The term plate lunch has different meanings from one culture and location to another, although, there are some very specific examples of what people expect when they refer to a plate lunch. The origins for describing this meal are thought to originate from Hawaii. This is locally known as pa mea ‘ai, and plate lunches in this setting typically refer to three components. For example, in Hawaii, a plate lunch consists of white rice, a helping of macaroni salad and then some type of baked or broiled meat entrée completes the lunch.
This specific kind of plate lunch is generally known as a syncretic menu. This means that it contains elements from more than one geographical region or culture. In many places, rice is considered a staple. Rice gives the plate lunch a bit of pan-Asian flair. Pasta or macaroni salad is a world-wide favorite and the meat choices can range from ham, ground beef, lamb or chicken.
A plate lunch allows us to draw on a delicious cross section of favorites from around the globe.
In the southern portion of the USA, the plate lunch is often made with an arrangement of three vegetables and a meat entrée. The Southern culture dictates that a proper plate lunch will never have more than one starch per meal and will have at least one green vegetable. Those who are in the South and choose to honor tradition may choose a potato or rice but never both at the same time and choose a green vegetable.
In the Midwestern USA, a plate lunch is similar to the Southern version but it does not have any restrictions on the vegetable choices. Therefore, a proper Midwestern plate lunch could easily be made up of macaroni, rice, potatoes and a meat. Typically, in Midwestern restaurants, there is often a variety of starches to be found.
Plate lunches are often impacted by dietary preferences and local customs. The California plate lunch for example, may consist of a vegetarian delight that includes an entrée which is either soy-based or made with tofu, marinated legumes and a raw garden salad.
In many restaurants, the plate lunch is a favorite choice since it allows the kitchen to prepare larger amounts of specific foods which can be easily dished up quickly once patrons place an order. A plate lunch is a great choice for the hungry customer since it provides the ability for quick and delicious choices that will result in a yummy meal for a reasonable price.