Saturday, July 26, 2014

Want to Switch Lunch and Dinner?

Have you ever considered skipping a meal? Perhaps you have - for health reasons or otherwise. How about switching meals? Is it even possible to do so?

As far as I was concerned, there were three main meals in the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast came as the first meal in the morning - and the name is also logical as you break your nightly fast (= a time period spent without consuming food) with it. Lunch was what we had around midday and it could be a light meal on a school day or a better deal on a holiday. Dinner was the evening meal taken at home and it usually was a family affair. It was as simple as that.

Things don't seem to be quite so clear-cut all over the English-speaking world though. Some communities - for example people in Northern England or in the American South - refer to their midday meal as dinner and what they have in the evening is called supper. Others have lunch at midday and dinner in the evening, like we do, but there's an additional late-evening light meal called supper.

One explanation is that dinner is supposed to be the main meal of the day. So if you have your largest meal in the daytime, you call it dinner. This was the case with working-class people who needed a copious meal during the day to give them the energy they needed for the hard physical work they did. The breakfast-lunch-dinner sequence is thought to be a middle-class tradition and for those people the midday meal was a lighter one, with the main meal coming in the evening. Upper classes are said to have used the term 'supper' rather than 'dinner' for the main evening meal, reserving 'dinner' for more formal occasions, though for a lot of others supper was a light snack that followed dinner, which was taken late in the evening.

On top of all that, the English tend to include 'morning tea' and 'evening tea' also in their daily list of meals because teatime brings not only tea but also snacks with it. So the daily line-up for some would be breakfast-morning tea-lunch-evening tea-dinner-supper. The only thing is, with all that food consumed, they'd better watch their cholesterol levels!

Image credit: Lee Brimelow

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