Dinner - the whys and hows

Like most food stories, the history of dinner is really the entire history of Europe

This week we officially added dinner to our existing breakfast and lunch service at one of our favourite offices (we can't tell you where, it's a secret sshh!).

We're pretty excited - so excited in fact we've become a bit obsessed with the subject of dinner over the last couple of weeks. And that got us thinking.

What glorious train of events led us to this moment? WAIT, WAIT, before you run away, don’t worry, we’re not about to give you a detailed description of all of our health and safety paperwork. No, we’re talking the history of dinner. Why do these guys need it in the first place?

Let us tell you:

The Middle Ages

the medieval supper was no more than a snack

When the sun went down, everything stopped. Fuel to burn candles was expensive so only the richest could afford to stay up.

Supper was a snack – leftovers from the biggest meal of the day, “dinner” (served at noon), chomped down before bed at around 4pm before turning in, ready to rise with the dawn.

The 1700s

eighteenth century nobles might not eat supper until after midnight

People were getting rich. Trade booming, the middle class growing, nobles not constantly fighting wars - meaning they had free time to doss around in cities eating.

All this meant light! Candles, lamps, fires, and long morning lie-ins. The richest wouldn’t go to bed until dawn, and supper was around 9pm-2am. As for the poor? Nothing changed for the poor – early supper and early to bed, until…

The 1800s

by the nineteenth century, everyone ate dinner in the evening

Because factories! Factory workers kept the same hours as the middle class factory owners, and that meant eating late too (regardless of whether you wanted to pay for the fuel). The evening meal is called dinner now – the biggest meal of the day pushed all the way from noon to 8pm, and supper a very late meal for those who can afford to be up.

1900s – now

in modern europe everyone expects to eat a full evening meal

The story is over really! From the 1800s onwards supper stops being much of a thing, and the big “dinner” can happen at any time from midday to late evening. It's become such a part of everyone's routine that it would seem crazy not to have a full meal in the evening. In 2016, no one’s putting the lights out.

The only question is whether to eat the big one at lunchtime or in the evening. Which will you go for?

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