CCU: Daily meals in USA and Europe


By: Havid Ardi

A. Introduction

Culture includes sociofact, mentifact, and artifact. Food and food habits can be said are two of artifact of certain society. Differences in food and food habits sometimes cause misunderstanding or misperception in certain occasion that related to food, e.g. party, dinner party, cookout, etc.

Related to food habits, American and Europe culture are very different from Indonesia. Food for daily life and some cultural food for certain celebration vary based on the situation. For daily life, American and Europe seldom eat hot food (cooked meals), while Indonesian does not. American and Europe are very careful in consuming hot food. Mostly, they eat bread as the breakfast in the morning, or potatoes in the night. Food habits include food shopping, eating problems (e.g chewing), eating environment (company at meal times), food patterns (cooked meals versus snacks, food distribution), religious practices, eating/cooking practices (adding salt) and food avoidance.

B. Daily Meals

It is hard question to be answered about name and time of Westerners to have their meals. Even, people in the same society have different time and name of our meals. Some of us have dinner at eight, while others have supper at five. It wasn’t always that way.

The names of meals and their general times were once quite standard. Everyone in medieval England knew that we eat breakfast first thing in the morning, dinner in the middle of the day, and supper not long before you went to bed, around sundown. The modern confusion arose from changing social customs and classes, political and economic developments, and even from technological innovations.

1. Breakfast

Breakfast is considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting period. American and Europe have various kind and term related to breakfast, for example: full breakfast, tea breakfast, bed-and-breakfasts (B&Bs).

A full breakfast might include more options such as cereal, porridge, kippers (smoked fish), toast and jam or marmalade, kedgeree, and devilled kidneys. Fruit juice and dry cereal were added to the breakfast after 1950.  The term “full breakfast” is used to differentiate it from the simpler continental breakfast of tea, coffee and fruit juices with croissants or pastries. In Britain, the “full breakfast” is called a “full English breakfast” and often shortened to “a full English”. Around Europe this type of breakfast is often termed as “an English breakfast” to distinguish it from a “continental breakfast”. A full English breakfast usually consists of bacon, sausages, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, sausage and fried bread. While, the traditional ones are bacon, eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast, and sausages, usually served with a mug of tea.

A full North American breakfast consists of streaky bacon, eggs, hash browns, and toast. It is more often referred to as a “country breakfast” in many areas of the Midwest. The terms “fry” and “full breakfast” are not generally used in North America. While, in the Southern United States the meal is typically known as a “big breakfast” or “Sunday breakfast” and usually consists of eggs, bacon, grits, toast and sausage, ham or steak, and sometimes pancakes or biscuits, served with coffee.

Breakfast in Central America includes ham, sausage, bacon and eggs, much like a full breakfast elsewhere. A distinguishing feature is that fry jacks are also eaten. Fry jacks are fried pieces of dough, similar to beignets or sopapillas. Can also include items like toast, pancakes, or hashbrowns. Fresh orange juice is often added as a drink.

In B&Bs it’s preceded by cereals, served with tea or coffee, and followed by toast, butter, jam and marmalade. In northern Britain you might be served with black pudding – a mixture of meat, blood and fat, served in slices. If you don’t like eating half a farmyard, it’s quite okay to ask for just the egg and tomatoes. In Scotland you might get oatcakes instead of fried bread.

English Breakfast tea is a black tea blend usually described as full-bodied, robust, and/or rich, and blended to go well with milk and sugar, in a style traditionally associated with a hearty English breakfast. It is the most common style of tea in Britain. The black teas included in the blend vary, with Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas predominating, and Keemun sometimes included in more expensive blends. Drinking a blend of black teas for breakfast is indeed a longstanding British custom. The practice of referring to such a blend as “English breakfast tea” appears to have originated not in England but America, as far back as Colonial times.

