The Two-Hour Lunch

The Two-Hour Lunch

In the United States, lunch is often a hurried trip to the vending machine, or the company cafeteria, or from a sack lunch you bring from home.  Others make lunch a business appointment with a valued or prospective client. 

In Natal, Brazil, the culture for lunch is much different. Two-hour lunches are a way of life there.  Many stores close between noon and two.  Ironically, at lunchtime one day when I wanted to buy bread at a neighborhood bakery, the store was closed.  Even those businesses that depend on customers to buy their food close at what would be the busiest times at Panera or Subway. 

Brazilian noon meal in Dr. Carlan’s  home

I interviewed a successful dentist, Dr. Carlan, about the appointment schedule of the professional.  A dentist for 33 years, he told me that he closes his office from noon to 2:00 and then works until 8:00 p.m. each day.  When he was younger he would see patients even later than 8:00. 

Lunch is the large meal of the day for Brazilians, and the meal at night is food that is light; soup is very common for the evening meal. 

Our busiest times for reading appointments were what is the dinner hour for us in the United States:  6:00 to 8:00 p.m. 

Conducting business for Americans in Natal would require adjustments in our eating habits.  I have always had trouble keeping mentally alert after lunch.  You can imagine what challenges I have with the two-hour main mealtime of the day. 

The Brazilian approach to lunch would give more credence to Adele Davis’s words, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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