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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Assiette on French Menus. Ten of the Many Popular Quickly Prepared Dishes on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Even two plates do not make a real gourmet dish.
An assiette is a plate, and on your menu it will be a pre-prepared dish offering quickly prepared fresh dishes as entrees, side dishes and cheese and fruit dishes. All these plates will be made with familiar ingredients and they allow the chef to spend more time on more ambitious main dishes as not all the restaurant specialties may be passed to the sous-chef to prepare.
A plate or dish. On a menu this may be anything from a simple dish of cold meats or a festive creation served as a work of art.
 Assiette Anglais - A plate of cold meats in the manner of the English. This name may date back to the Napoleonic wars!  Then the British soldiers were fed beef,  but after the first day, the same dish was provided cold.    
Assiette de Charcuterie – A plate of cold meats, cold cuts. Charcuterie-Traiteurs are France’s delicatessens.

A single counter in a large Charcuterie-Traiteur.
 Assiette de Frites - A plate of French-fried, potatoes, in the UK, a plate of chips.  In North America and the UK a plate of locally made French fries is rarely as tasty as a French “assiette de frites”. For some reason, only the French, Belgians, Swiss and most of the Dutch can consistently  make excellent French-fried potatoes. Nevertheless, to give credit, where credit is due, the Belgians were the force behind the original French fries.
Assiette de Fromage A cheese plate.  This indicates a plate with a pre-selected group of cheeses; usually, three or four different cheeses. Small restaurants may offer a limited selection of ripe cheeses rather than offering ten or more cheeses on a cheese board or trolley.  Keeping perfectly ripe cheeses available is very expensive and limiting the selection allows the restaurant to keep their costs down.

A cheese plate.
Assiette des Fruits et des Sorbets de Saison – An assortment of fresh fruits and sorbets made with the fresh fruits of the season.
     Assiette de Jambon de Pays - A plate of locally cured ham.
Assiette du Pêcheur - A fisherman's platter. This may be a mixed assortment of little fish or a large platter with fish, crustaceans and more, best to ask.

A fisherman’s platter.
Assiette de Saumon Frais MarinéA plate of freshly marinated salmon.  When well prepared I believe that marinated fresh salmon competes with the finest smoked salmon as the best way to serve cured salmon. 

Assiette Fitness -  A low-calorie dish.

My view of a low-calorie dish.
Assiette GourmandeOn a menu, this indicates a plate designed for gourmands; for lovers of good food. It should be something very special; not just something expensive or a heaped platter.  If this is on the menu without any detail, then, it is best to ask what this dish consists of. When you are offered, rarely seen dishes, and unique ingredients….only then go for it.
Assiette Valaisanne – A dish originating in the Swiss Canton of Valais; just across the border from the department of Haute-Savoie, France. This is a plate of assorted Valaisanne dried meats, cured ham and bacon, along with assorted cheeses; it is usually served with cornichons and brown or rye bread.

Assiette Valaisanne
Photograph courtesy of jo672.
There will be other “assiettes” on the menu, but the ten above present an idea of how an "assiette" may be served.
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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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