Getting meal timings right in 'international' fiction.

Astro Pen

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Writing fiction set in varying world locations I have had to try and grasp authentic meal patterns of the world to avoid subconciously imposing working class British behaviour where it wouldn't make cultural sense.
My experience with everyday families, (as opposed to holiday hotels), is fairly limited. However it is important to get this right for lifestyle authenticity in ones stories.

Since we are a fairly cosmopolitan bunch here I would be interested for people to say how meals are normally timed and scaled where you live?

Where I grew up. Twangs bracers. It was Full Breakfast - Dinner (mid-day) - Tea and Supper
In London it was Breakfast - Lunch - Tea - Dinner (evening) and sometimes Supper.
In North America (on business) it was 'talky' Brunch - Dinner interspersed with copious amounts of coffee. Supper generally didn't seem to happen, just a late night snack.
Europe seemed to be a token croissant and coffee for breakfast, with variable main meal lengths (hours long in France and Spain) Southern Spain running well into late night.
 

alexvss

Me doesn't knows no grammar.
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Northeast Brazil
I love studying cultural differences! I like to see how these customs vary. In my country, lunch is very important. I just can't fathom eating a hot dog for lunch, like they do in NY. Also, when a Brazilian travels to the UK, the breakfast schocks them, for there is a lot of food.

Now, my contribution:

In Brazil we have breakfast - Lunch (midday) - Dinner (evening), an sometimes supper.
Breakfast and dinner tend to be family reunions (nuclear family). We don't eat much during these meals. Breakfast is mostly bread and butter, cofee and milk. Dinner is, for a lot of people, "the rest of the lunch". Common dinner meals can also be cuzcuz, tapioca, or bread and butter (yes, again).
During lunch you eat with your co-workers, if you're in that age. There are a lot of cheap restaurants for workers (or proles, the way you say this side of the pond), they are often self-service and you use a tray. If you're, say, a student returning home for lunch, you eat the meal made by your maid (yes, maids are extremely common in Latin America). This is the most important meal, and we eat a lot. Although there can be various combinations, the course will always have rice and beans. It goes strictly from 12:00 to 14:00.
Supper is not a thing, only people who workout tend to eat it.
Also, tea is not a thing at all.
 

Wayne Mack

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In North America, the more common sequence would be Breakfast, sometimes skipped or replaced with a cup of coffee; mid-morning Coffee Break in business environments; Lunch: sometimes skipped in office; Dinner/Supper: synonymous terms. Dinner is usually eaten much earlier than in European countries.

Differences are also significant in what is eaten and style. To generalize, in North America, there are very specific breakfast foods. In Asia, breakfast foods are usually the same as other meals. Asian meals often tend towards communal eating with a central dish or dishes that each person at the table shares. In North America, each person is often served separately.

Alcohol consumption with meals is another variation to explore. In the US, lunch is completely dry; sans alcohol. In the evenings, more cosmopolitan areas may have wine with dinner, while other areas may just have water.

Does this sort of address what you are looking for?
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
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In North America, the more common sequence would be Breakfast, sometimes skipped or replaced with a cup of coffee; mid-morning Coffee Break in business environments; Lunch: sometimes skipped in office; Dinner/Supper: synonymous terms. Dinner is usually eaten much earlier than in European countries.

I've been living in the US for the past 7 years, and yes, lunch for office workers if often eaten at desk, while for school kids it's either a packed lunch or meal bought at the school cafeteria. Dinner is early (by my standards — I grew up in Brazil): between 5-6pm, maybe latest 6.30. We eat dinner at Brazilian time (around 7.30 or 8pm) and my kids' friends think it's weird...
 

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