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Cheese or pudding first??

October 2, 2012

in Friendship, Home, Personal, Two of us

Charles has just been to France. One of the results is he has waved a flag for an old, not quite resolved tension. Which is: pudding or cheese first??

Understand: pudding is for guests and on normal days cheese is an optional extra for the greedy or still, somehow, peckish after the main (=only) course. This is an eating with friends issue.

We cheerfully had our cheese last with friends until one of them, one fateful and dreadful day (or, rather, evening) demanded his cheese before the pudding: in our house.

This went down badly me with me. For many reasons, the biggest of which might have been being told what to do. But I am on the English side. See the Guardian and Telegraph, noting with interest the wonderful way in which the Guardian does dessert (which I must admit I  thought was only served at a Little Chef) and the Telegraph, pudding. (on reflection I also associate dessert with loads of sugariness and artificiality, pudding with a good, home made err… pudding..)

Thereafter I ceased to offer the delinquent cheese demanding guest any cheese at all. And his sensitive, tactful wife serves them as near simultaneously as is possible.

But there are mutterings in this house from the Francophile husband. (sigh) Not big mutterings, just murmurs of discontent. He knows that the biggest issue for me is actually that I like to reach the point in the meal when anxiety gives over to pure pleasure, and that is not really until the pudding is served and is satisfactory. Having served my mother in law Apple Crumble Porridge one awful time, you may understand. (Someone put it in the oven with a lid on)

And as Charles loves my puddings he is likely to sit on this one in deference to the pudding making. But he’s not happy. And I’m not going French.

What to do? Maybe time to revive the old English savoury??

Cheeses - when will they be eaten..


Petra Hoyer Millar October 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

That’s easy. Not a fan of cheese after a meal, so just the pud for me…..!!!

anne October 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm


Maggie October 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I don’t understand you lot.
How can you go with a savoury palate for main course, then a sweet palate for puddings, then go back to a savoury palate for cheese. it makes no sense at all. Specially when you have wine left over from your main course that you can happily finish with your cheese, before your pudding wine with your pud.. But that’s just us Herefordshire Plebs opinion ….

anne October 4, 2012 at 12:23 am

Well, I don’t know. Interesting theoretical issue but I’ve never found that the slightest problem. Maybe that’s what drinking water with a meal too does? Cleanses the palate?? Maybe some of us have insensitive palates?? Maybe savoury and sweet are rather crude categories which don’t actually live in a descending order in relation to each other and possible other aspects of taste? Don’t know.

Maybe we should experiment seriously with what we can follow what with happily and what makes us fall over in disgust?

anne October 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

O, and wasn’t it you who pointed out the traditional Wensleydale with apple pie combination?? XXXXX

Sacha October 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

The French eat cheese before pudding because they like to have it with red wine. They complement each other. French wine growers say “sell on cheese and buy on an apple”. Having the pudding last is a good reason to open another bottle of something, too! And dessert is fruit in (old fashioned) England, hence dessert apples etc. whereas in France it’s ‘desssairrrr” and is the – er – sweet course! But in your own house you do as YOU choose and nobody should suggest you change it for them! Bonne chance!

anne October 4, 2012 at 12:34 am

Need to think about this one. How does it fit with the Telegraph and Guardian accounts? Must check back. Interesting..esp re dessert.. (meaning has been changed a little I see)

anne October 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Sacha – this elaborates your response I think? =
and Wikipedia takes the dessert term further back still =
I’ll be pondering calling pudding a ‘sweet’ next….(those always came by the quarter in a triangular paper bag….)

Tzipporah October 2, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Here in America, cheese is almost always an appetizer before the main course, but I realize we’re barbarians. I’m pretty sure if he could get away with it, my husband would demand dessert (“pudding”) and cheese both before and after every meal. And my six year old does indeed demand “treats” at all times of the day and night. Good thing we women are keeping the courses in order! 😉

anne October 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Wonderful – and how different! Keep them in order, definitely, you clearly need to…

Goes off to eat cheese….

Charles October 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

This one made me laugh lots. I really wasn’t intending to open up The Issue Of The Order of The Cheese. I was simply reporting that WHEN WE WERE IN FRANCE, I was quite happy having the cheese before the pudding. Interestingly we didn’t always get offered the cheese course as part of our set menu but we always had a pud. One night I asked for the cheese, and made it clear that I expected to be charged extra. We stuffed in and they never put it on the bill. Which made me wonder if by law you are entitled to the cheese course in France. But I digress. Relax. I understand and am in perfect harmony with you. But if we go to France please don’t ask for your pudding first.

anne October 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Wonder how you’ll persuade me to go to France with you????? XXXXX

Annoné Butler October 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I do not see why we have to adopt the French practice. I serve it last. Particularly if I have made a nice pud and want guests to eat that rather than fill up
with cheese! So, Vive La Difference!

anne October 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Exactly – re them enjoying the pudding properly. And it being served with some ceremony too, not just bunged down amid the cheese and stuff…

John October 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm

First of all if you are a guest in someone’s home, simple courtesy demands that you fall in with their programme, so your cheesy guest was out of order. When in wherever you do as the whereverians do.

That said, my view is if there’s a pudding/dessert/sweet plus a cheeseboard, then the latter follows the former, not at the same time. Coffee and whatever (mints or petit fours) follows the cheeseboard.

If the French do it differently, then fine. When in France do as the French do. If different peoples didn’t differ then travel would become so boring! Just as if everyone here followed the same dinner pattern, visiting friends would become less interesting.

anne October 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Well having friends visit gets very interesting when they demand their cheese!

Adam Hodge October 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

How about some meals cheese first, some meals Pud first ! Simples !
[The french only have a few toothfuls of cheese, not another full course as the English end up making it.]

anne October 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

O, yes, I fancy offering a few French slivers, sans anything else before pudding.. (Think maybe some people are not as Francophile as they pretend…)

Charles October 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

You say that. Not when I am at the cheeseboard. In Nasbinlas we were offered the most wonderful cheeseboard I have ever seen. It prompted me to ask of the Patron what the etiquette was for selecting ones choice. In particular was there an understanding about the number of cheeses one would choose. He extravagantly insisted that it would be quite alright if I wanted 20. I asked for 6 and felt very deliquent nevertheless.

anne October 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm

He was doing a polite LIE!

Adam October 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

…some interesting reading on the subject. Judging by the first line in the paragraph’ Cheese course etiquette’ it seems not conclusive wether it is served before or after dessert !

anne October 7, 2012 at 12:01 am

Thanks for that, Adam – it really clears it up, doesn’t it?? Apologies if it’s taken a while to approve… XXXXX

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