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A meal is an instance of eating, specifically one that takes place at a specific time and includes specific, prepared food.

Meals are served at home, restaurants, and cafeteria. Meals are usually held in conjunction with such special occasions as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

A picnic is an outdoor meal where one brings one's food, such as a sandwich or a prepared meal in a picnic basket. It often takes place in a natural or recreative area, such as a park, forest, or beach. On long drives a picnic may take place at a road-side stop such as a rest area.

A banquet is a large, often formal, and elaborate meal with many guests.

Colleges and universites require their students to choose certain meal plan.


A multicourse meal

A modern multicourse meal will typically consist of several of the following meal courses, as well as suitable beverages to fit the course being served:

There may be drinks and snacks served both before and after the meal.

There may be served something to clean the palate between courses, such as a sorbet.

The order of the courses will likely vary depending on local custom.

Customs, tradition, and etiquette

Customs and traditions regarding eating and meals varies from country to county, as well as within countries, based on such factors as regional differences, social class, education, and religion. In a complex, multi-cultural society there is increased risk of different customs and traditions clashing. What is correct behaviour, and what is not, and in what circumstances is the provenance of etiquette.

Examples of different customs and traditions:

  • Food in some cultures is eaten from individual plates or bowls, while in other cultures people eat from a common one. Even where people tend to eat from individual plates, there may be exceptions, as in the case of some small pieces of food that can be held in the hand easily, such as cookies or some snack foods, where it is common to eat from a common plate, biscuit tin, or similar container.
  • Different cultures might have different rules for eating the same item. In the USA people eat sausages in a bun, or with a knife and fork, while in some countries in Europe sausages are held between the fingers while being eaten.
  • In some cultures, it is considered proper to wait until everyone is seated before starting to eat, while in other cultures it is not an issue.
  • In some cultures it is considered proper to wait for the host to give the command before guests sit at the table for a meal, while in other cultures there are different rules.

In some religions, people pray or read aloud from a religious text before and possibly also after eating. In diverse, religously mixed company where some people might want to pray, and others might not, it may be proper etiquette to allow for a short time of silence allowing those who want to do so, the chance to pray.

Daily meals

Standard meals eaten on a daily basis have different names depending on the time of day or the importance of the meal:

  • Breakfast is usually eaten within an hour or two after a person wakes up in the morning.
  • Lunch is a midday meal.
  • Brunch is a late-morning meal, usually larger than a breakfast and usually replacing both breakfast and lunch.
  • Tea is usually a midafternoon meal consisting of light fare with tea. In parts of the UK, Australia and New Zealand, tea may refer to the evening meal (dinner).
  • Dunch is a mid-afternoon meal, usually replacing both lunch and dinner as the main, or even only, meal of the day.
  • Supper is usually an evening meal.
  • Dinner can be at any time of the afternoon or evening and denotes the main meal of the day; sometimes it is at lunchtime and sometimes at suppertime.

See also

Meal is also coarsely ground grain or other seed, coarser than flour.

ca:pat de:Mahlzeit fr:Repas ja:食事 mg:Sakafo tokipona:moku fi:Ateria


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