Sometimes, Western people also skip breakfast due to: not enough time, too tired to bother, wanting to spend the extra time dozing in bed, no readily available breakfast foods in the house. Therefore, they tend to nibble on snacks during the mid-morning. This is usually called mid morning snacks.

2. The midday Meals: Luncheon (Lunch)

Luncheon, commonly abbreviated to lunch, is a midday meal. In English-speaking countries during the eighteenth century what was originally called “dinner”— a word still sometimes used to mean a noontime meal in the UK, and in parts of Canada and the United States — was moved by stages later in the day and came in the course of the nineteenth century to be eaten at night, replacing the light meal called supper, which was delayed by the upper class to midnight.

In some places, one eats similar things both at lunch and at supper – a hot meal, sometimes with more than one course. In other places, lunch is the main meal of the day, supper being a smaller cold meal. Many people eat lunch while at work or school. Employers and schools usually provide a lunch break in the middle of the day, lasting as much as an hour. Some workplaces and schools provide cafeterias/canteens, where one can get a hot meal (in British schools female staff who serve lunch are often known as “dinner ladies”). In some work locations one can easily go out to eat at a nearby restaurant. Where these conveniences are not available it may be impractical to make lunch the main meal of the day.

A similar tradition exists in Britain, where schoolchildren and workers bring in a prepared lunch in a lunchbox. This will usually contain, at the least, a sandwich, a bag of crisps and a drink, possibly with a chocolate bar and some fruit. However, this is now changing in the workplace due to the ubiquity of small cafés in cities as well as the microwave. It remains common in schools and among builders where such facilities do not exist on-site. While in Australian primary and high schools, most children bring a lunch box that contains a morning snack for recess (usually fruit or a muesli bar) and a sandwich for lunch.

On weekends in the United States it is popular to combine a late breakfast with lunch, called a “brunch”. Brunches often feature more elaborate fare than ordinary breakfasts, and may include desserts and alcoholic beverages, such as mimosas, which are not ordinarily served with breakfast.

Related to time, in French the midday meal (déjeuner) taken between noon and 2 p.m. It is the main meal in the South of France. The evening meal is the main meal of the day in Northern France but lighter in Southern France, taken around 6 – 7 p.m. (North) or 8 (South), is called dîner or souper (though the last one is used too to call a night-time meal, usually after 11 p.m.).

In Canadian French lunch is known as dîner. The Anglicism lunch means an invitational light meal usually eaten while standing and not necessarily around noon. It is offered for example in vernissages. In Lithuanian it is pietūs and is the main meal of the day. The word lunch is translated as priešpiečiai (meaning pre-dinner) and would be brunch. In Welsh it is tocyn but this also means snack. “Cinio” can also be used to describe lunch; however “cinio” can also be used to describe the evening meal alongside with supper.

The mid-day meal on Sunday and the festival meals on Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving (in the U.S. and Canada) are still often eaten at the old hours, usually either at noon or between two and four in the afternoon, and called dinner. Traditional farming communities also may still commonly have the largest meal of the day at mid-day and refer to this meal as “dinner.

3. Supper

Supper is the name for the evening meal in some dialects of English – ordinarily the last meal of the day. The term is derived from the French souper, which is still used for this meal in Canadian French, Swiss French and sometimes in Belgian French. It is related to soup. It is also related to the German word for soup, Suppe.

In Britain, whereas “dinner”, when used for the evening meal, is fairly formal, “supper” is used to describe a less formal, simpler family meal, but also the fairly formal variety in others. In working class British homes, as in Australia and Ireland, “tea” can be used for the evening meal. In the United Kingdom, supper is a term for a snack eaten after the evening meal and before bed, usually consisting of a warm, milky drink and British biscuits or cereal. In the United Kingdom, particularly in Scots, Scottish English and Ulster Scots, a fish supper is a portion of fish and chips. The word is used also as a modifier in this way for a range of other similar meals, such as a “sausage supper”, “pastie supper”, “haggis supper” and indicates the addition of chips.

