If you are planning a party or a dinner with friends, you’d better think about the menu as it is project in itself.

Just to start a good idea is using seasonal products…Your grocery’s list will be simplified (try to find pomegranates in august or watermelon in winter time will be a taught job). You will save precious time. You’ll be sure about the availability of all ingredients. And won’t be forced to change recipes at the last minute.

In other words you’ll be sure you find anything you need and you’ll be sure of the quality of your ingredients…

For certain ingredients you might also consider hos the wearer like… you’d better not promise your friend a fish menu while in the coast nearby happens the most terrible sea storm of the century…

If you are in doubt about putting together a complete menu, these set of rules will help you.



Consider how are you cooking for. If you are entertaining few guests call them and ask about their eventual allergies, religious food prescriptions and prohibitions, what do they like the most or don’t. If you are entertaining many guests, or you are planning a dinner with people you are not familiar with, choose a menu suitable for all: use beef, veal or chicken (meats acceptable in many religion practices), avoid strong or bizarre flavors (like leaver and other insides), as well as shellfish (that can cause allergy). Offer at least a soup and a side plate completely vegetarian.


A good idea is to avoid spicy and hot dishes, unless you planned it together with your guest…


If you go for fish avoid any kind of meat. Vice versa, if you go for meat, exclude any kind of fish: this will help in choosing a wine (or better two) that will go together with all the servings. If not sure of the wines you’d offer, ask your local wine supplier. A good idea will be showing him your menu, he will be able to advise you properly.


What is the occasion? Different occasions could indicate variations in the menu. A themed party may require appropriate recipes… In this case, your guests will be able to know the theme in advance, and will inform you about any allergies or anything. In any case it will be sensible to keep on hand short supplies of alternative food for whoever can’t eat the plates on your menu.


If you’re planning to serve at least 5 courses (which I never do, btw) and prepare cold or hot hors d’oeuvres , a soup, a main course, a side dish, and a dessert, decide which one will be the most elaborated one and keep it simple on the other dishes… Entertaining is a joy, not a slavery indeed!


Use recipes you have already cooked, at least once… if you can’t help challenging yourself with some new recipe, make yourself sure that your guest are really good friends and con bear a total failure! I’ve recently been invaded to a formal dinner where the lady of the house couldn’t stop tell us: “I do not know if this is good… it’s the first time I preparing this recipe”. I hate when this happens…

It can just be that the cooker is a master chef and is just fishing for compliments…

The second option is worse: she is totally unconfortable with what she did and she just want us to be indulgent…


While choosing your menu, try to offer a variety of colors, consistency and textures. Basic menu rules, tend to avoid two courses of the same color. If offering a lobster chowder soup, do not offer garlic carrots and pumpkin as a side plate, unless you are planning an “orange themed” dinner. In that case you might add saffron rice, smoked salmon and prawn skewers, and tangerines Bavarian cream (all seasonal, all fish, two vegetarian courses…)


Consider quantities. I’m sure that none of us is worried people will leave the table starving. Only my grand-grand-ma was, and she used to stuff us so much that I felt like crying. But she was convinced that we had to grow up…

Up to me overindulging is not a good idea: please, do not stuff your guest like turkeys. Quantities must be right, not atrocious, otherwise your guest might leave the table rolling on the floor…



Avoid all the anti-social foods that you know! We have a friend that uses a heap of uncooked red onion in any plates he prepares. There is a sort of halitosis course on his cooking stile. We can accept invitation to his place only if the day after we have a day off… no matter what we would not be able to have any social contact in the morning…



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