One of the many differences between Australians and Germans is the relative importance placed on daily meals. In Germany, lunch is traditionally the main meal of the day – this may have changed a bit in line with modern working conditions, but they love a hot lunch. When B was a child the school day finished at 1pm and he came home to a big family lunch. That, to my mind, is madness.

The English are also partial to a hearty midday meal, whether it’s school dinners or a Sunday roast.

I just wasn’t raised that way. In Australia we didn’t have school dinners and we wouldn’t have wasted hours of good outside time on a weekend to roast a bird and a load of stodgy veg. Lunch is a sandwich or salad and yoghurt or fruit. Chocolate bar at 3pm for sustenance. Dinner is the main meal of the day.

This is unfortunate, as it turns out. I work in a building in London that houses a large Japanese investment bank. This week my colleagues and I have been allowed access to their staff restaurant. It isn’t free, but it’s subsidised. I went there for the first time yesterday and wandered around in a daze. It’s huge – a massive, modern food court. Here’s a selection of the food on offer each day – soups, rotisserie, pie & mash bar, pizza, stromboli & calzone, pasta, carvery, quesadilla bar, jacket potatoes, street food, steaks & burgers, risotto bar, ramen bar, stir fry bar, dessert station.

A workmate told me she went in and had a look round, then had to come back to her desk and have a think before returning to get her lunch. It’s overwhelming!

Most of the selections are wasted on me, sadly. It just feels wrong to eat like that in the middle of the day.

I’ve seen staff with plates piled high with all manner of gravy-covered fare at 12pm. The preferred lunch of the guy who sits next to me is a whole chicken – previously a Tesco BBQ chicken but now he can get one in-house!

If I ate that sort of thing I’d be asleep by 2 o’clock. Luckily, as the place is Japanese they also make sushi onsite each day. Now THAT is a proper lunch!



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