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to be very confused?

(21 Posts)
rosiemus Wed 06-Jun-12 13:52:45

When I was young lunch was what you ate at lunchtime - unless you were at school when it was dinner. Tea was the evening meal unless you were going out to someone's house (in which case it was dinner - although far removed from school 'dinner') Supper was a snack before bed and usually involved cocoa.

Now tea seems to mean "and cakes" - the afternoon equivalent of elevenses if you like - and my idea of tea has become dinner whether you are in or out. Although...have just been invited to a smart restaurant for an evening meal as part of a new "supper" club. There won't be cocoa.

Now I have no idea what to call anything

Bags Wed 06-Jun-12 14:04:28

Round here, the meal that people have when they get in from work and the kids have after school is 'tea' and it is usually their main meal of the day, i.e. dinner. If it's just a biscuits and buns affair, it would be called afternoon tea or, in this house, a snackeroo.

janthea Wed 06-Jun-12 14:23:22

I always understood it to be tea at 4.00pm and supper (if at home) in the evening, but dinner if one was dining out! grin

absentgrana Wed 06-Jun-12 14:46:04

Children and the servants smile have their main meal – dinner – in the middle of the day. Everyone else has lunch – or if it's a posh meal or you're very old-fashioned, luncheon – in the middle of the day. Children have [nursery] tea in the afternoon or early evening and then go to bed. Adults may have tea – thinly sliced bread and butter, little sandwiches, cakes and tea to drink – in the mid-afternoon and dinner in the mid-evening. Should anyone have room for anything more after this, such as cocoa, then it's called supper and served approaching bedtime. Debutantes' dances and other such elevated society events served a fairly substantial supper around midnight, presumably because the bright young things had danced themselves into a state of ravenous hunger.

These days, no-one has much time for lunch, tending to grab a sandwich on the run. The main evening meal is usually shared with any children and called supper or tea, depending to a large extent on which part of the country you come from. When entertaining guests for a formal meal in the evening, it is usually called dinner and also dinner is served in a restaurant in the evening.

The whole what meal is called by what name is another one of those areas of social minefield that is rife with snobbery. Perhaps it would be better if we just had morning meal, middle of the day meal and evening meal or meal 1, meal 2 and meal 3. But then what about afternoon tea – meal 2a?

I don't suppose it matters what it's called as long as everyone is called in time to eat it.

gracesmum Wed 06-Jun-12 15:07:03

And isn't that where German is so logical -
Fruhstuck (early bit) (can't do Umlauts on my laptop)
Mittagessen ( midday meal)
and Abendessen (evening meal). No social distinctions or class connotations.

On the subject of "tea" I get very cross (too often) at people referring to a posh afternoon tea - e.g. at The Ritz, as High Tea. Everybody north of Watford knows that High Tea is a cooked meal - or maybe a ham salad in summer - followed by bread and butter and cake if you are lucky.

Annobel Wed 06-Jun-12 15:32:23

When I first went to school, the mid-morning snack was sometimes known as a 'lunch' and I have seen it so called in books written earlier in the last century. After a while it became a 'playpiece' because in Scotland a 'piece' is (or was) a snack such as a 'jeelly piece' - i.e. bread and jam. We had dinner (in our case soup and a pudding of some kind) at midday and tea was a cooked meal when everyone was home from school or work. We usually had a biscuit at about 9pm when the parents had a cup of tea and the dog had her dinner too.

JessM Wed 06-Jun-12 15:44:11

The Cameron's have "kitchen suppers" it seems (what we would call a dinner party? or having people round for a meal?) A dinner to them is probably A dinner - something you go out to, in evening togs.
Down under they not only have afternoon tea they have "morning tea" - elevenses including something home baked, often. NZ women seem to bake cakes and muffins at dawn!

AlisonMA Wed 06-Jun-12 16:04:12

We have friends round for supper which is a fairly simple meal with no starter and eaten in our kitchen. Dinner with friends would be more formal and would be at least 3 courses, eaten in the dining room.

We only have 'tea' when elderly people come because they have their main meal in the middle of the day. It consists of bread and butter, jam, cheese, cold meats and cake.

Annobel when I first met my MiL and DiL I was totally confused when they offered me a 'piece'. Turned out it is a slice of bread and butter in Birmingham. I had so much to learn it was like moving to a foreign country!

numberplease Wed 06-Jun-12 16:04:57

We have breakfast, dinner and tea, and supper just before going to bed.

Ella46 Wed 06-Jun-12 16:10:38

I just have a running buffet! [pig emoticon] grin

Mamie Wed 06-Jun-12 16:17:09

We have a sandwich lunch about 1pm and then dinner about 7pm. Our French neighbours all have a hefty cooked lunch on the dot of 12.30 and then supper at about eight, which is almost always soup. I was amazed when I taught in French schools and the lunch break was an hour and a half with three courses and a cheese board. They seemed to be very short of books and equipment, but the lunch was hugely important. We ate in the staff room and the children had their three course lunch separately.

JessM Wed 06-Jun-12 16:32:41

A friend invited me to afternoon tea a few months ago. Her and her daughter had made scones, cakes and sandwiches. I ate more cake than i had ever eaten at one sitting. Fantastic!

AlisonMA Wed 06-Jun-12 16:47:29

Yummy Jess. I love it when our Dutch son comes over as he and his wife insist on going out for afternoon tea which means home made scones, jam and clotted cream and fresh made cakes as well if you can manage them. We have lots of places here where they make them on the premises.

Learnergran Wed 06-Jun-12 17:05:31

But why has nobody mentioned Second Breakfast? Is it just me and the Hobbits? grin

kittylester Wed 06-Jun-12 17:31:38

I don't care what she calls it, but my daughter is cooking it tonight! grin

nanaej Wed 06-Jun-12 20:59:02

Lunch (eon)

Don't know when I found the time to work! grin

Faye Wed 06-Jun-12 21:32:55

In Oz morning tea is just that, but usually on building sites and other work places it is called smoko, probably because besides eating a meat pie and drinking a carton of iced coffee, men would have a cigarette. Of course now most men don"t smoke and lots of men eat and drink something else but it is interesting how popular iced coffee is.

Schools have a break in the morning called recess time and that snack is referred to as recess.

j04 Wed 06-Jun-12 22:00:16

They probably have 'kitchen suppers' in No 10 because the flat is too small for a decent sized dining room.

Bags Thu 07-Jun-12 06:29:20

learnergran, you are not alone! smile

Two breakfasts every day, and sometimes three. Sometimes I recall Thomas Hardy's name for the first one, which has a lovely appeal: "dewbit".

JessM Thu 07-Jun-12 06:52:17

don't the Spanish men do something similar but instead of iced coffee a little alcohol is involved. Iced coffee out of a carton is delicious Faye but even the low fat version has a lot of sugar in it. I was shocked when I read the carton. Funny how one teaspoonful of sugar in a hot coffee would taste rather sweet but a cold drink with multiple teaspoonfuls tastes... well a bit like coffee ice-cream I suppose.

susiecb Thu 07-Jun-12 09:01:18

We still have breakfast, lunch and dinner (at about 7) If the grandchildren are here they have tea about 5.30.