Idiot foreigners

Sifton is on a quest to bring Sunday suppers to America. And in the era of Trump, the call to gather around the table with family and friends seems all the more relevant. The British have a rich tradition of Sunday suppers, with dinner often being built around a big roast. But we don’t have an equivalent in America.

We British don’t have a tradition of Sunday suppers at all. We have a tradition of Sunday Lunch.

Which is, y’kno, different.

We might even call it Sunday dinner at times but that’s because we’ve a class based different in what we call the meal in the middle of the day. Poshos – well, just plain civilised – call it lunch, the proles call it dinner. But even that doesn’t excuse calling it supper now, does it?

45 thoughts on “Idiot foreigners”

  1. My family on my fathers side always had a big Sunday supper. My grandfather was one of 6 and all the families lived close together and would congregate after evening service at the local Methodist church for a cold meat supper at their old family home. There were often visiting preachers from the church who’d been invited along, and other friends. There were regularly a dozen or more people squeezed in round the table. I have very fond memories of those meals, sadly as that generation died off and the next ones scattered to the 4 corners of the country the tradition died.

  2. “We British don’t have a tradition of Sunday suppers at all. We have a tradition of Sunday Lunch”.
    Lunch / Supper = light meal.
    Dinner = something larger and more formal.
    So, on a Sunday at about half one, a proper roast bird / joint with Arctic Roll for afters. Followed by the Big Match on ITV (God, some of those pitches were like the Somme). Then a snooze before catching Jess Yates playing with his organ.

  3. in the era of Trump, the call to gather around the table with family and friends seems all the more relevant

    So, the influence of The Donald is so great that it encourages even Godless, soy-munching Salonites to value their family interactions?

    He’s literally magic. Bigly.

  4. I’m trying to remember last time I had “on a Sunday at about half one, a proper roast bird / joint”. Thirty years ago? More? I don’t think I even know anyone (in the UK) eats a full meal at that time on a Sunday. What strange lives some of you live. What happens on Sundays would let you do that? Nothing, presumably?

  5. Oddly, Mrs R and I are in the bar of a nice country hotel, waiting to be called through for our Sunday lunch. Pint of Doom Bar now, a couple of reds at dinner then relax watching the French pulling down the trousers of those dreadful Scots.

  6. I don’t think I even know anyone (in the UK) eats a full meal at that time on a Sunday.

    How sad. I hope things buck up for them all.

    Off the top of my head, reasons for a 1.30pm Sunday roast: suits timetable of children or oldies, allows a post-lunch stroll in daylight, allows guests to drive home in daylight, less chance of missing the start of the rugby, gives you a extra few hours to digest the beef.

  7. The Meissen Bison

    @ Rowdy – What does Mrs R do while you read and post? I hope she brought her knitting or a good book.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    My maternal grandmother always did their main meal at midday because granddad always came home for it and it carried on in to retirement. Sunday roast was just the grand one and then Monday would always be Shepherd’s pie, Tuesday she’d get some brisket, Friday was always fish, even though they weren’t religious.

    When he came home they had tea, which was tea and sandwiches and usually some cakes, granny was always baking, and then they had supper just before bedtime.

    My father wasn’t as fussed and didn’t come home but he was a stickler for Sunday roast dinner at 2:30pm after he’d had a couple in the pub. It was the one meal we weren’t allowed to miss or get down from the table until everyone had finished. His Sunday supper was always cold sprouts with tomato ketchup! But Breakfast, dinner, teas, supper always stuck.

    I should say we also had it the Yorkshire way, flat round Yorkshire puddings the size of a plate with lashings of onion gravy as the starter.

    I’ve now been trained by the southern (Henley/Swindon) raised Mrs BiND to call the midday meal lunch, which is generally soup in winter. We tend to have our evening meal so late its usually called supper.

