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Gain Confidence Over Appetizers

Dear Kitchen Therapist,

I have appetizer envy. When I'm invited to others' houses for dinner, they always serve fantastic appetizers. Yet, when I entertain, my mind goes blank. I love appetizers, but by the time I finish planning the main course and dessert, I have no ideas left. I know I shouldn't try to "keep up with the Joneses," but I always feel deficient. Would you have any thoughts on how to approach this problem?

Wanting by Comparison

Dear Wanting,

I wouldn't worry too much about it. In my experience, people are more interested in the alcohol than the food--at least at my parties. If you want to master appetizers, however, you might try an approach I've found to be quite helpful.  It's called "Want-Should-Love."  

Offer one appetizer that people want, but feel guilty about eating. (Make your own choice, but I often serve salty tortilla chips or little meatballs in gravy.) Offer another appetizer that people don't really want, but feel they should eat to counteract their indulgence in the first appetizer. An example might be a nice tzatziki or hummus dip with fresh raw vegetables. Finally, offer an appetizer that you love, whatever others think. You certainly can expand the selection, but if you present these three types of appetizers, most people will be happy and you can focus on the main course and dessert.  

My very best,