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Digging into the world’s most popular lunches

Published Sep 2, 2021


CAPE TOWN - What colours represent South African foods?

To answer this question and uncover the colour palette of each country’s typical lunchtime meal, a Polish online food website, “”, scraped data from over 3 million uniformly distributed restaurant reviews from 151 different countries to find the most dominant lunchtime dishes for each country.

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“South Africa’s colour palette ranges from dark browns to peaches and beige. With their most popular lunchtime dish of braai, this is no surprise. The meal can include a whole host of meats, from boerewors to steak and game meat, and includes accompaniments such as potato bakes and corn on the cob,” the company said.

Their research method included using an internal dataset containing an exhaustive list of global cuisines, referenced to identify the most frequently mentioned dish for each country within their sample. Preference was given to dishes suitable for lunchtime meals and to those whose primary colour could be unambiguously distinguished. A colour palette generator was used to distinguish the most prominent hues in the images of the dishes formerly identified.

The resulting dataset offered insight into each country’s most consumed lunchtime meal and the typical colours of it.

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Other African countries showed slightly different results to South Africa, with Nigeria’s food palette made up of warm tones such as red and yellow, as well as green and beige.

“Their most popular lunchtime dishes are jollof rice and efo riro, both of which use a stew-like base to build the dish, contributing to the country’s red and yellow tones. The spinach and meat in efo riro and suya also contributes to the overall palette.”

Ethiopia’s food colour palette is made up of beige and brown tones, thanks to their love of spice, meat and injera. Ethiopia’s most popular lunchtime dish is their hybrid dish of stir fry and stew, tibs. This rich and meaty dish can be spicy, but clearly locals are willing to take on that challenge.

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In the UK, kebabs and fish and chips pave the way for colours such as red, green and white. Kebabs are often accompanied by salads packed full of tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as seasoned meat. Fish and chips is England’s most iconic meal, especially when paired with mushy peas.

Details about every country and continent analysed can be found at

Cape Times

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