Learn more about Dinner

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Cuisine | Kitchen

An amount of formality may be present at a dinner

In many parts of the world, dinner is the main meal of a day, normally cooked food consisting of animal proteins and starch products like rice, noodles, or potatoes.

The word dinner comes from the French word diner, which means the chief meal of the day. Dinner can also mean a more sophisticated meal like a banquet. The word comes from the Latin disiunare, which means to break fast (like in the English word breakfast).


[edit] History

In earlier times it was customary to eat dinner earlier in the day. But with urbanization and industrialization, this changed.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word "dinner" referred to breakfast in Middle English. It derives from late Latin disiunare (to break fast) which has also provided both the French déjeuner (breakfast or lunch, depending on region) and dîner (supper or lunch, depending on region). The Spanish word desayunar, or "breakfast," also comes from this Latin root.

In well-off families in England during the mid-17th century, dinner was served at any time between 11 a.m. and noon and was a rich, heavy, alcoholic meal that lasted for anything up to 3 or 4 hours. After the meal proper, the men would stay at the table to smoke, chat, and drink, while the women would retire to a boudoir to talk, sew, and brew tea.

Then during the 18th century, dinner was served at a gradually later and later time until by the early 1800s, the normal time was between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m. and an extra meal called luncheon had been created to fill the midday gap.

[edit] Dinner customs around the world

[edit] Australia, USA and Canada

In Australia and most parts of the United States and Canada, dinner is the evening meal served around 6 to 8 p.m. In some regions, such as the southern United States, Maritimes, parts of Saskatchewan, and Québec, the evening meal is called supper (souper in Québec), and dinner (dîner) refers to the noon meal, which itself would be called lunch in most parts of the United States and Canada. In the Southern United States, the main meal of the day is called Dinner, whether taken at noon or in the evening. On farms it was traditionally taken at noon. If Dinner, the main meal of the day, is at noon, the evening meal is called Supper. If Dinner, the main meal of the day, is in the evening the noon meal is called Lunch.

[edit] The UK

In the United Kingdom, dinner traditionally meant the main meal of the day. Because of differences in custom as to when this meal was taken, dinner might mean the evening meal (typically in the higher social classes) or the midday meal (typically in lower social classes, who may describe their evening meal as tea). There is sometimes snobbery and reverse snobbery about which meaning is used. Large formal evening meals are invariably described as dinners (hence, also, the term dinner jacket which is a form of evening dress). School dinners is a British phrase for school lunches.

Ambiguity is often avoided altogether by using lunch for the midday meal and tea or supper for the evening meal, though these terms can also carry their own ambiguities.

A more formal definition of "dinner", especially outside North America, is any meal consisting of multiple courses. The minimum is usually two but there can be as many as seven. Possible courses are:

(after this it is customary to serve coffee, or brandy and cigars after the Loyal Toast)

Some confusion is caused by the word entrée, which is used in North America for the main course, but which was originally one of the earlier courses (most likely the fish course, when the main dish was red meat). In French, les entrées are the appetisers, and entrée is a somewhat pretentious word in Great Britain for the same thing (the term "starters" is more commonly used).

Dinner is generally followed by tea or coffee, sometimes served with mint chocolates or other sweets, or with brandy or a digestif. When dinner consists of many courses, these tend to be smaller and to be served over a longer time period than a dinner with only two or three courses. Dinners with many courses tend to occur at formal events such as dinner parties or banquets.

This formal version of the meal is generally served in the evening, starting some time between 7.30 and 8.30 (in the Netherlands typically at 6.00). It may be served at midday or shortly afterwards. However this tends to be more common practice in Scotland than in other countries. In Spain, where lunch is eaten relatively late, dinner is typically served late in the evening around 9 or 10 p.m.

The average cycle of meals of the day is Breakfast, Lunch, and then Dinner.

[edit] External links

es:Merienda eo:Vespermanĝo fr:Dîner no:Middag pl:Obiad ru:Обед simple:Dinner zh:晚餐


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