In North America (i.e. U.S. and Canada), a typical supper progression is as follows:
- Appetizer (optional)
- Salad or Soup
- Main course (which is called "entree" -- in Europe, "entree" means starter)
- Dessert (pies, ice cream, etc.)
My question: How did we end up this progression? Did we inherit this from the British? The French? Or the early settlers?
The reason I ask is because Italian meal progressions aren't like this at all. There go for the primi, secondi, but typically no dessert (well, if they do choose to have dessert, it's usually something light like fruit; never pies or cakes). Pastries/biscotti are eaten at tea-time.
The Italian progression makes a lot of sense to me. Tea time (around 4-5 pm) is just ideal for a little something before dinner. As for dessert, it doesn't make sense to eat something as heavy as cake or pies after a full meal. For me, eating sweets when one is stuffed takes away from the enjoyment of the sweets. In my own culture, we don't have tea-time, and we don't eat dessert. The main course is the prima donna at supper time, and we don't feel a need to supplement it with anything else.