A ploughman’s lunch (abbrev. to ploughman’s) is a cold meal originating in the United Kingdom, commonly served in pubs. Its core components are cheese, chutney and bread. The dish can also include such items as boiled eggs, ham and pickled onions, and is traditionally accompanied with a drink of beer. As its name suggests, it is more commonly consumed as a midday snack.
Although beer, bread and cheese have been paired in the English diet since antiquity, the etymology of the term “ploughman’s lunch” with regards to a specific meal have been cause for much debate. The name evokes a historic provenance, but the phrase is believed to date no further back than the 1950s, when the Cheese Bureau began promoting the meal in pubs as a way to increase the sales of cheese, which had recently ceased to be rationed. Its popularity increased as the Milk Marketing Board promoted the meal nationally throughout the 1960s. Its rise during the 1970s was at least partially based on a British cultural “revulsion from technology and modernity and a renewed love-affair with an idealised national past”.
The dish is popular in the United Kingdom, and was nominated as a cultural icon of England, in a similar vein to such dishes as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and fish and chips.