The other day we asked some friends over for dinner who asked what they could bring. I was going to suggest they bring the entrée but remembered how the last time we’d been to their place; we were served a beautiful cheese platter as an appetiser before dinner? It was irresistibly fine cheese, I ate too much and regretted it even while I was eating. It led me, not for the first time, to wonder why people in Australia, and the US, serve cheese as an appetiser when it can completely ruin our appetite for the rest of the meal?
In France, cheese is served after the main meal before the dessert. Food follows wine in France and given that most main meals are served with red wine, cheese follows the main meal accompanied with any leftover wine. Dessert is served after with dessert wine.
In the UK, cheese follows dessert, a practice that originated from ladies retiring from the dinner table after dessert, leaving the men to continue with cheese, cigars, and fortified wine. It was great practice for women to maintain their waistlines.
For various reasons, serving cheese after the main meal makes much more sense than serving it before. Think about it; you arrive at someone’s house ready for dinner, perhaps having saved space in your tummy ready for a good feed. You’re hungry, you see the cheese platter, and the next thing you know you’ve scarfed down a more-than-generous amount of cheese and with that about 300 calories. Next comes the main meal and it would be bad manners not to eat that.
When cheese is served at the end of the meal, it’s not bad manners to refuse it if you’ve eaten enough already, but it’s hard to resist at the start of the meal when you’re hungry.
Nutritionally cheese is not all bad. It’s a great source of calcium, fat, and protein. It also contains high amounts of vitamins A and B-12, along with zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. HOWEVER, anyone who wants to lose weight, even those following the keto diet, knows they must moderate their cheese intake because cheese is extremely high in fat, calories, and carbs. It is also high in saturated fat and salt which can raise LDL cholesterol, increase blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart disease.
Foods which are high in fat and salt are morish; we want to eat more and more of them. Chocolate falls into the same category and both are better to enjoy in moderation.
If you want to give yourself a fighting chance to succeed at weight loss don’t put yourself in front of a cheese platter before the main meal. The main meal is likely to be nutritious and satisfying. It will probably include protein and veggies and will hopefully fill you up sufficiently to have the strength to say when presented with the cheese platter: ….
“Not for me thanks I am full” or “I’ll just try a small piece”
Next time you host a dinner party, don’t serve the cheese as an appetiser before the meal. Offer nuts and olives with pre-dinner drinks, and if you really want to serve cheese, serve it after the main meal.