Friday, 16 November 2012

Food Terminology

If you are new to the UK, be prepared to be confused at mealtimes. Lunch, dinner, tea, supper, luncheon, which one is when?

Algeria and France

In Algeria, the main three meals are called qahwa (coffee, whether you drink it or not), ftour (for midday meal, which also designates the evening meal to break Ramadan fast!), 'acha (the evening meal, similar to the word desingating the evening prayer).

In France, they are petit déjeuner, déjeuner and dîner.

In both Algeria and France, the midday meal is the most substantial one. When I lived in France, we used to have a two-hour midday break, encompassing a two or three course meal at a restaurant, plus coffee once back at work.
The customary Friday couscous in Algeria is infallibly served at midday, just before the Friday prayer.


When I first visited BabelDad's family in Germany, I literally starved during the day. I had to sneak out for a pretend walk in the fresh air at 2pm, only to ravenously gulp down a Döner Kebab. The main meal of the day in Germany, you guessed it, is the evening one. I made up for the lack of sustenance during the day by eating huge amounts of bread and cheese at frühstück, and loads of cake in the afternoon.

Northern England

In the UK, mealtimes can get a bit confusing. Be careful when you make an appointment with a plumber at dinner time, or tea time. If you are from a southern background like mine, you would naturally think dinner time is about 8pm and tea time about 4pm. Well, you would be surprised by the plumber turning up unexpectedly at noon or 6pm instead. Dinner in these necks of the wood is the midday meal. Tea is the evening meal, which in the UK is quite early at 5.30pm to 6pm.

So what's supper? Apparently, it is another evening meal, a couple of hours later than tea, for posh people (...), or for parents who have put their children to bed and now can enjoy a child-free meal. Note: we do have family meals in our house, at 6pm, but boy do I understand those parents who forego tea with children for a quiet supper!

And if you are wondering what the English call the drink tea time, there isn't a name, because you can enjoy a cuppa any time of the day. Off to have mine in my £10 porcelain mug. Because drinking tea for me has become one of the most frequent and enjoyable activities of the day.