British people - and many others throughout the world - have been lugged up top top the idea of three square meals a day together a common eating pattern, however it wasn't always that way.

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People are consistently told the hallowed household dinner around a table is in decline and the UK is not the only country experiencing such change.

The case for breakfast, missed by countless with deleterious effects, is the it makes us much more alert, helps save us trim and improves children's work and behaviour in ~ school.

But when people worry the breaking with the classic three meals a work is harmful, are they right about the classic part? have actually people always eaten in that pattern?


Breakfast together we recognize it didn't exist for big parts the history. The Romans didn't yes, really eat it, normally consuming just one meal a day around noon, claims food chronicler Caroline Yeldham. In fact, breakfast was proactively frowned upon.

"The Romans thought it was healthy to eat only one enjoy the meal a day," she says. "They to be obsessed with digestion and also eating much more than one enjoy the meal was considered a form of gluttony. This thinking influenced on the way people ate for a an extremely long time."

In the Middle periods monastic life mainly shaped when people ate, states food chronicler Ivan Day. Nothing might be eaten prior to morning Mass and meat can only be consumed for fifty percent the job of the year. It's thought words breakfast gotten in the English language throughout this time and also literally intended "break the night's fast".

Religious ritual likewise gave us the full English breakfast. On Collop Monday, the day before Shrove Tuesday, civilization had to use up meat prior to the start of Lent. Much of the meat to be pork and also bacon together pigs were retained by numerous people. The meat was often consumed with eggs, which also had come be supplied up, and the precursor that the complete English breakfast to be born.

In around the 17th Century it is believed that every social classes started eating breakfast, according to chef Clarissa Dickson Wright. After the repair of Charles II, coffee, tea and also dishes like scrambled eggs began to show up on the tables the the wealthy. Through the late 1740s, breakfast rooms likewise started showing up in the homes of the rich.

This morning enjoy the meal reached brand-new levels that decadence in aristocratic one in the 19th Century, through the fashion for hunting parties that lasted days, also weeks. Approximately 24 dishes would certainly be served for breakfast.

The Industrial revolution in the mid-19th Century regularised working hours, with labourers needing an early meal come sustain them in ~ work. Every classes began to eat a meal before going to work, also the bosses.

At the revolve of the 20th Century, breakfast was revolutionised as soon as again by American man Harvey Kellogg. The accidentally left some boiled maize out and also it went stale. The passed it through some rollers and baked it, developing the world's very first cornflake. He sparked a multi-billion pound industry.

By the 1920s and 1930s the government was promoting breakfast together the most essential meal the the day, but then world War II make the normal breakfast fare tough to get. But as Britain emerged from the post-war years right into the economically liberated 1950s, things prefer American toasters, sliced bread, prompt coffee and pre-sugared cereals got into the home. Breakfast as we now know it.


The terminology around eating in the UK is quiet confusing. For some "lunch" is "dinner" and vice versa. From the roman times come the Middle eras everyone ate in the middle of the day, however it was dubbed dinner and also was the main meal the the day. Lunch together we know it didn't exist - not also the word.

During the Middle ages daylight shaped mealtimes, claims Day. Through no electricity, people got up previously to manipulate daylight. Employees had frequently toiled in the fields from daybreak, so by midday they to be hungry.

"The totality day to be structured in different ways than the is today," says Day. "People gained up much earlier and went come bed lot earlier."

By midday employees had regularly worked for up to six hours. They would certainly take a rapid break and eat what was well-known as a "beever" or "noonshine", typically bread and also cheese. As artificial light developed, dinner began to transition later in the day for the wealthier, as a result a light meal during the day was needed.

The origins of the word "lunch" space mysterious and complicated, states Day. "Lunch was a an extremely rare word up till the 19th Century," the says.

One concept is the it's acquired from the word "nuncheon", one old Anglo-Saxon indigenous which expected a quick snack in between meals the you can hold in your hands. It to be used around the so late 17th Century, states Yeldham. Rather theorise that it comes from the indigenous "nuch" which to be used approximately in the 16th and 17th Century and means a huge piece the bread.

