Being at the top of your game as a party host means you know how to make the big picture come to life, and every fine detail is sorted out. Whether it’s the food, the coat room, or having back-up ice, your guests should be able to have fun and instinctively do everything exactly how you planned. Which is why you should be serving an empty pit bowl with your meat and cheese boards.
It may seem unnecessary (or just plain wrong) to present an empty bowl among the bountiful platters of fruit, cheese, antipasti, and sliced meats, but it’s the same idea as getting an extra bowl with your hot wings or mussels at a restaurant: You need a place to put the unwanted debris. It clears up your plate from shells and bones, so you can focus on the active roster of edible morsels, and it’s makes for an overall more organized experience.
The pit bowl can be for olive pits, but it’s more of a general discard bowl. It can be as small as a spice dish, a ramekin, or a soup bowl, just plan for a little more space than you think you need. There are always unexpected scraps that pop-up during a party, like stone fruit pits, cores, stems, hulls, or toothpicks. If you don’t offer this bowl along with your meat and cheese board, you risk all of this detritus ending up in strange places, like rolled up in abandoned napkins on the window sill, end table, or on the bar. Some guests might feel compelled to make frequent trips to the kitchen trash, which means they’re not as relaxed, and, more importantly, they’re getting in your way as you prepare other snacks.
The discard bowl will allow your friends to stay in their conversations, keep a fresh-looking platter, and make clean up easier for you later. The worst possible result of lacking a pit bowl is guests might just leave the stems, rinds, or pits right on the half-full board. Help them help you.
Be a real hero and avoid confusion by eating a little bit of the party spread before your guests arrive and put some pits or toothpicks in the bowl to signal what it’s for. Empty it periodically during the party by casually swooping in with a fresh empty bowl.
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