Ser­vice à la française

Country Life Every Week - - Focus -

Din­ner in the 18th cen­tury was served à la française, with all the dishes placed on the ta­ble and din­ers help­ing them­selves and each other (Fig 8). Dishes, plates and cut­lery were changed as the cour­ses pro­gressed and, at the grand­est houses, where ev­ery­thing was eaten or served from and with sil­ver, huge quan­ti­ties of plate were re­quired.

Com­plex ta­ble plans were pro­duced to help with the man­age­ment of the meal; in 1726, a Swiss vis­i­tor to Lon­don, César de Saus­sure, de­scribed the scene: ‘Their ta­bles are abun­dantly and mag­nif­i­cently spread… the linen is very white, the plate shines brightly, the knives and forks are changed sur­pris­ingly of­ten, that is to say, ev­ery time a plate is re­moved.

‘When every­one is done eat­ing, the ta­ble is cleared, the cloth even be­ing re­moved, and a bot­tle of wine with a glass for each guest is placed on the ta­ble.’

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