Main course

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A main course is the featured or primary dish in a meal consisting of several courses (a full course dinner can consist of ten or even twelve courses). In North American English, the main course can also be called the entrée; however, in some menus the main course follows the entrée, or entry, course, and the salad course. It is sometimes called the meat course.

The main course is usually the heaviest, heartiest, and most complex or substantive dish on a menu. The main ingredient is usually meat, fish or fowl; in vegetarian meals, the main course sometimes attempts to mimic a meat course.

In formal dining, a well-planned main course can function as a sort of gastronomic apex or climax. In such a scheme, the preceding courses are designed to prepare for and lead up to the main course in such a way that the main course is anticipated and, when the scheme is successful, increased in its ability to satisfy and delight the diner, with the courses following the main course acting as a sort of denouement or anticlimax, calming both the palate and the stomach.

It is most often preceded by a starter or a salad, and followed by a dessert. Formal meals can consist of many more courses.

Main course

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