No De-Appetizers

How much better...if we would provide our guests with long evenings of nothing but sound wine, good food, and fit company. Try it sometime...More important still, no dips, no crackers, no de-appetizers at all.
— Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb

Yesterday afternoon I started to notice the wheels spinning in my head about whether to serve appetizers for our small Thanksgiving celebration with friends. It’s always the same back-and-forth dance between two different desires. One is that I want my guests to have that same feeling of provision and welcome I feel when I am a guest at someone’s house and they have taken care to concern themselves with appetizers. Even if I only take a bite or two, so as not to spoil my dinner, it still feels nice to have the option to eat before eating.

The second desire is that I don’t want to manage my own kids and their eating of appetizers. What kid won’t eat crackers till you make them stop? What kid will stop scooping gobs of guacamole without being reminded? And what mom can really keep on eye on everyone’s eating all the time?

With Thanksgiving especially, it feels like part of the enjoyment of the gigantic meal is that we go to it hungry, not having our hunger sated from snacks an hour before. Yet, I imagine that hour or two of dads deep-frying the turkey, letting it sit, and carving it; the kids playing with the chickens, stopping inside to check the football game, going back out for their own football game; the moms talking and talking and talking….and finishing up the sides. And I think that having food out on the counter, for people to nibble here and there, just feels right.


Yesterday, I brainstormed with TJ on appetizers we could serve from what we have on hand, rather than go back to the store in pursuit of perfection. In a moment of insight, I realized one solution to my dilemma is to make fancy-enough appetizers that the kids won't care about them anyway. That might be my strategy next time, or it might be that “Hunger is the best sauce.”


Today I hope to strike a balance between the two: veggies and hummus, crackers and cheese, and bacon-wrapped dates. A little plain, a little fancy. De-appetizers, perhaps, in Capon’s mind, but he’s also the one who pointed out that we shouldn’t eat stingily. Happy Thanksgiving!