In Australian English, supper may refer to a late light dessert or snack (such as toast and cereal) had some time after dinner. In New Zealand it is similar – generally cake and tea/coffee served later in the evening, particularly when people have visitors. While, in most of the United States and Canada, “supper” and “dinner” are considered synonyms. In some areas either term may be rarely used. It is typically served between 6pm and 8pm, although in the rural American South serving between three and five o’clock is common. In the South, the term “dinner” can also be used to describe the meal at around 11am, while supper is used to denote the evening meal. In rural areas of the Upper Midwest dinner is a larger noon-time meal, and supper is a lighter evening meal and similar to eating customs in northern Europe where most of the inhabitants originate from. Supper is the last of three to five daily meals: breakfast, (morning lunch), dinner, (afternoon lunch or “coffee”) and supper. The main meal is between 11.30am and 1pm. Supper is usually lighter and often consists of bread with cold meat, cheese, soup, salads, fried potatoes, egg dishes and / or dairy products. The decline of typical Midwestern farm culture and urbanization of American language and habits has led to a change in Midwestern eating habits in the past thirty years. Supper is still usually considered lighter fare and a more casual setting, and may be served before a usual dinner time so that evening activities may be unaffected.

3. Dinner

Dinner is the name of the main meal of the day. Depending upon region and tradition, it may be the second or third meal of the day. A simple dinner typically consists of a meat, fish, poultry or other high-protein entrée, served with one or two vegetables and/or with grain or cereal product – especially bread, but potatoes, rice, pasta, and noodles are also common. Any or all of these components may be served with a hot or cold gravy or sauce.

In general, people in rural parts of America, Canada, and other Anglophone countries eat breakfast, dinner and supper. In these cases, dinner typically happens between midday and early afternoon. But whether town or country, wherever the dominant industry of an area involves hard labor (e.g., farming, mining, timber trade), midday dinner is an important feature because it divides the day’s labor in half and provides well-earned refreshment. Their evening meal is smaller than the midday meal and is commonly called ‘supper’. In Scotland and northern England, supper is almost invariably called ‘tea’ (specifically, “high tea” – which does not indicate high formality but indicates that some kind of meat, fish, etc., is being served).

People who live in cities and towns, and especially those who work in “white collar” positions, typically eat dinner in the evening. Their midday meal is called lunch (or luncheon) and is often a small and quick meal, although a business lunch can be large, heavy and protracted.

The word “dinner” comes from the French word dîner, the “main meal of the day”, from Old French disner. An individual dinner can also be a more sophisticated meal, such as a banquet or feast.

Cultural Differences

Mostly daily meals of Indonesian are heavy or main meals. These are very different compared to westerners who have only once main meals of the day. For example, breakfast for Westerners are not considered as main meals of the day, while in Indonesia, breakfast sometimes is considered a staple meal but others are not. Heavy food in the morning or like a main meals of the day is a common thing for Indonesian, therefore, sometime breakfast (sarapan) is also called makan pagi. The Indonesian people usually consume a different style of breakfast in the morning such as rice, fried rice, lontong/kupat, rice or noodles accompanied by coffee, tea, or milk, while juice is not common for Indonesian. Sometimes, it is shocking for Indonesia to have only a small number of foods (bread and milk) for breakfast. People in some cultures consume only two meals each day instead of three, and breakfast isn’t traditionally always one of them.


6 thoughts on “CCU: Daily meals in USA and Europe

  1. Nice site! I enjoy a few of the articles that have been written, and especially the comments posted! I will definately be returning!

    1. Terima kasih kunjungannya Da Riri.
      Makan parak siang biasanya disebut “Sahur” juga atau ditambah deskripsi sebagai “Islamic term refers to the meal eaten before fajr or daybreak by Muslim (in fasting month).
      Kalau nan paliang tapek yo mungkin Mak Ngah nan di California Da Riri.

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