Ah, lunch. This midday meal serves as the perfect hour-long break from office monotony, or sometimes as a prelude to a much-needed nap. In some countries it’s eaten quickly and on the go, and in others it’s a sit-down affair that can span multiple courses. However you eat it, you gotta love lunch.
So for the entire month of March, we will be publishing an exclusive online package themed entirely around the idea of “lunch.” We’ll examine midday meals across the globe, from urojo soup in Zanzibar and cholent in Tel Aviv, to Hawaiian plate lunch and Pittsburgh’s famous steel mill sandwich. We’ll feature lunch in art history, the rapidly evolving politics of school lunches, round-ups of lunch recipes, lunch boxes, and iconic moments in lunch cinema—and an interactive map of the country’s most popular delivery foods.
So follow along this month as we show you lunch around the world, and tag your lunch photos with #showsaveuryourlunch!
Lunch From Around The World
The United States of Delivery
An illustrated guide to America’s favorite lunch delivery dishes
By: Alex Testere
Americans love to work through lunch. It’s a simple fact of capitalist life, and that often means enlisting some help to make sure we don’t tweak out from drinking too much coffee and not having eaten anything except a granola bar. According to Grubhub, an average 392,500 delivery orders are placed through their site every day. That’s over 140 million orders every year. And that doesn’t even include those from your local old-school pizza joint that you actually have to call on the phone.
So we asked Grubhub, the most popular delivery service in the U.S., what their most popular lunch orders were on any given day in a handful of America’s biggest cities. The answers were … surprising.
Here in New York, lunch delivery means having the entire city’s collective population of small restaurant owners at your fingertips. Largely the domain of immigrants from around the world, it’s as if every global cuisine is represented within one delivery radius. You name it and it’s here, not to mention the myriad chopped salad spots and cold-pressed juiceries willing to put your food in a smiley-face bag and send it on its way.
So as I slurped a bowl of pho, delivered from a Vietnamese restaurant a mile-and-a-half uptown, I wondered: What fascinating results will this study reveal? What microcosms of the immigrant experience will surface in this examination of America’s great cities?
Turns out, it wasn’t as obvious as I’d imagined. Despite the number of small restaurants and franchises offering a variety of global dishes, Americans mostly just want sandwiches for lunch. Sometimes egg salad, sometimes tuna salad (perhaps the sole area of common ground between New Yorkers and Angelenos?), and jeez, guys, so much chicken salad. All hail chicken salad, Queen of America. Some findings were peculiar: Seattle’s very into their Quizno’s broccoli and cheddar soup. Houston is team fruit salad (what?). Nashville, a land-locked city 500 miles from the nearest ocean, orders salmon and avocado sushi 286% more than any other dish throughout the city.
Here you’ll see them all illustrated, with specific details on each dish in each city, so you can figure out exactly where those Austin locals get their delivery enchiladas.