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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.

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