In a citation my Google Alert came up with, two words–Ladies Lunch–stand out in an otherwise all-German paragraph–how come? Anybody out there who can translate?
By Exklusiv-München 12.30 Uhr Rena Lange lädt zum Ladies Lunch mit Modenschau und
Schmuckpräsentation, München. Ab 15 Uhr Culinarium Bavaricum – Weinpräsentation
der Superlative: Weinviertel und Mittelburgenland auf der Praterinsel in München mit
über 80 …
I’ve seen articles from Africa, photos from parts of Asia, which will show a bunch of local women assembling, sometimes with foreign language text, sometimes not.
And there it is, those words standing out–Ladies Lunch–from the rest of the text.
It is a term that is evidently un-translatable.
I called a friend who was born in Germany and lived there until she was in high school. Here’s her German for ladies lunch: damen mittagessen (ladies mid-day meal, roughly). There is, she says, no German word for lunch.
Perhaps only English has a word for lunch? The word lunch is derived from “luncheon” which originally meant a hunk of food to eat out of hand. Today luncheon is a fancy lunch (or as someone once said “a lunch that takes an eon”). Dinner was the formal mid-day meal. As dinner moved ever later in the 1900s, that hunk of food was needed between breakfast and dinner, and so lunch/luncheon replaced dinner as our mid-day meal.
Or perhaps it’s that alliteration–“repetition of an initial sound, usually a consonant . . . of two or more words in a phrase”–crosses language barriers because it is easy to remember.
In terms of women’s history, lunch is even more than that.
First women ate lunch together because they were left at home when the men went off to work. They then turned that lemon (stuck at home) into lemonade by turning lunch into their own special social event. It later became a meal around which clubs were formed (from high-minded cultural clubs to women’s clubs that led to getting the vote, to bridge clubs)–a bit of freedom! And later women were free to take their clubs out to lunch at restaurants. They’ve been “doing” lunch ever since. Ladies lunch, said JodyShields, in her “Let’s Do Lunch” article is “A special kind of oasis that excluded men.” (See Issue #1)
I know, I know–there are jokes about ladies lunch; that satirical song The Lady is a Tramp includes a line about ladies lunch; we’re seen as frivolous, time-wasting, gossipy, et cetera, et cetera. Nevertheless . . .
I think the univeral “ladies lunch” is about women’s history, women’s freedom, bonding, progress. And the more women–or ladies–who engage in the practice the better the world will be.