. The dabba usually contain a selection of Indian dahl, curry, rice, vegetables, and chipatis, all freshly made from home.
This style of delivery service came about because of the wariness about the quality and content of meals served in schools and restaurants around offices. As a result, these meals are by and large delivered to children in schools and office workers in the city.
Dabba delivery has slowly been making an appearance in other countries, most notably the United Kingdom and specifically London where the Indian connection runs deep. There’s nothing quite like home-cooked food, even when you’re thousands of miles from home.
India is a vast country, spanning from the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. Depending on where you travel, generally speaking February-March and October-November are the better times to visit; from June to October the rainy season dominates. The time zone is UTC + 5.30 and the currency is the rupee (INR).
Depending on where you travel there are a number of options for getting into India. Indira Gandhi International Airport near Delhi and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport near Mumbai are the two biggest airports serving India, with a huge number of smaller airports serving internal flights.
India is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among them the famous Taj Mahal and Buddhist temple Bodh Gaya. The ‘Golden Triangle’ of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in central India is often quoted as the best way to get a taste of India in only 7-10 days.
For more information about India, visit the India tourism board.