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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Eating Supper At Dinner

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

It may shock some people to learn I’ve never eaten supper in my life. Oh sure, I’ve hardly ever missed the evening meal, it’s just in my house it’s called dinner, not supper. 

I’ve traveled to all 50 states, and believe me, it can get really confusing in the Midwest and deep South where dinner is supper and lunch is dinner.

            As I understand it, dinner was traditionally the biggest meal of the day in the Midwest and southern farming communities, where workers needed lots of energy to work 14-hour days. Supper was a lighter meal eaten in the evening after all the work was done. 

Dinner was also the most formal meal of the day, but not in my house. I’ve never sat down to a lunch where there was a tablecloth, three forks per setting, candles or cloth napkins. I’m lucky to get a bent fork and a paper towel.

            After researching the issue, I’m still confused. Is supper lunch or dinner? 

Two of my favorite columnists have opined on the matter. Andy Rooney said Democrats eat supper before sundown and Republicans eat dinner after eight. But, I haven’t eaten dinner after eight in my life. 

Russell Baker said blue-collar people eat supper, but I’ve always considered myself a blue-collar guy and like I said, I’ve never eaten supper. He also said one can tell supper eaters because they faint dead away if served an artichoke.

            I’m of the belief, like much in our society, the words we use depend on which side of the Mississippi we live. Easterners eat dinner after dark and call it supper, and westerners eat supper at six and call it dinner. 

            If you think it’s confusing traveling between the states, you ought to go live in a foreign country like my wife and I did when we lived in Australia for a year on a Rotary Graduate Fellowship. I got to pick any university in the world to attend, and if a foreign language was spoken there, Rotary would pay for intensive language training. 

Since I thought I was going to a country that spoke English, I passed on the language training. For the first two months we lived there, I couldn’t understand a single word anybody said. From the first time I heard “Areyourightmate?” to our first invitation to tea, I just went around with a blank stare on my face.

            I’ve loved tea ever since I traveled Texas as a livestock field editor. I got hooked on Texas tea, and I’ve been addicted to iced tea ever since. So, when my wife and I were invited to “tea” in Australia, we assumed we’d be drinking a cuppa and maybe eating some scones or crumpets. 

One might imagine our surprise when we were eating dinner. Evidently tea is not only something to drink, it’s also something to bite and chew. 

It gets even more confusing when we add Brits into the mix, or as the Aussies call them, “bloody POMS,” which stands for prisoner’s of majesty’s service. This gives you an idea of the low regard held for the British in the land down under. 

The bloody POMS refer to something they call “high tea,” which we call dinner or supper, and low tea is lunch. There is also something they call afternoon tea, in which the participants get snockered on Sherry from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

One may think I’m making too much of a commotion about all this dinner versus supper thing, but I’ve seen it destroy households. 

I’m thinking of one particular “mixed marriage,” where the husband, being a farmer from the Midwest, called dinner supper and the wife, from California, insisted on eating dinner. The marriage didn’t last as long as the garage sale toaster someone gave them for a wedding present. What did you expect us to get them, a complete setting of sterling silver?

I knew the marriage had too much to overcome and wouldn’t last, so I wasn’t about to invest much money in it.

            In the final analysis, I think I’ve come up with a solution we can all live by. Forget dinner, or supper if you insist, and skip right to dessert. We all know what that is. Right?

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