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Jan 2011

Game Night 2011: Small Is Delicious

Is it just me, or did this recent transition from one year to the next come with a larger-than-usual dose of year-end lists? Both of the looking-back-on-what-happened this past year and the ever popular crystal-ball-gaze toward what the coming year may hold. And food trends certainly stand out as one of the most popular themes that get scrutinized at year’s end. I maxed out pretty quickly, but was thrilled when a friend posted a link to this year-end list to beat all year-end lists. Absolute brilliance.

Early on in this parade of year-end musings, I came across one trend note from 2010 that I could actually get behind. Among the “hot food fads for 2010” that Parade Magazinecited back in November was this one at #2: “the incredible shrinking dinner party.”  They referenced that the small-plates movement has moved from restaurant menus to home dinner tables, evidenced in large part by the increasing availability of serving pieces and dishes that are tailored for mini-portioned foods. They mention the individual Le Creuset pots (like this one I’ve got, about 1 cup capacity), Staub bakeware, an array of mini porcelain dishes (such as these oval dishes) and “shot glasses for soups or deep spoons for slurping up a single dumpling.” Hmmmm, that sounds familiar. Part of my mantra in Gourmet Game Night is that it’s not just the recipes that make food game-friendly, but also the serving pieces. Soup served in a shot glass or espresso cup takes up a ton less dinner-table real estate than does a traditional soup bowl. And serving salads or small portions of meat on an Asian porcelain soup spoon eliminates the need for a fork and lets your guests eat very well, very easily.

So I’m fully behind the incredible shrinking dinner party. Not only does the array of small dishes like those above (not to mention the fun and diverse selection of picks and skewers that also make small portions super game-friendly to enjoy, check out the offerings here at Pick On Us) allow guests to enjoy a smaller sampling of a greater variety of items tapas-style. It also is a healthy, sensible way to eat. Instead of sitting down to a big dinner plate full of food that you eat in quick order, this game-night setting of smaller portions is enjoyed over the course of a couple of hours. The game play naturally helps folks pace themselves–a few meatballs and a mini salad one moment, a small dose of soup and baby sandwich half an hour later–and are far less likely to get over-stuffed.

Here’s to taking that 2010 trend and blazing forward into 2011 with lots of fun and delicious game nights that celebrate how delicious small can be.