For the largest and main meal of the day, we have dinner shared with the whole family. As an evening meal, dinner has a lot more expectations in terms of the menu and manners on the table.
Foremost, it can be prepared at least two hours beforehand so that means the food choices tend to be just a bit more elaborate than the other meals of the day. Dinners are also expected to be sit-down events (informal or otherwise) so one is expected to be in his or her best behavior.
For family dinners, everyone shares not only the meal but also conversations and catching up with each other’s lives. It’s still being done in much of the world’s households although with less frequency. Stews, roasts, barbecues, and hearty soups are the usual dishes served in family dinners. Serving may be family-style, wherein all the dishes are put on the table at the same time. It can also be one course at a time.
Dinners can also become a traditional form of entertaining through formal dinners or dinner parties, which usually go beyond the immediate family circle to include relatives and friends. The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer offers two important considerations when catering to a dinner party. “Choose food that can be prepared ahead of time, so that you can spend more time at the table than over the stove, and never, ever, make a dish for company that you haven’t made before and mastered.”
The last tip is important because you would only want to serve the best dishes you have made a lot of times. But if you want something new, spend at least a week cooking that new dish so by the time the dinner party rolls in, it would have become your new specialty dish that you could make by heart. And if it’s well-done, it would be a memorable dinner indeed.
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