Learn more about Meal

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Common meals...
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Cuisine | Kitchen

For the coarsely ground flour, see flour.

A meal is an instance of eating, specifically one that takes place at a specific time and includes specific, prepared food.

Meals occur primarily at homes, restaurants, and cafeterias, but may occur anywhere . Regular meals occur on a daily basis, typically several times a day. Special meals are usually held in conjunction with such occasions as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and holidays.

A meal is different from a snack in that meals are larger and more filling, while snacks are more likely to be small, high-calorie affairs; however, any food eaten in small amounts at an unscheduled time can be classified as a snack.

A picnic is an outdoor meal where one brings one's food, such as a sandwich or a prepared meal in a picnic basket. It often takes place in a natural or recreative area, such as a park, forest, or beach. On long drives a picnic may take place at a road-side stop such as a rest area.

A banquet is a large, often formal, and elaborate meal with many guests and dishes.


[edit] A multicourse meal

Most multicourse meals follow a standard sequence, with each course interacting harmoniously with those that introduce and follow it. There are variations depending on location and custom. The following is a common sequence for multi-course meals:

1. The meal begins with a thin or thick soup course, such as a bisque, gazpacho or chowder.

2. This is followed by alternating entreés (according to North American usage of the term)— hearty courses such as meat or whole fish— and relevés (lighter courses), each with some kind of vegetable. Whether there is one or multiple entreés and relevés, this is considered the "main course" or central part of the meal.

3. Next comes the salad course, although "salad" may often refer to a cooked vegetable, rather than the greens most people associate with the word. According to the Joy of Cooking, greens serve "garnish duty only" in a salad course. Note that in the United States, the salad course (usually a green salad) is usually served at some point before the main course.

4. Salads are often followed by the penultimate course— a cheese selection, accompanied by an appropriate selection of wine.

5. Finally, the meal culminates with entremets, or dessert, either hot or cold, sometimes followed with a final serving of hot or cold fruit and accompanied by a suitable dessert wine.

Sorbet or other palate cleansers might be served between courses.

Before the meal, a host might serve a selection of appetizers or hors d'œuvre with appropriate wine or cocktails, and after the meal, a host might serve snacks, sweets such as chocolate, coffee, and after-dinner drinks (cognac, brandy,liqueur, or similar). These are not considered courses in and of themselves.

However, an appetizer or entrée (according to the British usage of the term) served at the dinner table might also be the first course, either replacing the soup course entirely, or served prior to the soup.

[edit] Customs, tradition, and etiquette

Customs and traditions regarding eating and meals vary from country to country, as well as within countries, based on such factors as regional differences, social class, education, and religion. In a complex, multi-cultural society there is increased risk of different customs and traditions clashing. What is correct behaviour, and what is not, and in what circumstances is the provenance of etiquette.

Examples of different customs and traditions:

  • Food in some cultures is eaten from individual plates or bowls, while in other cultures people eat from a common one. Even where people tend to eat from individual plates, there may be exceptions, as in the case of some small pieces of food that can be held in the hand easily, such as cookies or some snack foods, where it is common to eat from a common plate, biscuit tin, or similar container.
  • Different cultures might have different rules for eating the same item. In the USA people eat sausages in a bun, or with a knife and fork, while in some countries in Europe sausages are held between the fingers while being eaten.
  • In some cultures, it is considered proper to wait until everyone is seated before starting to eat, while in other cultures it is not an issue.
  • In some cultures it is considered proper to wait for the host to give the command before guests sit at the table for a meal, while in other cultures there are different rules.
  • In some religions, people pray or read aloud from a religious text before and possibly also after eating. In diverse, religiously mixed company where some people might want to pray, and others might not, it may be proper etiquette to allow for a short time of silence allowing those who want to do so the chance to pray.

[edit] Daily meals

Standard meals eaten on a daily basis have different names depending on the time of day or the importance of the meal:

  • Breakfast is usually eaten within an hour or two after a person wakes up in the morning.
  • Elevenses is a drink and light snack taken late morning after breakfast and before lunch.
  • Brunch is a late-morning meal, usually larger than a breakfast and usually replacing both breakfast and lunch.
  • Lunch is a midday meal may also be classified as dinner outside the US.
  • Dinner can be at any time of the afternoon or evening and usually denotes the main meal of the day; sometimes it is at lunchtime and sometimes at suppertime.
  • Tea is usually a midafternoon meal consisting of light fare with tea. Outside the US, tea may refer to the evening meal (dinner).
  • Supper is usually an evening meal.

At work, a coffee break is often taken by workers as part of the work day. How many of these coffee breaks one takes in the day varies, but two short breaks in an eight-hour day seems to be the norm in North America. A coffee break may last as little as ten minutes or as long as half an hour, but fifteen minutes seems to be the norm for office workers. In North America and other parts of the western world, coffee is generally regarded as the universal workplace beverage; It seems that nearly every workplace has some sort of access to a hot cup of coffee.

[edit] See also

de:Mahlzeit es:Comida fr:Repas gl:Comida mg:Sakafo ja:食事 fi:Ateria pl:Posiłek sv:Måltider


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