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?