Is it lunch or dinner? What about supper?


January is National Sunday Supper Month, designated as an opportunity for families to set aside their hectic schedules for a few hours as they spend time together sharing stories about the week just past, looking ahead to the coming week, and maybe just relaxing together around the kitchen table or preparing food together in the kitchen.

Now the first thing is that hardly anyone calls the evening meal supper any more, except for me, and maybe other Baby Boomer Iowans. I’ve heard it said that the trouble is that we call lunch dinner and dinner supper. I don’t see this as a problem. I have given in to calling what we eat at mid-day lunch, as in “let’s do lunch,” but to me the evening meal will always be supper. The term “dinner” sounds just a little uppity to me somehow.

I may have failed in this department with my children, because both of them call dinner lunch and supper dinner in spite of how they were brought up. But they are both city-dwellers out of state now, so there’s not much I can do about it. Besides, they have to fit in to the custom where they live.

What I remember when I was growing up is that Sunday supper was often popcorn and juice. The other option that I recall was creamed eggs on toast, a good way to use the abundance of milk that was always available. I thought creamed eggs were a tasty treat, especially if I got to do the hard-boiled eggs in the egg slicer and then put them into the waiting white sauce. Today, creamed eggs would probably be called a comfort food. I’ve never made it myself, but I just may have to do that. Too bad I don’t have the famous egg slicer.

I look at Sunday supper as a chance to close the kitchen. At least that was the case when my children were home. I always fixed Sunday dinner, served at noon, but after that was enjoyed and the kitchen cleaned up, that was supposed to be it for the rest of the day. Everyone in the family was free to fix any food they wanted that evening, but it wasn’t up to Mom. Often the choice was a bowl of cereal or popcorn, a peanut butter sandwich or leftovers from dinner. Whatever was prepared, the one doing that was supposed to clean up after themselves. Too bad it didn’t always work that way.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner.” Maybe we should change it to, “Call it anything you want, just be sure I don’t miss a meal!”