Fill Up On “Elevenses” And 6 Other Terms For Snack Time Around The World

Sometimes breakfast just doesn’t cut it. Whether you’re on a long journey and had an early start or you’ve already put in some manual labor after breakfast, a mid-morning snack is a refreshing and fulfilling break before the formal lunch hour. In England, it’s called elevenses, as in a small meal you eat around 11 am, though even fictional characters know the joy of a meal between breakfast and lunch. Merry and Pippin in the Lord of the Rings series, for example, are avid fans of the second breakfast.

England and Middle Earth aren’t the only places you’ll find this tradition, however. These countries also partake, each with a different name.

almuerzo (Spain)

The word for lunch in Spanish is almuerzo, but in certain parts of Spain, you’ll find that almuerzo is less about a middle-of-the-day meal and more about a second breakfast. For breakfast (desayuno), Spaniards often eat something small and light with a coffee or juice. That leaves room for a mid-morning almuerzo around 10 or 11 am. A type of muffin called a magdalena is common, as is pan con tomate (bread and tomato), ham, a small sandwich, or some tortilla de patatas (similar to an egg and potato quiche). The small meal is often eaten at a cafe, and coffee or espresso is often present as well. Just don’t fill up too much because the famously long Spanish lunch comes shortly after, around 2 pm.

The Spanish tradition spread where the country historically had colonies as well, though it’s shifted slightly. In Chile, for example, once (or onces), which means 11 in Spanish, is no longer a meal eaten between breakfast and lunch but is instead eaten between lunch and dinner.


Careful what you order when abroad! Find out which foods have less-than-appealing meanings in other countries.

hamaiketako (Basque)

Elevenses goes by a different name in the Basque region of northern Spain. Hamaiketako (which means 11 am) is the word for a small savory snack between a breakfast of sweets and a larger lunch. Sausages and other meats are on the menu, as well as cheese and eggs.

Hamaiketako is the same as English elevenses, but it wasn’t always so in the Basque region. Rural areas used to have hamarretako (10 am). The shift to an hour later came after the rise of cities and factories.

drugie śniadanie (Poland)

A hobbit would not go asking for follow-up morning meals in Poland, because a second breakfast is already included (though they may be on their own for third breakfast). Drugie śniadanie is the Polish word for elevenses, where drugie means the “second” and śniadanie means “breakfast.” It’s eaten at some point between 10 and 11 am and typically consists of bread, kiełbasa sausage, eggs, or sandwiches. Unlike in Spain, drugie śniadanie is often eaten on the go, so the portability of the food is paramount.

tízórai (Hungary)

Tízórai is similar to elevenses in that it’s a meal between breakfast and lunch that gets its name from the time that it’s eaten. Only tízórai means 10 am, not 11 am (though the exact time a person eats is up to them, of course). The meal is usually small and isn’t typically a hot meal—that’s reserved for a sprawling lunch.


From salty to sweet, many of the words we use to describe food have since become apt descriptors of our personality traits. Take a look at some here.

merienda (Philippines)

When Spain colonized the Philippines, they left behind one of their eating habits, but not the name (almuerzo) it goes by. In the Philippines, it’s called merienda, which is often used to describe an afternoon snack in Spanish-speaking countries but refers to any meal outside of the big three in Filipino culture and language. The first merienda usually happens around 10 am, with the second between 3 and 5 pm. There’s not a strict list of what’s on the menu. Sometimes it’s sweet, other times savory. Leftovers are common. Whatever the merienda of choice, it’s tasty.

yum cha (Hong Kong)

The tradition of yum cha in Hong Kong dates back to the 1800s, during the time period of the Xianfeng Emperor. Yum cha, typically a brunch meal, translates from Cantonese as  “drink tea.” The beverage isn’t the only thing consumed, though. Dim sum (bite-sized sweet and savory dishes) are passed along as well, and yum cha can refer to the act of eating dim sum and drinking tea. It’s not only a tradition in Hong Kong. Yum cha and the type of cuisine served originally comes from Guangdong province and is popular in Cantonese-speaking regions. Wherever you’re partaking, expect it to be a sit-down meal where the people around you are just as important as the food.

Now that you know second breakfast isn’t limited to Middle Earth, dig into our meal-related quiz to see how well you know these mid-morning eating traditions from around the world.


Hungry for more? Check out this sumptuous list of food toponyms, or foods named after their place of origin.

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