Saturday, September 19, 2009

Late lunch

For New Zealanders anyway, 'tea' still means 'dinner,' as
in the evening meal. Less common these days—in fact,
completely gone, as far as I can tell—is 'dinner' to mean
what we always now call lunch. In the early 1960s I'd
often bike home from school at the end of morning
classes for dinner at about 12.3opm—and it was dinner,
too, hot meat and vegetables as often as not, laid daily on
the table for three kids and husband by my hard-working
mother—before racing back by 1 o’clock. But I'm reading
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, and Drouet takes
Carrie out for the evening, to see The Mikado. This is
Chicago, 1889. The next sentence made me blink: ‘They
stopped in at a restaurant for a little after-theatre lunch.’
Consulting my faithful Chambers, however, I find that in
America anyway lunch once meant a snack at any time of
day. I never knew that.

1 comment: said...

Yep... I used to cycle home from college in the sixties at dinner time for a hot lunch and at tea-time, in our house, we ate a hot dinner but called it tea-time.... just to add to the confusion.