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What Is the Difference Between Dinner and Supper?

Whether you’re accustomed to using the word “dinner” or “supper” may depend on your generation as well as your geographic and cultural heritage. While both words are frequently interchanged, they actually have a unique application depending on historic time periods, as well as where you reside. If you’ve ever wondered Is dinner lunch or supper, we’ll answer your question below.

Supper vs. Dinner

During the 18th and 19th centuries, in the Southern regions of the nation, when most people were still farmers, dinner was often the more substantial mid-day meal. In this way, farmers had enough energy from their food to complete heavy afternoon chores.  

On the other hand, supper, at that time, was a lighter meal generally served in the evening. In many cases, supper simply consisted of soup. 

However, over time, when fewer people worked on farms, it became too difficult for them to leave their jobs and return home for a large mid-day meal. So, the noon meal became lighter, and the evening meal became far more substantial. 

In modern times, things have definitely shifted. The difference between supper and dinner is vague. Today, many folks predominantly in the South, refer to the mid-day, now lighter, meal as “lunch,” and the evening, now heavier, meal as ”supper.”  

You know what we’re talking about: the barbecued pork ribs, buttermilk biscuits served with honey, ham hocks and collard greens, and a deep-dish peach pie finale. And for goodness sake: don’t forget the sweet tea. 

Today, whether one refers to the evening meal as “Dinner” or “Supper,” and if you’re in a Southern household, everyone will walk away from the table with zero cravings for a late-night snack. Everyone is likely to wake up in the morning still fully satisfied.   

Sunday Supper Traditions

This tradition began in Europe and later spread to America. It became a long-standing custom because people who attended church on Sundays were often expected to fast. After the service, parishioners would quickly head home and prepare a feast that, in some cases, was so abundant it mimicked that of one served on a holiday. 

Unlike the formality of a Saturday night dinner party, Sunday supper has a different approach to it. The point is to just throw on an apron and create both a gathering and a meal that will warm the hearts of everyone at the table for the rest of the week. 

Parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even neighbors would often join the Sunday supper which was an opportunity for a special time together, lively conversations, sharing good food, and of course, creating priceless memories.

Sunday supper is still a tradition in much of the South today. And for those who find themselves so busy, they’re compelled to grab meals on the run, many still long for the slower-paced days when such a tradition graced their family history.

Today, there are movements in America striving to bring back the joyful tradition of Sunday supper to develop a love for real food, quality family time, close friendships, engaging conversation, and most of all to ensure the creation of future, cherished memories. 

Cheers to the legacy of the Sunday Supper! 

If you’re looking for a couple of recipes to include in your very own Southern Supper, here are two that are as easy to prepare as they are wonderful to serve. 

Southern Chicken Fried Steak 

Who doesn’t long for a hearty, Southern-style, chicken fried steak? Both crispy in texture and in a perfect balance with a creamy rich sauce, this one’s a shining star at any Sunday supper.

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds of cubed steak (6 pieces)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of flour, divided

2 dozen crushed Saltine crackers

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (more, if you prefer)

2 eggs

1/3 cup whole milk

Vegetable oil (enough for frying) 

Gravy:

1/4 cup of flour

2 cups of whole milk

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

First, season the cube steaks with salt and pepper. Then, get a dinner plate and pour on a ½ cup of flour. In a medium bowl, mix the saltine crumbs, the remaining ½ cup flour, cayenne pepper, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together with ⅓ cup milk. Take the cubed steak pieces, dredge them into the flour, then the egg mixture, and lastly the saltine crumbs. Turn the stove to medium. Take a large pan and fill it with ½ inch of oil. Cook the steaks, a few at a time, approximately 3 minutes per side. 

Drain the steaks on a plate covered with paper towels.

Use a sieve to strain the oil into a heat resistant bowl. Then, add about ¼ cup of the strained oil back into the pan. Add the flour to the pan and cook for a minute or so over medium heat. Little by little, whisk the milk into the flour and cook until thick. Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper.  

Plate the steaks, and pour the gravy over the top. Hearty and delicious! 

