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Restaurant menus, as we know them today, are a relatively new phenomenon. Food historians tell us they were a "byproduct" of the French Revolution. Before the emergence of the restaurant, a menu had always been a list of all those foods to be served during a particular meal as at a banquet today.
Cookbooks recommended them and chefs in wealthy households composed them, but all the items on the menu were brought to the table in the course of the meal. When ordering from a restaurant menu, the patron therefore made a highly individualistic statement, differentiating him-or herself and his or her bodily complaint from the other eaters and their conditions.
Restaurants had printed menus because they offered their customers a choice of unseen dishes In a restaurant, the ostentations potlatch of baroque expenditure was replaced by the equally conspicuous and significant economy of rationalized calculation.
Spang [Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA] p. This book contains far more information about the origin and history of the menu than can be paraphrased here.
If you need more details please ask your librarian to help you find a copy.
The number of courses, and the number of dishes served at each course, are period and meal dependant. Our research confirms "classic" meals generally offer 4 to 8 courses.
Examples of 12 course menus are rare, perhaps suggesting they are not "standard" at all. Here is how A. Grimod de La Reyniere describes such a meal in his Almanach des gourmands: Some are defined by aspect and mode of preparation Others are defined by their position and function in the sequence Johnson [University of California Press: We have seen that between the sixteenth century and the seventeenth, fewer course came to be served at aristocratic tables.
But their number was far from fixed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
There might also be a visit from some savoury flying saucer or assiette volante, i. The second service comprised of roasts and salads, with the obligatory groses pieces decorating the ends of the table.
In general, these remained untouched, for they were more to please the eye than the appetite and could be anything from a vast mille-feuille to a Nerac terrine, a heap of crayfish or a blue carp.
The third service involved cold pates and entremets, either sweet or savory The final service was our modern dessert, with fruits, compotes, jams, biscuits, macaroons, cheeses, petits fours and sweets as well as ices.
At a large, formal dinner, the first service could contain anything up to a hundred dishes. In general, a colour, either white or brown, predominated This colour consideration became universal in nineteenth-century cooking.
Doubtless, not all the dishes which figured in the five obligatory courses which made up the gala banquets were perfectly executed, nor were they as variet as they should have been.
Nevertheless, there were many of them, if one may judge from the menu of the dinner offered by Mme. Eight important intermediate dishes called broths.
Sixteen entrees of fine meats. Eight roast dishes and sixteen vegetable dishes cooked in meat stock.Access to case studies expires six months after purchase date. Publication Date: October 20, October 20, Browse the WebMD Questions and Answers A-Z library for insights and advice for better health.
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