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Food is often eaten from individual plates or bowls, though in some cultures people eat from a common one. For some small pieces of food that can be held in the hand easily, e.g. cookies, it is more widespread to eat from a common plate or biscuit tin, etc.
Being hungry is feeling the physiological need to eat. Having appetite is desiring the act of eating (also used figuratively). Other reasons for starting a meal at a particular time are habit, agreement with others, or not having an oppportunity later on.
A picnic is an outdoor meal, where one brings one's food.