[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]
I’m thinking sandwiches but that’s no answer. Big salads? Roasts? The question I’m mulling is whether there are foods we specifically identify with lunch or dinner. I can see an argument for sandwiches being of lunch in a way they aren’t of dinner, but internet argument about what qualifies as a sandwich aside, I eat things between bread at dinner often and I have a meat and two or three for lunch with the same frequency, not that I keep a log.
Restaurant menus should be a help and at first, they seem to be. Many places have an after-five menu where there’s a shift toward entrees at the expense of sandwiches in comparison to the before-five menu. The more refined a restaurant is, the more likely that the dinner menu features entrees exclusively. That seems to be an argument in favor of tying the sandwich to lunch and I think it would be a very good argument except we don’t speak French (Je comprends qu’il y en a qui parlent français mais je parle en général de la population américaine.) Unlike the Gauls we don’t have an Académie Française to dictate how much liberté we’re allowed linguistically. In English it’s messy democracy we have to deal with on that front and private enterprises like Merriam Webster and American Heritage can stand athwart yelling that x means y all they please. The fact of the matter is that if a preponderance of English speakers decide that x means z, it’ll be reflected in their next edition. In our language, dictionaries don’t tell us what words mean. They tell us what we tell them words have meant so far.Continue reading