  9. Looking through the posts, I suppose you are a strange lot. Rugby football’s a tiny minority interest. Even the oiks version of football is a minority interest when it comes to thinking a televised match is important. Or even entertaining. (And always has been. It’s just that soccer enthusiasts make so much f’ng noise about their obsession & presume everyone else shares it.)

  10. Hey, BIS. I guess as you are in La Viva Espanya you’re pre-occupied with throwing donkeys from upstairs windows.
    And FYI, the last ‘Sunday dinner’ I had was in the Coopers Arms,Quesada, Alicante, Spain. We had to book and it was packed. Strange lot in Spain eh.

  11. The Other Bloke in Italy

    A meal not mentioned so far is the Scots practice of High Tea, pronounced “Haigh Tea” by middle class Edinburgh ladies.

    Taken between 5 and 6 in the afternoon, it still exists in o!d fashioned hotels and cafes; and consists of a small savoury such as soup followed by scones and cakes taken from a tiered stand.

    Just the ticket between a decent Sunday lunch and supper.

  12. MB – she reads her phone. I just hope she’s not posting any cis hetero normative nonsense: too humiliating.

    Jussi – I like it. And the alternative was one from an array of lagers.

  13. Not going too well on the debagging front unfortunately.

    Lovely lunch though, apple crumble and custard to finish.

  14. Sifton is a double idiot – significant portions of the American South have a tradition of large Sunday *dinners* (dinner, in this case, in its proper meaning of late afternoon meal rather than as a synonym for supper as its normally used).

    For the rest of us, dinner (as a synonym for supper, ie, the last meal of the day) is normally our largest meal – no matter what day of the week it is.

  15. Oh gawd, Addolff. Shudder. But Torreveja*. I can imagine. I came here to avoid the English. And culturally, in this house, we’re S. American. Mostly Brasilian. Not Spanish.
    *Alicante, the city, I like. If you avoid the tourists.

  16. Odd things “traditions”. Couple of days ago I was reading about the “traditional French breakfast of coffee & croissant”. Since when? My ex-wife was French. I’ve lived in several areas of France over the years. No one I’ve ever known breakfasted on croissant & coffee. It’s more something you’d have in a cafe mid-morning. Flanders, traditionally, it’s bread, cheese & ham or sausage. Other regions have their own traditions. But the French tend to like substantial breakfasts.
    It’s like the hotel standard Continental Breakfast. Invented by the hotel industry to keep costs down. It’s the only place people eat it. It’s certainly not Germans.

  17. Nobody knows who Sam Sifton is and nobody gives a flying fuck about what he wants.

    Anyone who starts a conversation or an article with “In the era of Trump…” can stuff their conversation or their article. You think anyone who voted for Trump wants to get a lecture from a vegan lesbian or a Bernie Bro in a onesie? It’s bad enough they’re relatives, now we have to spend time with them? Fuck that.

  18. Agree with Jussi entirely re Doom Bar. Orrible brown beer.
    I went to a fairly decent school and yet we had what were always called school dinners, consumed at lunch time which, in turn was what my parents called dinner time. “School lunches” still sounds odd to my ears.

  19. When I was in Brugge I used to breakfast on savoury crepes (ham, cheese, spinach etc) and a few Poperings Hommelbiers…

  20. Bloke in North Dorset

    It’s like the hotel standard Continental Breakfast. Invented by the hotel industry to keep costs down. It’s the only place people eat it. It’s certainly not Germans.

    Are you sure about that, bis? When I was in Germany in the early 80s I’d occasionally stay in small pensions and hotels in out of the way villages and towns and we’d usually be given what can best be described as a continental breakfast, with a very hard boiled egg. It was also like that we we did the Romantische Straße 8 years ago.

    Apart from that, I thought the standard workers’ breakfast in Germany was beer? That’s what I witnessed a number of times, especially amongst painters and decorators working in Army quarters for some reason.

