Basic tips for a successful dinner menu for guests
There is a simple rule for any successful menu: start cold – serve fish before the meat, then a cheese course followed by a dessert. Should you wish to serve a cheese platter then serve the dessert and allow enough time before you serve the cheese. Cheese is not only an appetizer it is also good for the teeth. The bacteria in the cheese inhibit caries.
The rules for putting together a menu have however become much more flexible and it is rare that a sorbet is served before the main course in order to neutralise the taste buds. If you have a soup planned then it should be served as the second course. The rule of thumb being warm after cold – a hot soup puts pressure on the taste buds. You have probably experienced this yourself – the second bowl of soup never tastes as good as the first. The main course should be the aromatic highpoint of the menu.
A good menu will also not have any repetitions. Two different kinds of pasta don’t have to be a problem, but herbs, fish or seafood should not be repeated. A repetition of spices for instance, quickly becomes boring. The longer the menu the lighter the courses – many hosts get worried that their guests will not have enough to eat and make the portions too large, although there is nothing worse for a guest than having to eat their food out of propriety. Perfect timing is to leave 15 minutes between courses. The brain tells us after about 10 minutes that we have had enough and it is a good idea to keep this in mind when planning the preparation and cooking of your menu. If you put the meat in the oven after you have served the fish you will be making a grave mistake. The one place that you can leave yourself time is with the dessert.