In dining, a course is a specific set of food items that are served together during a meal, all at the same time. A course may include multiple dishes or only one, and often includes items with some variety of flavors. For instance, a hamburger served with French fries would be considered a single course, and most likely the entire meal. Likewise, an extended banquet might include many courses, such as a course where a soup is served by itself, a course where cordon bleu is served at the same time as its garnish and perhaps a side dish, and later a dessert such as a pumpkin pie. Courses may vary in size as well as number depending on the culture where the meal takes place.[1]

Meals are composed of one or more courses,[2] which in turn are composed of one or more dishes.

When dishes are served mostly in a single course, this is called service à la française; when dishes are served mostly in separate courses, this is called service à la russe.


The word is derived from the French word cours (run), and came into English in the 14th century.[3] It came to be used perhaps because the food in a banquet serving had to be brought at speed from a remote kitchen – in the 1420 cookbook Du fait de cuisine the word "course" is used interchangeably with the word for serving.[4]

See also

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  1. ^ Edward Giobbi; Eugenia Giobbi Bone (20 October 2005). Italian Family Dining: Recipes, Menus, and Memories of Meals with a Great American Food Family. Rodale. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-59486-126-0. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  2. ^ Andrew F. Smith (1 May 2007). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-0-19-530796-2. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  3. ^ Mark Morton (2004). Cupboard Love 2: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities. Insomniac Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-897415-93-1. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  4. ^ Terence Scully (1995). The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages. Boydell Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-85115-430-5. Retrieved 26 August 2013.