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How Many Courses to Serve?

Suzanne Pollak

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The Deans are always advocating that more is more, except when it isn’t. A good example of when more is definitely not more is the number of courses to serve at a dinner party. You’ve worked so hard, you are such a great cook, your house is so pretty, surely your guests want to be treated to all the delicacies in your arsenal. Because who wouldn’t? The Deans will tell you who wouldn’t. The very people you hoped to impress the most, your invited guests. Just as creating food and ambiance is an art form, so is conversation. To maintain a zesty repartee is fun, exhilarating, well worth the effort, and exhausting.

Three courses are as much as any guest can handle. This is really a case when you want to leave people wanting more. A guest at your dinner table is a hostage until you set them free. Once dessert has been served your guests know they are free to go, which in turn makes their lingering feel like a choice, not a chore. Hosts and guests alike will feel happy and relaxed when everyone lingers at the table with an extra glass of wine instead of after four (or gasp, five!) courses, when all guests bolt for the door at the earliest opportunity leaving a bewildered host in their wake.