International foods that are great for dinner parties*
So you’ve recently returned from holiday or travelling and you want to host a dinner party with your friends to share some of the delicious exotic foods that you experienced on your travels? Excellent idea, but not all cuisines are suitable for a dinner party scenario.
By nature, the dishes that make the best dinner party food are quick and simple dishes that can be shared and talked over – not pretentious meals that demand you to spend half your time in the kitchen. Dinner parties are as much about the hosting as the food, after all.
But what international cuisines are perfect fodder for a dinner party with friends?
I’m not talking the greasy, American-ised pizzas that pass for Italian food in Pizza Hut, but true Italian pasta and meat that’s loaded with flavour, olive oil and plenty of carbohydrates. Italians practically invented the appetiser and an antipasto plate is so easy to put together. Hit up your local deli for a selection of cured meats, cheeses and olives (and maybe a ‘Nduja sausage spread) and you’re already halfway there. For the main course, meanwhile, fresh pasta with pesto is a simple and elegant enough meal to be cooked and served in minutes, leaving you more time to enjoy your friends (and the wine).
Perhaps the archetypal sharing cuisine. Who hasn’t ordered five or six dishes from the local Chinese takeaway before and shared them amongst friends and family? It’s practically a British rite of passage. You don’t need to order in to make a fanciful and filling Chinese banquet though. Everything from crispy shredded beef to sweet and sour chicken can be made quite simply at home with the right ingredients. You might even consider putting your own spin on these takeaway staples.
Nothing says tear and share like a Greek meal. Greek food is all about succulent Mediterranean flavours and simple, rustic ingredients. Imagine a Sunday roast with more flair and a lot more yoghurt and you’re almost there. Feta cheese and slow-roasted lamb are particular favourites, but just as popular are the Meze sharing platters that often precede a big meal that consist of little more than lots of small bites and a lot of hummus, which itself is very simple to make from scratch.
The ideal cuisine if you have a breakfast bar and offer kitchen bar stools for everyone so they can sit around and pick at the light and fragrant food in front of them – Japanese food is all about clean flavour and small portions. Staples such as sushi, sashimi and ramen noodles are ideal for sharing amongst friends and there’s even a potential added element of fun when you try to convince everyone to use chopsticks.
Of course, there are plenty of other international foods that make wonderful sharing platters – from Mexican and French to Indian and even British. But the above is what I feel represents the easiest, the most eclectic and the most scrumptious selection.