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WTF is Supper?


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In my family dinner and supper are used interchangeably to mean the main meal of the day served between 6 and 8 PM. Tea is a drink rarely ever served.

I grew up with tea being the evening meal and it was usually a light meal but I notice now when my English family talks of tea they mean something considerably more substantial than anything I recall - in fact it seems to mean dinner/supper. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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So, just to be clear.

Supper is the last meal of the day, as long as it's smaller than lunch, which might be dinner if you're pikey.

Americans and Canadians from rural or possibly urban backgrounds can eat supper at any time of day they damn well want to, but they have to go to special camps to do it.

Supper should include tea, bread, cheese, a kebab or cider, unless you're from Scotland when it may, or may not, contain fish (unless you're in C17th France).

If you use the word 'supper' people will think you are either posh, not posh, pikey, Northern or a pedant with an extensive knowledge of references to eating in Chaucer.

You should probably be upper class to have supper, or possibly middle class, or possibly a member of the lumpenproletariat trying to convince people that you are a Belgian aristocrat - unless you are a Scottish fish.

Glad we've cleared that up then.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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This post got me to thinking on a grander historical scale in terms of the use of mealtime terminology.

I found this article which makes interesting reading, and confirms the opinion that meals used to be breakfast, dinner, supper, with tea being an upper middle class or even royal invention for ladies of leisure which became fashionable as the popularity of tea as a drink increased and tea-houses found themselves at the favour of those that had nothing better to do of an afternoon than sit in a tea house and eat cakes and sandwiches in between dinner and supper.

Anyhow, heres the article: http://www.history-magazine.com/dinner2.html

Enjoy

Raj

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Interesting to see the Great Britain spin on this.

Our middle class family without British roots in New England (1960's-now) usually calls the nighttime meal around 6:00 "supper" in the sense that it was a more simple meal than a potential "dinner". (no appetizers, or mulitple courses, rather meat with a few side dishes or even a one pot meal like a stew.) Our big meal on Sunday after church in the afternoon is definately "Sunday dinner". If someone was being invited over, it would be for a "dinner" usually, not just a "supper".

Suzanne Goin, author of "Sunday Supper at Lucques" and chef of the same restaurant in LA, also seems to use it in a way which means more casual, and less "posh". The suppers on Sunday nights at her restaurant are a simpler prix fixe menu with most of the course selection made by the restaurant.

The other context I can think of for "supper", in the US anyway, is kind of an old-fashioned one that I associate with a a fancy late night dinner in a big city. For example, "We had a late night supper of champagne and oysters after the gallery opening."

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Supper is the last meal of the day, as long as it's smaller than lunch, which might be dinner if you're pikey.

Does this mean that if you don't eat anything after dinner, then it's supper?

Americans and Canadians from rural or possibly urban backgrounds can eat supper at any time of day they damn well want to, but they have to go to special camps to do it.

:biggrin: Yes... it's all about the 'special' camps.

What is pikey?

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No, tea is a meal less substantial than dinner, possibly involving a hot dish, but also sandwiches and cakes and of course tea to drink.

Is tea different from 'high-tea'? Or is high-tea something that only sad foreigners do?

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(Re. Common family. As you correctly aver, mine were a semi-criminal bunch of itinerant West Country criminals. I had to marry class  :wink: )

5 pints of Cider is not supper.

Not even with ice in it?

No, that's pudding (or dessert) :biggrin:

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No, tea is a meal less substantial than dinner, possibly involving a hot dish, but also sandwiches and cakes and of course tea to drink.

Is tea different from 'high-tea'? Or is high-tea something that only sad foreigners do?

Tea - a drink with jam and bread

High tea - a former working/ lower middle class evening main meal, quite substantial, contains meat, kippers, beans all that working class stuff.

Afternoon tea - is more poncy and has little cakes and sandwiches with crusts cut off on Multitiered plates. Not a main meal.

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The only circumstance in which I would possibly use 'supper', or wish to hear it used, is in reference to a bite to eat just before bed. This may be another northern thing.

Ditto.

I thought supper was something that was consumed at home after 22.00.

What about the Scottish term 'Fish Supper' when referring to Fish & Chips ?