  21. Of course, traditionally the midday meal was eaten around 11AM. Because the working day started a damned sight earlier. People didn’t waste half the hours of daylight sleeping. And if you look it up, dinner & supper are interchangeable in other than British English. Dinner comes from the Old French, to dine & generally referred to the main meal of the day. And, of course, American English is often closer to C18th English than the Brit variant so you could say they’re using traditional English. As opposed to that of effete middle class nancy boys.

  22. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Jesus. What a bunch of inbreds you lot are.

    Just to assist, it’s;

    Breakfast
    Lunch
    Tea
    Dinner
    Supper

    It’s not difficult, you morons. Now polish my car and stop farting about.

  23. @MC +1

    @bis

    We had/have Sunday Dinner (roast bird / joint) at about 6.30PM, Grandparents similar and often a family gathering

    Christmas/Easter meal at about 3.30PM

    We also had Lunch, not Dinner, at school which involved joining the Lunch Queue, to be served by the cooks

    PS
    – TV inc Rugby & foolball did not influence meal times & TV Off to promote conversation

    – Continental Breakfast: Germans stuff their pockets & bags

    @Rowdy

    Hotel ‘Sunday Lunch’ (roast bird / joint) does introduce a good point about time and name

    Did workers calling lunch ‘dinner’ start when work canteens and/or school meals appeared? There is logic to calling main meal ‘dinner’ regardless of when eaten

    @BiND

    Perfect depiction of meals and ‘Tea’ was an abbreviation of High Tea

    It was the one meal we weren’t allowed to get down from the table until everyone had finished

    How awful for you. We had that at every meal, then had to ask “May I/we leave the table please?”

  24. Dinner moved later over the 18th & 19th centuries, and to different times for different social classes.

    Originally somewhere around midday, it started shifting later into the mid-afternoon in the 18th century, but still with nothing after breakfast. This was led by the upper classes eating later, presumably because they didn’t get up early, and didn’t do anything very strenuous in the mornings, so didn’t need a substantial midday meal. Patrick O’Brian mentions this (OK, modern, but he’s very good on this sort of social history); when Aubrey is promoted to captain, his dinner time gets later (he stays on duty while the officers dine, then dines himself after them, and he gets hungry – his stomach has not caught up with his professional and social advancement.

    Then in the later 19th century the working classes shifted their dinner later, to 5ish, once people were back from factory or office. However they were working hard from early morning, so at this point lunch came in to fill the gap. “Lunch” was originally a Lancastrian term, presumably because we industrialised first, and was only copied by southerners later.

    Then the upper classes start shifting dinner even later into the evening, to 7 then 8pm or even later. I can think of a contemporary account of this – Mr Pooter complains about being invited to a “late” dinner (7pm?) and says something along the lines of “we are not swells, we dine at 5”.

    The breakfast – lunch – supper trio is a modern affectation; supper was always a smaller meal after dinner, never instead of. The timing of supper varied depending on when dinner was, but it was always a subsidiary after-dinner meal.

  25. And what about the N American tradition of Brunch, all the best places round here usually have queues or you have to book.

  26. Why doesn’t it surprise me that somebody who works writes for Salon is in such a modernist bubble they think it unusual that families still have Sunday dinners together?

    When I was a boy once a month on Sunday there was a 3:30 lunch for 11; my family of five, 4 grandparents, and an aunt & uncle

    that left three Sundays remaining for the month, and miraculously and serendipitously when I was a boy three of my great-grandparents were still alive.

    Each great-grandparent would throw a somewhat larger dinner (between 25 and 30something) for their respective extended families on each of the remaining Sundays

    My great-grandparents are long gone as are my grandparents and my parents. So the family is somewhat smaller now and people have moved away. We’re down to three Sunday lunch(s) per month now (at my sister’s, my brother’s, and my uncle’s houses) the ones at dister ir brother are lunches for seven or eight, the one at my uncle is lunch for 13-15 depending on who is home from college
    … (The observant reader will notice that nowhere is there a mention of my hosting Sunday dinner, which is probably for the best)

    The fact a writer for Salon thinks that Sunday lunch is an unusual feature for Americans probably goes a long way towards explaining why Salon is out of sync with America.

