So far we’ve learned to set expectations and lie about geographic origins in order to impress. Today, we move on to risk minimization. If you’re cooking to impress, the stakes are obviously higher than usual, and it’s important to minimize the chances of a disaster. Here’s how.
Tip #3: Course It Up
More courses are classier than fewer courses. That’s just a fact.
While it’s obviously easier to make one great dish rather than four, the risks are much higher if you rely on one item to carry you through the evening. Even your best food can just be in someone’s blind spot* – I bet even the best mussels in the world are unpalatable to me, for example – so it’s best to have options.
*Ideally you’d have done your research about preferences, but it’s often not possible to do so so let’s pretend we’re flying blind.
Obviously making multiple dishes increases the odds that any one will be terrible enough to taint the whole meal, but it’s a risk worth taking because it offsets many other potential problems: someone could have a strong aversion to a dish, or an allergy, or you could struggle in preparation. With multiple courses, you can hedge against those risks.
Ideally, you’ll have at least four courses: a pre-appettizer/appetizer, soup or salad, entree, and dessert. I’ve previously stretched this up to seven courses, but if you’re reading this for actual advice, you’re not ready to go that far.
Bonus tip: Each course gives you a whole new topic of conversation for a few minutes, so it’s a built-in hedge against awkward silences. Well, long awkward silences.
Tomorrow: conscripting guest labor for your benefit.