What's that all about ?

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In the US, the distinction between "dinner" and "supper" dates from colonial times. The upper classes (plantation folk or nearly so) would rise early, do whatever they had to do, come back for breakfast around 8:00am or so. Then sometime around 1:00 or 2:00pm, their work day was over. Dinner - the most elaborate meal of the day - was served then. If company was coming (or they were going) for some festivities, it would be then. Much dancing, revelry, and drinking (why was I born so late :raz:?). In the evening, one supped (no, that's not a typo) on the leftovers from dinner. Hence, breakfast, dinner, and supper. This distinction dates at least from the time of Jefferson, and I think I remember from the time of Thomas Lee (born 1690), ancestor of Robert E.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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In Scottish take away parlance the word "supper" usually means something dipped in batter and deep fried and then served with chips. A spam fritter supper, a mars bar supper, a haggis supper, black pudding supper, haddock supper, cod supper etc etc.

And one wonders why they have such a high rate of heart attacks!

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In Scottish take away parlance the word "supper" usually means something dipped in batter and deep fried and then served with chips.  A spam fritter supper, a mars bar supper, a haggis supper, black pudding supper, haddock supper, cod supper etc etc.

And one wonders why they have such a high rate of heart attacks!

Actually, I believe "supper" in this context refers only to the chips, not the batter. In my artery-hardening youth I have experienced the macaroni pie supper, the smoked sausage (ie. saveloy) supper and, at the Dishlandtown Chippy in Arbroath, the near-legendary chip supper (ie. chips with chips). All were mercifully unbattered.

I suspect the Scottish use of "supper" was initially intended to suggest that you were buying a full meal rather than a snack (which would be "single", as in single fish, single sausage, single chips, etc).

Edited by naebody (log)
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In Scottish take away parlance the word "supper" usually means something dipped in batter and deep fried and then served with chips.  A spam fritter supper, a mars bar supper, a haggis supper, black pudding supper, haddock supper, cod supper etc etc.

And one wonders why they have such a high rate of heart attacks!

I have fond memories of pizza straight from the freezer into the batter and then the hot oil. They didn't even take it out of its plastic bag first.

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If you use the word 'supper' people will think you are either posh, not posh, pikey, Northern or a pedant with an extensive knowledge of references to eating in Chaucer.

You should probably be upper class to have supper, or possibly middle class, or possibly a member of the lumpenproletariat trying to convince people that you are a Belgian aristocrat - unless you are a Scottish fish.

Glad we've cleared that up then.

You catch on quick, Tim -- no flies on this lad.

In North America "supper" used as a posh term is almost unheard of. It's, yes, the main evening meal if the midday meal provided most of the calories, nutrition and ceremony. It's not about class.( I think.)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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In North America "supper" used as a posh term is almost unheard of.  It's, yes, the main evening meal if the midday meal provided most of the calories, nutrition and ceremony. It's not about class.( I think.)

I think that in NA it is more of a rural vs. urban thing (though not exclusively). Many farmers still use it to mean evening meal, while dinner is midday.

In my mind, dinner is a more substantial evening meal and supper is a lighter evening meal. They are pretty interchangeable around here. And my immediate world is so without a class structure that I would never give the class issue a thought.

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I have fond memories of pizza straight from the freezer into the batter and then the hot oil. They didn't even take it out of its plastic bag first.

A bit of an urban myth.

True the first low quality supermarket type pizzas were deep fried, but never battered. (maybe only as a one off joke)

The curious thing is that the people who deep fried these pizzas were of Italian decent.

Work that one out !!!

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Come to Edinburgh and live the urban myth.

Ah the Peoples Republic of Edinburgh. :rolleyes:

That explains everything.

I thought we were referring to Scotland. :wink:

All kidding aside, I've never seen them battered, however,

that still doesn't explain why Italians would deep fry a pizza.

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Mostly they are just tossed in the hot fat, but I have seen plenty of kids ask for them to be battered.

With a few exceptions, Edinburgh has the worst Italian food I have come across. I think that Scottishness dilutes out Italianess.

Wouldn't repeat your last comment near the vicinity of Valvona & Crolla :shock:

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