Do You Ever Eat Dinner In Courses?

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I recently took a trip to Italy and I couldn't get enough of the delicious pasta, burrata, espresso, and the many other amazing classics of Italian cuisine. But while eating out, I noticed something. While I ordered an appetizer and maybe a pasta dish at dinner, the rest of my Italian friends always ordered more. As in three full courses, sometimes four. I looked like the odd American out by comparison.

At home, I typically cook two courses and maybe three if I'm hosting a dinner party. I love the idea of having several more courses, but more courses require more planning, more dishes, and more of my time that's already so sparse.

When eating out, it's rare that I eat more than two courses at a restaurant in New York City. The entree portions are usually large enough to satisfy on their own, and sometimes I even have leftovers. Yes, America is the land of super-sized portions, but I'm not typically eating at McDonald's or hearty restaurants designed to satisfy lumberjack-sized appetites. It's not that I don't eat much, either, but many American restaurants just don't calibrate their portion sizes for dinners of multiple courses.

In Italy, everyone at every dinner ordered starters to share, an appetizer, a first course (pasta) and a second course (meat or fish). And then dessert! No one had trouble finishing their dishes and it's important to point out that the meals lingered on at a slow pace as well. The long dinner is a storied Italian tradition, but I couldn't help but wonder how it could translate to American dining.

What about you — do you eat in courses or do you prefer a quick entree and maybe a dessert if there's time?

(Image credits: Leela Cyd)