A meal is an instance of eating, specifically one that takes place at a specific time and includes specific, prepared food. Meals occur primarily at homes, restaurants, and cafeterias, but may occur in many other places. Regular meals occur on a daily basis, typically several times a day. Special meals are usually held in conjunction with such occasions as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and holidays. Common meals are breakfast, elevenses, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, supper, and dessert.

A meal is different from a snack in that meals are larger and more filling, while snacks are more likely to be small, high-calorie affairs; however, any food eaten in small amounts at an unscheduled time can be classified as a snack.

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 recreation 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 universities require their students to choose certain meal plan. 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, traditions, and etiquette

Customs and traditions regarding eating and meals varies from country to country, 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, religiously 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.

Answer the questions.

What is a meal? Where do meals occur? What is the difference between regular meals and special meals? What are common meals of the day? What is a snack? Is it different from a meal? What is a picnic? Where can a picnic take place? What is a banquet? What is a multicourse meal? What does a multicourse meal consist of? What can you say about customs, traditions and etiquette of eating in different countries and cultures in general? What are the increased risks of multicultural societies? When do people eat from individual places and when from common ones? What is the difference in etiquette between eating sausage in Europe and in the USA? What are some examples of proper etiquette at the table? Give more examples from your own experience.


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