The taste of the world

Food bowl or canteen?

Meals at work stories and tales

Meals on the train for work Sonia Ezgulian style.

© Sonia Ezgulyan

By: Clémence Denavit Follow

3 mins

Sandwich, canteen or bowl?

Meal breaks at work are far from being as superfluous as they seem: what could be more necessary than eating out for workers?

Since the middle of the 19th century, the meal at work has been organized, structured, and constantly evolving: the house is no longer close enough for us to be able to take refuge there for lunch, the meal the opposite way and it is in the bowl that it is taken, to be eaten next to its work tool, or in a refectory, then in the canteen, or a simple sandwich break in front of its computer.


Who eats what, where and with whom?

How was food at work designed and by whom?

How was it structured and according to what?

What do these snack breaks say about us and our relationship to others?

Is the meal break the place and the moment when the worker makes society, the commensality for cement?


Nicolas Hatzfeld

, historian, professor at the University of Evry, the article referred to during the program is entitled: “the snack break, when the chains stop at Peugeot Sochaux”.

Nicolas Hatzfeld recently published:

The Bonneff brothers, labor reporters.

Articles published in L'Humanité from 1908 to 1914

, Paris, Classiques Garnier editions, 2021.

Eliane Le Port

is a doctor in History, a researcher at IDHSS-Evry, she analyzes the figure of the worker writer, her work is a major contribution to social history and literary history.

His latest book " 

Writing your life, becoming an author: worker testimony since 1945

 " published by EHESS.

Anne Lhuissier,

sociologist at INRAE, food, work, and more recently food, precariousness and health are her fields of research.

She is the author of numerous articles and books, notably recently: “ 

Popular food and social reform

 ” or “ 

When canteens sit at the table, commensality and social identity

 ” published by Quae.

For further

- “ 

The bowl or the canteen?

Forms and issues of restoration in the written testimonies of workers since 1945

 ", Le mouvement social vol.2 n°247, 2014

- " 

Food at work since the middle of the 19th century

 " by Stéphane Gacon, Le mouvement social, n°247


Sociology of food

by Anne Lhuissier, Faustine Regnier and Séverine Gojard, La Découverte editions

- The bowl and the tool.

Eating at Work in France and Europe from the Late 18th Century to the Present

, edited by Thomas Bouchet, Stéphane Gacon, François Jarrige, François-Xavier Nérard and Xavier Vigna



Blue Tree Editions, 2016.


Charlie Chaplin's

Modern Times (1936)

- Annie Hubert "Transcultural Destinies"

- Sonia Ezgulian, the queen of frichtis traveling for work, all as beautiful as they are clever and good,

take a look here

 (Facebook) and



- Le Goût du monde: In the canteen, in the bistro, in the restaurant, our ways of eating on the grill: 

In the canteen, in the bistro, in the restaurant, to take away, in the street or with the family, our ways of eating on the grill - The taste of the world (

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from MC Solaar



by Femi Kuti


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  • Food

  • Gastronomy

  • Employment and Labor

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