Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tempting, tasty, tantalizing treats

It's 6pm on Saturday night and you've just turned up at your friends place for dinner. After a day of cleaning, shopping and then going for an afternoon stroll at the local park you realise that you're actually pretty hungry. Dinner is a fair way off, so you begin by chatting over a pre-dinner drink. On the table sits the appetizer, just a wee little snack to get you to dinner. What do you do?

This is something I have been wondering about for months and seeing as it's the weekend, what better time to ask. Depending on where we are, the snacks vary from sweets at my in-laws, salty nuts at my parents, bruschetta with dip, cheese and crackers, those puffed up rice snacks or on the very rare occasion, chopped up veggies. Often it's food that should be eaten in moderation or something that would not cross the threshold of my house because it's too tempting.

I've noticed that when served at our house the snacks disappear very, very quickly. I watched bemusedly last weekend when over pre-dinner drinks I needed to top up the crackers repeatedly and the carrot sticks were left nearly untouched. The outcome was pretty predictable - when the call to the table was made everyone looked sheepish and mumbled that they weren't really very hungry any more.

I wouldn't see a problem if this was an occasional splurge, but if you are doing this most weekends, then up to 2 out of 7 days becomes a problem. I'm speaking from experience here - we have a full dinner with my family every weekend on top of socialising with friends. Sharing food with family and friends is very pleasurable and I like long multi course meals that start out with casual banter over a drink. So the traditional dinner becomes a tug-a-war between being conscious of what I'm eating while still enjoying the moment as well as the effort that has gone into the meal.

So what can you do as a guest? Not turn up so hungry. Yes. Use self control. Absolutely. Randomly wander around friends houses with drink in hand asking about each painting, picture or knickknack until dinner time? Sure, especially if they are renovating (Note to self: make friends with more people who are renovating).

But what about when you are the host? What I want to know is as hosts do we have a responsibility to our friends and family regarding what we serve them, particularly before dinner? Or is it up to each of us to be adults and take responsible for what we put in our mouths regardless of temptation? Do you serve pre-dinner snacks and if so what are your favourites?


  1. I'm not going to be much help here because dinner parties are not a big part of our life. Although I am hosting one a week from today for twelve people, so I'll be watching to see if you get any healthy suggestions. I do feel responsible for what I serve to the people I invite in my home. So unless it is a special request, like the lasagna and fudge pie for my step-father's birthday, I try to stick to healthy options. For some people in my family, it is their only exposure to foods that are not brown! :-)

  2. I have this problem because I always show up hungry. We try to serve healthier lighter snacks before dinner. For example hummus and pita, salsa, and cheese and crackers. Since I am not the best cook, I think people tend to grab the pre-dinner snacks just to be safe :)

  3. I'm lucky to have a pretty healthy group of friends so I'll serve homemade crackers and veggies with homemade hummus, which gets eaten up right away.

    When I go to other peoples places, I try to situate myself away from the food or keep myself busy or have a drink in hand! But I like having a little taste of appetizers :)

    - Sagan

  4. ooo I love spinach artichoke dip...which is really bad for you it turns out...and I do serve it at parties because parties are for a mini vacation with friends...I think it's ok to splurge A LITTLE at parties :) Great topic!

  5. Patty - Wow! That's one big dinner party.

    Kristi - You made me laugh, but I'm sure they don't! I can go to the best cook in the world's house and eat all that yummy sounding cheeeeeese.

    Sagan - Homemade hummus!?! I'd have no space for dinner. Yes, drink in hand or make that two is a good idea. Offering to help to keep busy too.

    Rupal - Why is spinach artichoke dip bad for you?!? Just googled it and I see...but YUM! Will have to try it. Thanks!



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