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Note: This edition of Entertaining Six or Eight has been updated to include Metric equivalents.
The secret of successful entertaining is to enjoy your own parties. Entertaining should be as much fun for the hostess as it is for the guests—and if you plan carefully, adapting your plans to the special conditions of your home, everything is bound to run along smoothly and result in a wonderful time for everybody—including you.
Some people seem to be born with a knack for entertaining. Good food appears at their parties as if by magic, the guests are relaxed and conversation flourishes. You may be sure, however, that none of this just “happens.” The food appears because someone has prepared it; the guests are relaxed because their hostess feels no strain; conversation flows because the hostess is on hand to help it along and not coping with a crisis in the kitchen. And all of this means that she has planned carefully. She has planned a menu that requires a minimum of attention after the guests arrive, planned and arranged all the details of service, readied the china, linen, glassware and silverware, arranged the flowers and other accessories, set out all the little appurtenances of comfort—coasters, ash trays, matches, cigarettes. She probably has planned her guest list, too, inviting only persons who will be congenial. And if she is the completely thoughtful hostess, her menu has been planned with due regard for the food likes and dislikes of her guests.
In planning a company menu it is wise to follow the same principles that guide all menu-making. Avoid repetition of foods in the same meal—if fish is the appetizer do not use it for the main dish. Maintain a balance between firm and soft foods. Do not serve too many starches (rice, potatoes and bread at the same meal are not good planning) or too much of any other single food stuff. Avoid a crowd of strong flavors—flavors should harmonize or contrast but not compete. Plan meals with an eye to the over-all arrangement, varying the foods in color, texture and flavor. Include something sweet and something tart, something hot and something cold in every meal. Delight guests with an occasional surprise, but try out the new recipe on the family first.
A valuable feature of this book is the introductory material to be found before each section. These introductions outline the “know-how” of table setting and service that will enable you to do your planning effectively—and with the comfortable assurance of being correct.