Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Dinner Time


Recommended Posts

My experience has been that early dinnertimes are more common in the American Midwest, and I think this tradition may be a holdover from more agrarian times.

Backed up by the post below and my own childhood experience.

Why is eating dinner later somehow considered more "urbane" or fashionable?

Because it's European.

But it's also more "urban." More below.

I grew up in Kansas City and still live here. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents while my parents worked during the day.

Dinner was at 11:30

Supper was at 5:30

Are you using "dinner" and "supper" as the British do here -- IOW, "dinner" is what we call "lunch" and "supper" is "dinner"?

If so, then this jibes with my experience -- except that, as Grandma didn't keep or feed me during the week, dinner (supper) was usually around 6:30 pm rather than 5:30. Both my parents worked in shift jobs during my earlier youth, but usually one of them (mainly Dad) was available to fix dinner.

Kansas City, however, is a city in our agricultural heartland. The early morning newscasts on local TV included livestock and commodity price reports. I don't think that they run those even on WGAL TV 8 (Lancaster's local TV station) up this way. I can't recall eating dinner before 7 ever once I got out of college, and I haven't lived in a predominantly agricultural region since leaving Kansas City.

I'm the cook in my household, which means we usually eat dinner 30 to 90 minutes after I get home, depending on what I end up fixing. Sometimes I remember to prepare some Crock-Pot specialty before heading for work, and on those evenings, we eat early. Otherwise, on a summer night, it's 8 at the earliest, and 9 more likely, before I have dinner ready, as I don't walk in the door until after 7 pm.

When I go back to a five-day workweek for the academic year, dinnertime will move back to the 7-to-8-pm window.

As others have noted above, I do think that the nature of urban living itself, unless one lives in an urban area in farm country, tends to make later dinners common.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dinner for me is typically between 8:30 and 10:00pm. I became accustomed to eating late while living in Quebec, and I guess it kinda stuck. Even later dinners aren't necessarily unusual. I typically don't eat breakfast, and have lunch around 1:00pm or 2:00pm.

In general here in Madison, Wisconsin, I think people typically take dinner around 7:00pm to 8:00pm, but those who eat on a vampire schedule are not uncommon.

My relatives from upstate eat much earilier... 4:30 to 7:00pm, maybe. It's always a challenge when they come for a visit. They clamour for dinner at 5pm, sometimes earlier... and I always have to explain that restaurants won't be serving dinner yet... either that or feel like a freak when we show up at 5 on the dot, and the restaurant lies vacant, save my family, for an hour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too don't understand eating very late, say after 8 or 9pm--i've always been under the impression that going to bed full isn't terribly good for you.

I like the late-eating thing because it means that you're sitting around a table with your friends and family for a nice long evening (hopefully) rather than split out in different directions or tied to the tube. I find if you start dinner at 6:00, people have a tendency to to eat fast and drift apart.

Also, late dining gives you a chance to leave the day behind and, if you're cooking at home, cook a more elaborate meal.

For what it's worth, Greeks start dinner at 10PM on weekday nights and don't leave the table for hours. Another reason I love that country.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Growing up, dinner was always at 6:00 PM. That gave my father enough time to change out of his business clothes and pour a beer. Once my siblings and I got involved in school sports, mealtimes went out the window. We ate a lot of those frozen things that were cooked by dropping the bag into boiling water and then dumping the contents onto white bread. Frozen hamburger patties were good too. Mom kept us supplied with whatever we could prepare for ourselves and get to where ever we had practice that night. College days were worse. Still living at home, Mom would throw whatever was left from dinner into the oven on the 'keep warm' setting. Some things fared better than others. Dinners were usually eaten around 8:00PM. Married life initially saw dinners on the table at 7:00 or so. Once we both joined gyms for after work exercise, dinners were whatever you wanted whenever you got in. I went through a period of cooking bags of frozen broccoli in chicken broth and having that with lots of grated cheese on top. Now that we're semi-retired, dinner is anywhere from 6:00 - 7:30.

We never understood those who enjoy dining in the late evening. We're both hungry around 6:00 and will sometimes snack on carrots while dinner is cooking. We love to get those early dinner reservations that seem to be easy to come by. It's a good thing that eveyone doesn't want to eat at the same time. Can you imagine the chaos if people didn't get hungry throughout the day? :shock:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a good thing that eveyone doesn't want to eat at the same time.  Can you imagine the chaos if people didn't get hungry throughout the day? :shock:

I don't know - I kind of like the French set-in-stone style of not eating between meals. Most restaurants (and generally, all restaurants outside of the capital) serve food from 12-2pm and from 7:30-10:30pm, end of story. (I once went biking and we ended up rolling into a small village, starving, at 1:50pm. The only restaurant in the town refused to serve us because they were closing up their lunch service!)

There's something about the anarchically unstructured American eating habits that must be contributing to overweight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

When I was a kid it always seemed very strange that a lot of my friend's families at dinner at five... the earliest we ever ate was 6-6.30, and in the summertime it crept backwards to 7.30-8 (especially when it was very hot - the longer and hotter the day, the later it was before anyone was hungry...)

Nowadays, my husband's work hours are erratic, so our dinner time depends entirely on when he gets home for the day. Our ideal dinner time (if we've eaten lunch that day) is anywhere between 6 and 7. But if I know he'll be home about 4pm, I cook our dinner in the afternoon and we eat as soon as he gets home, then we have a snack for supper at nine.

When we're going out for a meal, in possible we go in the afternoon between regular lunch and dinner times - that way the restaurant is nice and quiet and not so busy and we don't have to wait for a table - we HATE waiting around! We like to arrange our dining around our schedule, not our schedule around our dining...

Edited by Kajikit (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...