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Is it okay not to serve dessert at a dinner party?

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The question

Recently, we were at a dinner where the hosts didn't serve dessert. In fact, they didn't even say anything about it. After the main course, everybody (there were eight guests, plus the hosts) just got up and dispersed. The 'party' then went on for another threehours. Is this not really strange?

The answer:

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Have you seen The Untouchables, that 1987 movie in which Kevin Costner doesn't mouthbreathe and Robert De Niro's Al Capone clubs a dinner guest to death at the table with a baseball bat? A dinner-table clubbing would be a good reason not to serve dessert. So would a house fire (with fatalities) or a mass case of sudden-onset Norwalk virus (and even then … ). A dinner party without even the pretense of an ending – without some simple cookies or cheese, at the very minimum some ripe fruit and nuts – is unfinished business, a letter sent half-written and unsigned. With a bit of luck, your friends aren't undergrads or pyschopaths, but mere garden-variety crappy dinner hosts. Still, you're best to bring a bag of Fudgee-Os and a helmet next time.

Follow food writer Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail

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