Meal Confusion

By Joe Rector

What I’m about to discuss will bring about disagreement. I’m just hoping that none of my comments will upset or anger anyone. The problem is that I’m confused about meals. I never know which one I’m eating.

Breakfast isn’t a problem. It is the first meal for most of us. I don’t recall ever having eaten what some folks refer to as “brunch.” Somehow the mere thoughts of eating what I call “frou-frou” foods and drinking Mimosas makes my stomach roll. If I eat morning meals, they consist of simple scrambled eggs with plenty of bacon or sausage or a bowl of cereal. On special occasions, I might find a table serving biscuits and gravy, and like Erma Bombeck stated, “Gravy is a beverage” in my world.

I call the midday meal “lunch.” To me, the food choices are simple. A bologna sandwich with chips is enough. Some folks have called this meal “dinner.” The only time dinner is served in my world is on Sunday afternoons and on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Dinner is what Mamaw cooked for Papaw during the middle of the day. She’d stew potatoes and some kind of “side meat.” Biscuits or cornbread also graced the table. It was a hearty meal for a man who grew up working on the farm and continued to do so into his adult life. I’m sure foods were fried and salted; not much attention was given to calories or carbohydrates or protein. Hot foods, as opposed to sandwiches or salads, made the meal “dinner.”

The kind of meal that Mamaw made consisted of heavy foods. I can’t eat them these days. First, no fried foods have been served in our house for years. Second, if I ate a meal with hot food, I’d be looking for a place to lie down for a nap. For whatever reason, good food consumption makes me sluggish. A bologna sandwich might not be healthy, but at least it feeds my hunger and keeps me going the rest of the work day.

My poor wife is confused as well. After we’ve been home from work for a while, she will often ask me what I want for dinner. Sometimes smart remarks follow the question. At other times, I ask her if it’s Sunday. None of my wisecracks go over well.

For me, the evening meal is “supper.” I grew up with supper, not dinner. Mother would call through the house, “Supper!” We’d make our way to the kitchen for plenty of food that brought comfort and fullness. Always we had some kind of meat with the meal, even if it were fried spam or bologna. Mamaw’s suppers were the leftovers from the midday meal. She’d re-heat the food, or sometimes she’d serve it cold. Either way, that was of what supper consisted.

Even snacks are different these days. We ate chips or graham crackers with peanut butter or saltine crackers. Today, folks shudder to think that their children might eat something like those things. Instead, they eat vegetables or seaweed sheets or fruits. Yes, those things are much healthier, but I’ve eaten the seaweed stuff, and it is NASTY. So are the bags of vegetable sticks.

The names of the meals we eat are engrained at childhood. To give them up for other words feels a little like turning my back on my family’s history. Yes, some might say it’s a goofy, even ridiculous topic on which to spend time. Maybe I should follow the adage, “Call me what you want, but don’t call me late for supper.”

 

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