  27. If we’re gonna get all antiquarian about it, what about nuncheon?

    In my profession we have a pleasant euphemism for lunch(eon): “the short adjournment”.

  28. Doom Bar Ok by my lights, but then i’m not that difficult to please. Brown, bitterish and not too strong, none of this hints of citrus or gooseberries stuff, not excessively hoppy and i’m happy. lots of our locals insisted DB had gone downhill once production switched to B-o-T and a few influential ones got our regular pump switched to Fuller’s L pride, which is pretty good imo too. note- good, not favourite – that would be Harvey’s Best.

  29. When I joined the Merchant Navy in 1967 dinner on board ship took place between 6 and 7 PM and consisted soup, entree, main course (roast of some sort with all the trimmings), cold meat and salads, dessert, cheese and biscuits followed by coffee. The saying was “it’s a grand life in the Merchant Navy. Sunday dinners every day and Christmas dinner on Sunday”. Lunch was taken at midday and was very similar in make up to dinner, with perhaps smaller servings. Even breakfast had about 4 courses. Perhaps that’s why I went from 5’6″/6 stones to 6’/12 stones in 2 years!

    When I was at school it was school dinners at midday and home to a light tea – usually sandwiches and a cup of tea.

  30. KevinS:
    “Perhaps that’s why I went from 5’6″/6 stones to 6’/12 stones in 2 years!”

    Crikey! Did you join at 14?

  31. “Dinner” – in terms of type of meal and time of day – is very variable in both class and location.

    Where I grew up, dinner was a cooked meal; lunch or tea was a cold meal, depending on the time of day, so you might have dinner and tea one day and lunch and dinner another.

    Sunday Lunch (capped) was a roast dinner served at lunchtime (or, often, a late lunchtime – often 3pm or so) on a Sunday. Sunday lunch (uncapped) is a normal lunch on a Sunday, ie a cold meal at 12pm-1pm.

    If you had two cooked meals in a day, it’s very prole to say “I had two dinners” (because it shouldn’t be that unusual). For me, that was lunch and dinner, but it certainly could be dinner and tea for other people.

  32. Bloke in Spain,

    “Odd things “traditions”. Couple of days ago I was reading about the “traditional French breakfast of coffee & croissant”. Since when? My ex-wife was French. I’ve lived in several areas of France over the years. No one I’ve ever known breakfasted on croissant & coffee. It’s more something you’d have in a cafe mid-morning. Flanders, traditionally, it’s bread, cheese & ham or sausage. Other regions have their own traditions. But the French tend to like substantial breakfasts.
    It’s like the hotel standard Continental Breakfast. Invented by the hotel industry to keep costs down. It’s the only place people eat it. It’s certainly not Germans.”

    When I stayed with French families, they had things like a bowl of chocolate with bread, or cereal. Maybe some toasted bread with jam too. When I went into the boulangerie near my parents house in rural France to get bread, they didn’t have huge numbers of croissants for sale. I got the impression that croissants were something people got occassionally.

    The thing with journos is that they love the idea of simple, collective stuff. It’s the whole “everyone’s into footie”. Actually, even when England are in the semi-final of the world cup, you barely get more than half of the *male* population.

    And don’t get me going on the boring wankiness of football conversations and coverage. People talk about clubs, players and transfer windows with the sort of inane tediousness of coffee nerds comparing espresso machines. I mean, if you’re a couple of coffee nerds, that’s fine, but they don’t act like everyone else at a pub table is a weirdo for not caring about coffee.

  33. @RichardT

    Informative, thanks

    Supper in our family was usually hot drink and cake/biscuit/toast shortly before or in bed

    @T.C

    +1

    @bis

    +1 on Foolball bores

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