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How to Choose Side Dishes
A side dish, also sometimes called a side dish, main course, or just a side item, is usually a small food item that is served following the main entree on a serving plate. They are most often smaller in size than the main entrees and larger than the desserts that accompany main courses. They do not have to contain a main course to be served with them. They are most commonly associated with the side orders of restaurants.
While the name may indicate a side dish is to be served next to or after the main course, this is not always the case. In the early years of American eating, a side dish never extended beyond the space between the front door and the table. Meals were often shared with everyone and there was no distinction as to who was expected to bring one dish or another. There is no such distinction today.
Today, in American restaurants, a side dish may be expected to feed a customer before the main entree, and may also be expected to maintain a level of popularity alongside the main entree. They are an opportunity for a server to extend a helping hand. They can come in all shapes and sizes, but they almost always contain some kind of meat. The basic rule of thumb is if it sounds okay to you, it probably is. While the final decision should be left to the person making the food (and depending on your establishment, the owner may make the final determination), there are some broad guidelines that can go a long way toward deciding which side dish will be served.
The first factor that should be taken into consideration is whether the side dishes are meant to be shared. If they are, the server should ask what people want to put on their plates next. For example, most fast food establishments have choices for burger or fries. Some people will want a side dish that complements their meal, while others will simply want something to eat. If the food is meant to be shared, expect to be asked what they would like next, rather than being expected to make the choice.
Another factor to consider is time. What is the typical length of the dining experience for the average family? If the meal is long, more likely than not, side dishes will be expected. However, they need not be the primary focus of the meal, as there is nothing wrong with having a few appetizers or a dessert.
Cost is another factor that goes into deciding which side dishes are served. Naturally, if you have a high disposable budget, you can go all out and have elaborate hors oeuvres. On the other hand, if you are on a very tight budget, simple side dishes will do fine, and in many cases, will even be preferred over fancier foods.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing side dishes is the manner in which they are presented. While some people like their food to look attractive, others are more concerned with how it looks in their mouth. For this latter set of people, it might be more sensible to select a plain dish such as a vegetable, to go with the main dish. On the other hand, if you are looking for a unique way to present your side dishes, you may want to pick up one that is a little more interesting. This could be as simple as adding some interesting herbs, spices, or cheeses to your main dish.
When dining out, it is often difficult to decide what to do with side dishes, as well as what to order when it comes to the main courses. Fortunately, with so many different options on hand, it can be difficult to choose the right one. If you are having a large group, you may want to think about serving appetizers as well as dessert. Even though these dishes can be expensive, they can also be a great way to end a meal, as they allow you to thank your guests for coming and letting you know that you care.