IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A FREE SUNDAY LUNCH?
Richard Youle, Evening Post, 13th April 2007, page 3

Academics go to town on all manner of weird and wonderful subjects - quantum mechanics, marine ecosystems, and the role of left-handed accordion players in 18th Century Brittany. They can make key scientific breakthroughs, help explain historical events in a new light, and discover just why lesser-spotted woodpeckers fly to the left during a full moon.

Swansea Institute graduate Rebecca Carl has become an expert on something we can all relate to, Sunday lunch. And she has discovered she has a penchant for parsnips.

Rebecca, aged 27, is coming to the end of a Masters degree in Visual Communication. Her main project this year was to go to Sunday lunch with as many Welsh families as possible. Eight of them kindly got in touch with Rebecca after seeing a story in the Evening Post.

They provided the roast, and Rebecca turned up at their door with a camera and tape recorder, and analysed proceedings. And, after peering behind the veneer of everyday Welsh life, she has some amusing incidents to relate.

Like the time she accompanied a son to the pub after a family row about how to cook the roast. Or the time her host curled up after lunch and had a nap. Or when she stayed on after the washing-up, playing Deal or No Deal, meeting family friends and watching rugby on TV.


She said there was only one "typical" family where the sons helped their dad and the daughters baked a cake with their mum.

At another, the sons ate elsewhere while one of their girlfriends always showed up.

Rebecca, who is originally from Leipzig in Germany, took around 700 photos in each of the eight homes she visited. And she is now considering a three-year PhD, joining families all around the world for their weekly nosh-up.

Rebecca, of Townhill, said she has made a real bond with some of her hosts.

"I expected them to behave differently as I was a stranger in their home, but they behaved completely normally," she said. "That surprised me."

She added: "Some of the food was better than others, but it was all really good.

"I had beef, lamb, pork, venison, and it was the first time I'd ever had parsnips.

"I also found out that gravy is the most important thing.

"And I had bread and butter pudding three times, and fruit crumble."

Rebecca said one of the families has almost adopted her, buying her a ticket to see the Ospreys for her birthday.

Another of her hosts took her to a golf driving range as she had never been before, and in return she cooked them German-style pork schnitzel with bread crumbs.

Rebecca's project has even caught the eye of celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson, who emailed her his all-time favourite Sunday lunch.

She is now busy writing up her findings, organising her pictures and preparing Sunday lunch exhibitions in Swansea's Grand Theatre, from June 22 to 27, and in London. But she has also thought of the future.

"I've applied for a part-time lecturer's job next year at the institute and also for a PhD, which would mean travelling worldwide for three years doing the same lunch project," she said.