How to serve that complicate plates part 1

In French culture, there are rules about how certain foods are to be served at formal occasions. The most difficult dishes to serve are not necessarily the most difficult to enjoy. Serving foie gras, smoked salmon or fish to Parisian guests? In French tradition, there’s special etiquette for serving these dishes. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for the perfect hostess or host…

1.  THE FOIE GRAS
Utensils: serving spoon and fork. When the foie gras is of the highest quality, it should be brought to the table unsliced. Premium foie gras should be so tender that you can serve yourself with just the serving spoon and fork. In principle, two waiters are required to serve foie gras the traditional way. One holds out a ewer filled with boiling water, and a small towel. The other holds out the plate with foie gras and the serving utensils. This could be performed by just one server, providing he/she is a real professional, for it takes dexterity to gracefully handle the ewer, the towel and the foie gras plate all at once. The aim of this system is to allow the guests to serve themselves easily, since foie gras will not stick to a boiling hot spoon. Each guest dips the spoon into the hot water, and then lightly dries it on the towel. Then the guest takes a piece of foie gras from the serving dish, using the spoon and fork. The guest lays the serving utensils on the plate for the next person. If the foie gras is of lessor quality, you cut it into slices thinner than one inch thick and serve it on a bed of gelatin flakes. Use a large serving spoon and fork.

2. LOX
Utensils: Fish serving set. The salmon slices should be spread daintily across the serving dish with a sprig of parsley at each end. Serve with toast or blini. The procedure is the same as for caviar.

3. FISH
Utensils: fish serving set. Poached fish should be served whole, with the head and tail, but with the skin removed. Grilled fish should also be served whole, but with the skin. Decorate each end of the plate with a sprig of parsley, or lettuce, for example. On each side of the fish, put an assortment of vegetables. Seek an appetizing mix of colors.

© Pictures: front page istock

Isabelle - Spotlight

Bonjour, my name is Isabelle. At my parent’s, a week didn’t go by without a social gathering. It may have been a garden-party, a bridge party or a diner dance. No caterers, of course, everything was homemade! With my sisters, we learned how to put different spreads on toast, the right way of course, arrange the flowers for the tables or decorate the buffet, to say the right thing to each guest or organize an elegant picnic. As appropriate, I learned etiquette during these receptions and also had “savoir-vivre” lessons. Today, I work in public relations in Paris and the education that I received is of great use. I’ll give you several very Parisian tips…

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