Whatever your memories of high school, your lunches may stick out like a sore thumb — for better or for worse. Whether your school served up "prison food" or heavenly junk food at the cafeteria, lunchtime was a time to gather with friends to gossip and wreak havoc over a plate of fries and shared ketchup, or if you were so unfortunate, it was a time to be forced into giving your lunch over to the class bully.
School lunches are a popular topic among state and national education and health boards in the United States, with schools often criticized for providing an imbalanced meal, and parents and the public continually promised changes to come. But despite the best efforts of people like British chef Jamie Oliver to highlight just how improperly fed students are and to attempt to change the system, most students in the U.S. are still living off unhealthy food that's somehow passed off as healthy, including shocking examples of fries and ketchup being considered as a daily serving of "vegetables."
However, school students in many nations around the world don’t suffer from the same issues. Gone are the mac and cheese, creamy butter biscuits, pizza slices, chicken nuggets, and soda. Instead they're replaced by dishes like grilled fish (Japan), pickled kimchi (Korea), and green pea soup (Finland), all delicious enough to entice kids to eat.
But it’s not all utopia: globalization has a lot to answer for, with the extremely delicious but plainly unhealthy Americanized foods such as pizzas and fries creeping their way into school lunches around the world.
Click through the slideshow to find out what kids around the world are eating, or sharing, during their lunch breaks.
Chinmoy is a Hong Kong-based travel and food writer, focusing on bringing the rising East and its unique culture to the rest of the world. Chinmoy is still in search of that 'perfect meal'. Let him know if you find it by sending a tweet at @chinmoylad.