Updated: Mar 6, 2019
Eating is a fundamental part of everyone's day, wherever we are, but the times we eat are not the same and show great cultural variation
At the end of a busy day, every culture wants feeding and most look forward to sitting down and enjoying a tasty fave meal. However, it's interesting to note that different countries can have widely different views on when is best to eat. If you're running a restaurant and have international customers, or a businessman planning some international travel, maybe it is interesting to know when to expect things to hot up in popular destinations. Here's a quick guide for usual dinner times in 12 frequently-visited countries around the world.
Dinner in Norway? Get ready early.
Probably the fastest dinner time eaters are the Norweigans, who prefer to get their eating done relatively early in the evening. In fact, the normal time for middag, a Norwegian supper of hearty dishes like stews and mutton casseroles, is a very early time of 4pm to 5pm, when many other countries are just over lunch!
Aussies like to play, so eat early and then enjoy the evening.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "dinner at dusk" is becoming an increasingly popular trend among Australians, particularly those with kids. Reservation website Dimmi reported a 35% uptick in Australian dinner reservations between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. in 2016, and many Aussies who choose to eat early said that their desire for family time after dinner prompted these choices.
The Chinese usually eat as a family and get together between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
In China, the working day usually ends in time to get home around 6 p.m., which marks the beginning of the dinnertime hour. On average, the Chinese eat their largest meal of the day between 6.30pm to 7.30pm.
"La comida," is the major meal in Mexican culture, eaten mid afternoon.
Many countries have switched the main meal time from afternoon to evening, but in Mexico, the biggest meal of the day comes mid-afternoon in the form of la comida, a multi-course spread including sopa (soup) or ensalada (salad), guisado (an entree), and postre (dessert). Because the major dining period happens during midday, evening eating is'nt a thing in Mexico. They top up their day with a small bite between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., known as "la cena." This can consist of a hot drink and bread, a street taco, or any other snack item meant to stave off nighttime munchies.
And the late night winner is Spain, who eat from 9pm to whenever!
A fact so well-known that it's become a bit of a cliche, the Spanish like to take their dinners later than the rest of the world. Spaniards eat dinner at 9 p.m. at the earliest, but it's very common to start the evening meal as late as 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. According to the BBC, this cultural hallmark may be due to confusion around Spain's time zone, dating back to World War II. .
Of course, as always with any generalisation, there's exceptions to the rule, and people have their own eating and work schedules, so not everyone will fall into these patterns. These are just norms.