Rich and Chewy Praline Bars 

These are more than just a delicious Southern dessert. They are also incredible with a hot morning cup of coffee (Go ahead: We’ll never tell). There’s just something about the chewy texture, and the rich buttery tones, with the crunch of flavorful pecans. This one is great to keep on hand (it stores well in the refrigerator), to indulge your cravings at midnight or anytime.

 

Ingredients:

20 Graham Crackers 

1 ½ cups of brown sugar (packed tightly)

3 sticks of butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla 

2 cups of chopped pecans

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking pan sheet with foil. Place the Graham Crackers at the bottom of the pan, in one layer. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Then, on medium heat, add the brown sugar and whisk well until you’ve achieved a smooth consistency. When the mixture is at a full boil, add the pecans and stir well for about 2 additional minutes. Remove from the stove. Add the vanilla and whisk again. Before the mixture sets up, quickly pour it over the graham crackers. Spread to make sure the crackers are evenly covered.

Bake for about 11-12 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly. 

Take the pan from the oven, and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. Then, lifting from the foil, transfer the dessert to a cutting board, and slice it into squares. 

Cool and serve! 

 

For a contemporary, Southern-style meal, Root & Bone will definitely satisfy your every craving. Here, you’ll find traditional recipes spun in a unique and artful direction with true chef-inspired craftsmanship.

We are open for lunch on weekdays, for brunch on the weekends, and we serve supper every night. And speaking of supper, we offer modern takes on Southern dishes, we’re sure you’ll be returning for more.

Try our tempting Barbecued Bruleed Spare Ribs, the Cast Iron Seared Yellowtail Trout, or our unforgettable Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken. And you can rest assured: We always offer great sides like Grits, and Mac and Cheese.

So, if you’re in the Miami area, stop by Root & Bone at 5958 South Dixie Highway. For reservations, give us a call at 786.802.0152  We look forward to bringing you an unforgettable meal, served up with a generous dose of Southern hospitality.

Southern Cuisine History

If you were fortunate enough to grow up in a rural town in the deep south, enjoying your grandmother’s traditional home-cooked Sunday suppers, then you’re surely blessed. But for those who have never had this luxury, but still crave the classic flavors and aromas of Southern comfort food created with passion and served with love, we hear you.

Southern cuisine is more than a menu of flavorful black-eyed peas, mustard greens, grits, and fried chicken. Southern cooking is as diverse as it is delicious. So, if you’re hoping to prepare an authentic Southern meal, sans your own historic family recipes, we’ve gathered some trivia about Southern food culture, and even a couple recipes you can enjoy at home.

History of Southern Food

The origins of Southern cooking hail from just south of the Mason Dixon Line and extend all the way to Texas.

Southern food was greatly derived from African Americans (as it crosses over to soul food) as well as Native Americans. In many ways, the most iconic Southern dishes, such as black-eyed peas, pork, chicken, collard or mustard greens, cornbread, and grits, were influenced by systemic poverty, generating the necessity to purchase inexpensive ingredients to feed a family.

In addition, it was necessary to utilize locally available food, which over time, evolved into what we now recognize as the much loved, flavorful, iconic Southern dishes.

During the civil war era, most Southerners were farmers so pork and chicken were readily available. Raising cattle was not as prevalent, so beef was considered a luxury. To this day, beef does not make a strong appearance on most Southern menus.

Southern Food Staples

Southern Food Staples

Southern Fried Chicken
When Scottish immigrants came to the South, they brought along their tradition of cooking fried chicken. At the time, chicken was mostly boiled or baked. However, slaves who worked on plantations added seasoning and battering techniques from West Africa, which together, created the iconic Southern fried chicken the world loves today.

Sweet Tea
This classic Southern beverage was first introduced in the 1879 cookbook titled “Housekeeping in Old Virginia.” Sweet tea is brewed with simple syrup, then served cold over ice, and often garnished with fresh mint. Sweet tea is considered a staple beverage in the South.

Grits
This traditional dish is made from cornmeal. Hominy Grits are made from hominy, which is corn that’s been brought through an alkali process. Its name originated from the word, “grytt,” which meant “Coarse meal.” This predominantly Southern dish was first derived from a Native American creation from the 16th century.

