Lunch feels like an academic paper, and it wasn’t until I treated it like one that I started to enjoy it. I also only dared to read this after a meal, or else my stomach would start growling from the numerous descriptions of food, food, and more food.
Lunch provides a history of lunch, from how the term began to be used to the diversity of lunch fare across the world. Elias has included further sections on how lunch is taken at home and away from home, as well as how lunch is portrayed in the arts and popular media.
This book felt very dry at the beginning, mostly because I wasn’t used to seeing so many references and quotes in a book. But once I accepted it for what it was (a research paper disguised as a book), I enjoyed it a lot more. Because I’ve read some extremely boring papers, so this is like the funnest paper I’ve ever read in my life.
Elias really did her research, and I learned a lot from Lunch. Did you know that dinner used to be the midday meal? And then people got lazy and woke up later and later and pushed the meals back later and later, so they needed to add more meals in the morning and afternoon? I also learned about the cultural differences in lunch fare, and got a comprehensive look at food from Japan, Russia, France, and many other countries.
For me, this was a go-with-the-flow book because of how densely packed it was; don’t let the 180-page claim fool you! Elias moves from country to country and from topic to topic with ease, and I just nod my head and follow along. In an effort to organize the material there are also subsections aside from the five major sections, but I feel like these subsections didn’t really help. In the end it’s basically all about lunch, so everything just mushes into the food portion of my brain while my stomach grumbles angrily.
I did come across things I’ve discovered in the past, and it was interesting to see Never Seconds, a lunch blog, mentioned. (It has also grown a lot since the last time I visited!) I also liked the analyses of lunch in popular media such as The Breakfast Club, Sex in the City, Charles Dickens books, and the Wind in the Willows.
Overall, Lunch seems to be catered to people who are used to reading academic papers. It’s a very comprehensive account of how lunch is portrayed throughout history, and a truly torturous read for your stomach.