With an increased interest in economy and saving money, more people are using all of their leftovers. But this question involves serving them at a social gathering.
Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,
For the past six years on the day after Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law has a party at her home. She feels that since we are all not together on the holiday proper, it can be a ‘second-edition’ Thanksgiving for us. She extends invitations to about a dozen of us in the family. My question is this: Is it really acceptable for her to heat up her Thanksgiving leftovers and serve these items to us as she has been doing? Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is wonderful, but I can’t help but feel that it is a little rude to be served leftover food. Who is correct here?
I Don’t Like Leftovers
Dear I Don’t Like Leftovers,
I admit that I have never been asked this question before, so some time was needed to come up with a thoughtful answer.
I believe that since she is very upfront about this being a ‘second-edition’ Thanksgiving and is inviting family only, this is perfectly fine. I wonder just what else you would be eating on the day after Thanksgiving if you weren’t eating turkey and all the fixings?
Your sister-in-law is being gracious by providing a venue for you all to be together after not spending the holiday proper together. Her invitation is sent from affection.
What’s wrong with eating food that is wonderfully cooked?
I’m pleased to see that she will not be discarding perfectly good food, but sharing it with you all.
The one caveat to this that I will add: It never seems proper to serve leftovers in any other circumstance than this one: Invite family or extremely close friends only and be upfront.
Try to be gracious yourself, even if you do not like leftovers.
Cherished readers, The Lady hopes you will enjoy this fun, short snippet from one of her favorite films, Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell. Little Patrick Dennis demonstrates impeccable manners in his dealings with Mr. Babcock. A true gentleman host!
I am asked about the courses to serve at a formal dinner more times than I can remember each year. I realize that these occasions are few and far between for most folks, so I tolerate the repetitiveness. There is certainly nothing wrong with a little knowledge even if on repeat! I base my thoughts here on the advice and training I received from numerous etiquette books and apply these guidelines to my own entertaining.
Six courses is the maximum number to serve at even the most formal of gatherings. More than this and your place settings will be huge and your guests confused. Try to remember the food preferences of those you’ve invited, but certainly do not apologize if they don’t like something you serve. They may take a token serving and leave it on their plates.
Choose one: Fresh fruit cup, soup, shellfish or melon. The shellfish selection may include oysters, shrimp, or clams. BEWARE those that do not like shellfish. It might be wise to stick with soup.
Fish course (which you would omit if you served shellfish in the first course) or a dish such as sweetbreads (not sweet breads. Google if you don’t know what this is. As an aside, I prefer to serve the fish course as a matter of courtesy for those who will not eat sweetbreads.)
The entree, which may be chicken, turkey, or roast beef. You may also consider a vegetarian option for those who are not meat eaters.
Salad. The salad may also be served with the entree in a separate side dish. It is entirely correct to serve the salad after the entree, despite the custom to serve it first in restaurants.
Coffee (or tea, port wine, brandy)
A well-balanced menu is imperative and should be easy to achieve with this number of courses. Strike a balance between rich dishes and the more simple ones.
The appearance of the food should also be considered. Think of color…don’t serve all white foods with white sauces on white plates (Ohhhh how boring!) Don’t serve all sweet or all savory dishes. Aim for a beautiful balance so that the foods may be enjoyed thoroughly.
Arrange vegetables neatly in the serving dish. Arrange the meats neatly, also, rather than just piling them high on a platter. Make it interesting for your guests. Appeal to all of the senses!!!
There never seems to be a shortage of questions about food etiquette and table manners. I was asked to review items that may properly be consumed as ‘finger foods’. Bon Appetit.
Pizza: Except at a very formal dinner where one would use knife and fork (I can truthfully say that I’ve never been to a formal dinner where pizza was served) pizza is eaten in your fingers with the wedge sides held together so that the cheese and filling do not come out. Have a napkin handy, just in case.
French Fries: Plain, small french fries with no gravy or ketchup on them can be eaten using your fingers, unless they are extremely greasy. Large french fries, or those served with gravy or other sauce are best eaten using fork.
Artichokes: A finger food.
Bacon: Only very crisp bacon may be eaten using your fingers.
Fried chicken: Should be eaten as a finger food on informal occasions, but this seems to perhaps be a regional preference. I’ve had my second home in the South for just about 10 years. The first time I attempted to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork, I received many quizzical looks. I cannot recall if I’ve been served fried chicken at a formal dinner.
Corn On The Cob: Finger food.
Sandwiches: Small sandwiches may be eaten from the fingers, but large, high stacked sandwiches would be better eaten with a knife and fork. Imagine how big your mouth would have to be opened if you tried to fit a triple-decker club sandwich into it and how you would feel if someone snapped a picture at that moment. (Gracious!)
Olives and celery: Finger foods. Just a gentle reminder not to stick the olives on the ends of your fingers and nibble on them thoughtfully. I admits that I did this as a child (and with great glee) but once one reaches the age of ten or so, it is no longer appropriate (alas).
People seem confused about how to eat asparagus and ask me over and over about them and also because we Hooper-Bracketts like to eat them here at the estate. There’s no need to be intimidated by this dish.
The artichoke is a study in contrasting textures. You have the tender leaves, the inedible fuzzy ‘choke’ and finally the soft heart. Did you know that the artichoke is in the thistle family? When we cook it and eat it, it is an immature thistle bud. Here is the artichoke in all of its blooming glory:
But as we are not interested in growing it…let’s get back to consuming it.
When you are served an artichoke, you must remember that it is a finger food. You pull the leaves off (one at a time), dip the meaty base into the sauce that is served with the artichoke (usually a hollandaise or a lemon butter) and then pull the leaf through your teeth to scrape off the end dipped in sauce. You would then place the inedible part of the leaf on the side of your plate. (Be neat!) You will proceed with each leaf in this fashion until you reach the center where you will find the fuzzy ‘choke’. Remove this fuzzy layer with a spoon, but don’t scrape too deeply…you want to keep the best part intact: The heart. You may cut heart into small bits and dip in the sauce.