While our evening meal wasn’t described as a ‘kitchen’ supper, it was certainly classified as a supper rather than a dinner, which led to a fascinating discussion between my friends and me about the naming of meal times. Corin Willett, Katherine Park, Irene Kirkman and I were topping off a fantastic girlie day out in the Cotswolds by taking our evening meal at Daylesford Organics, which is just five miles west of Chipping Norton.

During the summer months this classy organic farm shop opens its restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings. But this is not, in the restaurant’s chosen vocabulary, for dinner. It’s supper that they serve.

We assumed this implied we were in for a slightly lighter meal than a formal three- or four-course dinner with all the optional extras. Not so. The supper menu we were presented with included the usual assortment of dishes that would have graced a full formal dinner menu, starting with a sharing plate of crudités created from freshly harvested courgette flowers, pea sprouts and other young shoots and vegetables. Thanks to the appearance of the sun that day, the crudités were enjoyed outside in one of two stylish courtyards, along with chilled glasses of rosé wine. Supper then continued inside with a fine assortment of starters, including: chilled pea and mint soup, potted coronation Dorset crab served with parchment bread, iberico ham served with torn figs, rocket leaves and parmesan. These starters were followed by a choice of main courses — slowly wood-roasted lamb shoulder, charcoal grilled Aberdeen Angus beef rib, whole sea bass, wood-roasted chicken and other fine things. Succulent puddings were listed too. This was all a far cry from the ‘suppers’ I had as a child.

So what is the exact definition of supper? Were we right in deciding that how we describe our meals is still a class signifier? That what we eat and when we eat still defines our place in the world?

While nibbling on our crudités we decided dinner was definitely the main and most formal meal of the day regardless of when it was served. I say this because until the 18th century, dinner was usually eaten at midday, which may be why we still talk about school dinners and have to check the time of a dinner invitation issued by friends who often refer to lunch as dinner. The term ‘kitchen supper’ — recently brought back into use by Francis Maude in relation to David Cameron ’s evening meals at No 10 — is certainly loaded with class connotations, as it implies the host has a kitchen large enough in which to eat and that there is another room within the house where dinner could have been served. That said, its etymological roots go back to the days when servants of a household were generally expected to eat away from the family members they served. The cook, however, would pride herself on creating kitchen suppers for the staff, which were as delicious as the family’s dinner even when the basic ingredients were not quite so lavish.

Then there’s all the confusion about ‘tea’, which also doubles for the word supper in some households. An invitation to tea can often mean an invitation to an evening meal.

Fortunately, we are now far more lax about the many rules that once governed the dinner table. John Betjeman highlights them superbly in his poem How to get on in society written in the 1950s when such things were important. Words such as ‘cruet’, ‘doyley’ and ‘serviette’ are seldom used today. Describing a pudding as a ‘sweet’ is démodé today and if used in certain company would probably act as a class signifier.

So, as I was saying, there we were, three friends finishing off a glorious day out by reciting Betjeman and trying to unravel the true meaning of the word ‘supper’, while enjoying some jolly fine food. What more could we wish for after a day walking the Cotswolds?

For those unfamiliar with Daylesford and its surrounding countryside be assured it is a picturesque part of the Cotswolds, if somewhat manicured and in places slightly sanitised. Daylesford Organic farm shop and restaurant stands amid fields of buttercups where cattle graze peacefully. One word of warning however: Daylesford is not cheap. If you have to ask how much something costs, you can’t afford it. We broke into our piggy banks for this supper, but it was worth it.