Collard Greens
Cousin to kale, collard greens have long been a Southern cuisine favorite. Boiled in stock, and often with hammocks, this side dish is a starring component in traditional Southern meals. Rich in antioxidants, collard greens are considered one of the most economical superfoods available. And they’re delicious, too!

Black-Eyed Peas
Soulful, packed with flavor, and hearty, black-eyed peas show up at more Southern tables than almost any other dish. Being high in protein, fiber, and flavor, while remaining low in fat, have helped make black-eyed peas a Southern cuisine favorite. Tradition says that eating a plate of black-eyed peas with cornbread on New Year’s Eve will be followed by twelve months of good luck. What’s not to love about that?

Corn Bread
Originally created by Native Americans, colonists in the South took this dish and generated a wide variety of recipe versions. Typically baked or fried (and occasionally steamed), cornbread can be served sweet or spicy. Corn pone is a version of cornbread cooked in a hot skillet and most often made in the Appalachian Mountains.

Southern Fried Green Tomatoes

If you’re wondering about green tomatoes, they are simply unripe versions of their red counterparts. They offer a tangier flavor than the more common red and are a popular ingredient in Southern cooking.

Ingredients:
4 large green tomatoes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 cup of flour
1//2 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of bread crumbs
Coarse sea salt (to preference)
Freshly ground black pepper (to preference)
Approximately 1-quart vegetable oil (for frying the tomatoes)

Directions:
First, slice the tomatoes, about ½ inch thick. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Place the flour onto a large plate. On a separate plate, place the cornmeal, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs, and combine them together. Coat the tomatoes in the flour, followed by the eggs, and lastly by dredging them through the breadcrumb mixture until they are well covered. Pour the vegetable oil – at least 1/2 inch deep – into a skillet and heat to a medium-high. When the oil is hot, carefully place the tomatoes into the skillet, in small batches, making certain they do not overlap. Flip the tomatoes once they have browned. When both sides are perfectly golden, remove the slices from the skillet and drain well on paper towels.

Serving suggestions: Fried green tomatoes are delicious as a stand-alone treat, or to bring other dishes, like a BLT, to a completely new, and exciting, level.

Now, pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea and relish the joys of a simple, yet decadent, Southern treat.

Banana Pudding: Southern Style

Banana Pudding Southern Style

Ingredients:
1 cup of sugar
1 can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of flour
A pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks (set whites aside)
2 1/3 cup half & half
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 box vanilla wafers (approximately 11 ounces)
4 bananas, sliced

Meringue:
1 teaspoon of vanilla
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon of tartar cream
6 tablespoons of sugar

Directions:
Place evaporated milk, sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Then place the mixture in a saucepan on medium-high until it’s warm. Place the half and half in a bowl with the egg yolks, whisk well, and add it to the warm evaporated milk mixture and whisk again. Cook over medium heat, until the custard has thickened. Now, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Take a 7×11 baking dish and line it with vanilla wafers. Then add a layer of banana slices. Top it with half of the custard. Repeat, leaving custard as the top layer. To make the meringue, take the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar and whip. Add the sugar and whip together, until the meringue forms soft peaks. Spread the meringue over the pudding, and set under the broiler until the top becomes golden. Refrigerate to set, and serve.

Note: If preferred, whipping cream can be used instead of meringue.

This delicious banana pudding is the perfect finale to any Southern supper.

At Root & Bone, we serve genuine American cuisine with Southern flair, located in the heart of South Miami. You’ll find generous portions, farm-fresh ingredients, and classic Southern recipes presented with a chef-inspired, creative twist, all served with the grace and hospitality of a traditional home-cooked meal.

If you’re craving a crispy Fried Chicken, Creamy Shrimp & Grits, Pan Seared Snapper, or Duck Pot Pie, we’ve got it and more. We’re open on weekdays for Lunch, Saturday & Sunday Brunch and every evening for Supper. If you’re in the mood for classic Chicken and Waffles, we serve this popular dish at brunch on the weekends.

You’ll find us at 5958 South Dixie Highway in Miami. For reservations, please call 786.802.0152.

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