But it's the French custom of "souper" in the 17th Century that helped shaped what most of united state eat for lunch today. It came to be fashionable amongst the brothers aristocracy come copy the French and eat a light meal in the evening. It was a an ext private meal while they gamed and womanised, says Day.

It's the Earl of Sandwich's famed late-night snack native the 1750s the has concerned dominate the contemporary lunchtime menu. One night he ordered his valet to carry him cold meats between some bread. He might eat the snack with just one hand and wouldn't obtain grease ~ above anything.

Whether he was wrapped increase in one all-night card video game or functioning at his workdesk is not clear, both have been suggested. But whatever he to be doing, the sandwich to be born.

At the moment lunch, however, was still recognized "as an accidental happening in between meals", claims food chronicler Monica Askay.

Again, it to be the Industrial transformation that assisted shape lunch together we recognize it today. Middle and lower course eating fads were characterized by functioning hours. Many were functioning long hours in factories and also to sustain lock a noon-time enjoy the meal was essential.

Pies were offered on stalls exterior factories. People additionally started to count on mass-produced food together there was no room in towns and cities because that gardens to save a pig pen or grow their own food. Plenty of didn't also have a kitchen.

The ritual of taking lunch ended up being ingrained in the everyday routine. In the 19th Century chop residences opened in cities and office workers were provided one hour for lunch. Yet as war damaged out in 1939 and rationing take it hold, the lunch was required to evolve. Work-based canteens became the most economical means to feed the masses. It was this model that was adopted by institutions after the war.

The 1950s carried a post-War human being of cafes and also luncheon vouchers. The Chorleywood Process, a new method of creating bread, also meant the straightforward loaf could be produced an ext cheaply and quickly than ever. The takeaway sandwich quickly started to to fill the niche as a fast, cheap lunch choice.

Today the average time required to eat lunch - generally in front of the computer system - is roughly 15 minutes, follow to researchers at the university of Westminster. The original definition of lunch or "nuncheon" as a small, fast snack between suitable meals is just as apt currently as it ever before was.


In the UK the heyday of dinner remained in the middle Ages. That was well-known as "cena", Latin for dinner. The aristocracy ate formal, outrageously lavish dinners about noon. In spite of their reputation for being unruly affairs, they were actually very sophisticated, with strict table manners.

They were an ostentatious display of wealth and also power, with cooks functioning in the kitchen indigenous dawn to get things ready, claims Yeldham. With no electricity food preparation dinner in the night was not an option. Peasants ate dinner about midday too, return it to be a much more modest affair.

As man-made lighting spread, dinner began to be consumed later and also later in the day. It was in the 17th Century that the working lunch started, where guys with aspirations would certainly network.

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The middle and lower great eating patterns were also defined by their functioning hours. By the so late 18th Century most civilization were eating 3 meals a job in towns and also cities, claims Day.

By the early on 19th Century dinner for most world had been pushed into the evenings, after work when lock returned home for a complete meal. Numerous people, however, preserved the traditional "dinner hour" on a Sunday.

The hallowed household dinner we space so acquainted with became easily accessible to every in the glorious consumer spending main actor of the 1950s. New white goods arrived indigenous America and the dream that the wife at residence baking ended up being a reality. Then the TV arrived.

TV chef Fanny Cradock carried the 1970s Cordon smoke dinner come life. Numerous middle-class women were boring at home and found self-expression by contending with each other over who could hold the ideal dinner party.

The death knell because that the family dinner supposedly sound in 1986, when the first microwave meal came on to the market. However while a formal household dinner may be consumed by fewer world nowadays, the dinner party definitely isn't end - sustained by the phenomenal sales the recipe publications by celebrity chefs.

The last illustration of Breakfast, Lunch and also Dinner through Clarissa Dickson wright is broadcast on 4 on Wednesday, 21 November in ~ 21:00 GMT. You have the right to watch illustration via iPlayer.