I agree, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve gone to dinner with people and they have that as a first course for the table, them move on to steaks or burgers.
Its interesting - here in Australia when you visit someones house it’s pretty common to offer quite an expansive range of cheese, cold meats, dried fruit, nuts etc with drinks before a meal. I am always a bit thrown by this - should I save myself for the meal, or is this part of the meal and I will be hungry unless I partake…?
Not certain where the tradition comes from but when I was growing up in the UK my mum made cocktail snacks which included bits of cheese and pineapple or cocktail onions on cocktail sticks but usually only served drinks parties (the cheese and pineapple hedgehog was a work of art when the loaded cocktail sticks were stuck into a half grapefruit).
I always wonder if the Australian tradition originally came from the UK heritage and was added to by the food culture influence of all the Greek/Italian migrants in the 1950’s
Mum was the same with this for drinks parties. I suspect Fanny Craddock was to blame for it.
I kind of think it started in the 'forties and 'fifties when an ‘elegant evening’ began with cocktails before dinner and the heavy starters helped with the alcohol load. But this info comes from watching movies. By the time I attended a party the evening started and ended with wine.
Thanks for the photo. Brings back memories, although I don’t recall Mum ever doing a face on one
As Phil indicated the more “sophisticated” version was the cheese and cocktail onion one.
A couple of years ago we had dinner in a traditional Portuguese restaurant in Lisbon with some Portuguese friends. When we sat down, there were several plates on the table with rounds of Portuguese cheeses on them. Our friends explained to us that the cheeses were there as appetizers. And if you cut one open, it appeared on the bill.
I’ve fallen for a similar trick in a Lebanese restaurant in London.
A bowl of salad items is already on the table, as you sit down - a lettuce, radishes, whole cucumber, etc. My assumption is that it’s a freebie. It isn’t. I nibbled on literally a couple of radishes & slices of cucumber with my starter. Yep, that’s enough to get you charged for the whole salad.
Well, our Portuguese friends told us in advance that we would have to pay for the cheese if we ate it. I was ready to forget it, but they suggested that we take one. We did. It wasn’t that good. I don’t remember the rest of the meal in that restaurant, but it was not one of the high points of our vist. On the other hand, it had often been visited by some local literary light whose picture was on the walls.
Speaking of cheese courses:
I suspect so. And in the words of Johnnie: “may all your doughnuts look like Fanny’s”
Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallis, died earlier this year.