In Praise of

The Long Luncheon

Time was when luncheon was a long, leisurely and social affair, a cavalcade of courses, designed to help meander gently from morning to afternoon in the most civilised of fashions. After such a dietary dawdle and suitably gastronomically refreshed, the work of the rest of the day passed in a pleasant haze until the sun went down over some yard-arm or other and it was time for a cocktail before dinner.


Then some bright spark – someone presumably with a diploma in that most wretched of all disciplines, ‘time management’ – thought to abbreviate not only the word but also the very idea of the midday meal.  Sadly, ‘lunch’, is now almost vulgar in its brevity, synonymous with little more than sandwiches sealed in cellophane to be enjoyed – if enjoyed is the right word – at the insalubrious confines of an office desk. To quote Algernon in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ – ‘I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.’

Balans Soho Society is horrified by this noontide denial of pleasure for the cause of so-called productivity. It goes against everything for which we stand. A long lunch is a way of playing truant from the normal burdens of life and celebrating conviviality for the simple reason that, despite the hurly burly of the everyday, we still can.

One of our great heroes, the playwright, Keith Waterhouse was very particular about what lunch is not. We think we can all stand by his words:

‘Lunch is not prawn cocktail and Black Forest gateau with your bank manager. It is not civic, commemorative, annual office or funeral. It is not when either party is on a diet, on the wagon or in a hurry’.

So abandon your plans for the rest of the day, treat yourself, order another bottle of wine, luncheon is served.

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