Like most seventeenth-century genre painting, Meagre Repast is probably an illustration of a moralizing story or proverb. Its precise meaning is not known however. It probably has to do with poverty and hospitality. Seated at the head of the table is a young boy with puffed up cheeks who is cooling the food with his breath. This could refer to sayings like blowing hot and cold.The composition is very similar to what are called bodegones, religious scenes with a strikingly realistic character, which the Spanish painter Velasquez painted as a young man. The contrast between light and dark, the coarse figures and the realistic depictions are also reminiscent of Caravaggios style.