When we have friends around for dinner, I used to believe it was all very relaxed and informal and didn’t particularly follow any set rules. We go out of our way to be unpretentious, to make our guests feel welcome, to be generous with the booze. Of course when you think of it, this is clearly untrue, there are lots of rules to follow – bread plates on the left, glasses on the right, aperitif first, then chilled white wine, then red. Cheese afterwards never before, and so on.

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