We all can tell tales of little disasters that happened at somebody's dinner party, or worse, at our own!
Here a little help from us. It is not a comprehensive guide, but it is a good start that rules out potential disaster zones right from the start. It makes planning the food part of a dinner party easier and helps you avoid pitfalls.
1. Fingerfood that requires two hands
Before dinner starts, it is nice to stand with friends you haven't met for a while and have a conversation, a glass in your hand. Then, somebody passes around little jars of dip with vegetables stuck in them. Looks like a great idea. You would like to take it, but what to do with your drink in the meantime?
So the best option is to serve food on cocktail sticks or that can be eaten with one hand and without spilling.
2. Staining food
Red wine and beetroot on carpets, sofas and clothes... We have all been there! The best course of action to avoid any such stains is to leave these foods and drinks out. White wine will do nicely, surely!
3. Young red wines
Red wines, when only harvested and bottled a few months or a year ago, can give your guests blue lips and tongues, and even teeth can be affected. Nothing to be worried about, apart from the embarrassment of it.
Exception: Light red wines like Beaujolais Primeurs from the Burgundy region of France.
4. Foods that get stuck in your teeth - Spinach and Poppy Seeds
Again, nothing to worry about as it doesn't have any implications on your health, but it is not an endearing sight to look at somebody who has food stuck in their front teeth. And embarrassing for them as well, when they find out later.
5. Garlic and raw onions
Most of us love the taste of raw onions and garlic, but being hit by or emitting wafts of same when talking to somebody is much less desirable. You would want to know those people very well to be in their orbit!
6. Three rich courses
When planning the food side of your dinner party, it is important to keep in mind that most people would not be able for a deep-fried cheese starter, a lasagne and a Salted Caramel Cheesecake, as delicious as every course might sound. Why not start off with a Guacamole dip and vegetable strips, then a good and hearty main course, and a fruit salad for finish?
7. Nuts and other allergens
Many people don't like nuts, or are even allergic to them. So the best thing would be to leave them out altogether.
But there are 13 more allergens (find a list here), so it would be good to know with certainty what went into your food so that you can answer any questions from your dinner guests with authority.
8. Raw foods
Serving raw eggs, un(der)cooked beef, oysters or sushi is always a matter of trust. Many people would shy away from them for fear of getting sick. So it might be less hassly to stay away from them instead of having to explain where the food is coming from and why it is safe to eat.
Not many hosts would think about springing offal or other highly unusual foods on unsuspecting dinner guests, but we thought we mention it in this connection. Just in case!
10. Too much fish
Fish is delicious (what else would we maintain!), but two fish courses in one meal might be just a bit much. There are more meat than fish lovers out there, so having a balanced variety of foods would be best.
Note: There is always room for smoked salmon in starters! :-)