Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of home and sometimes technical information. http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge - Now I have two months left to complete my challenge. The beat is on.
Just in time for the holidays to converse on the choice of buffet style dinner party or sitting down formal dinner. Both need a pleasing design, a menu planning and serving strategy. As a designer, I can tell you that formal dining rooms are disappearing from homes. The dining space is now used to make a great room, which includes living and family room in an open space attached to the kitchen. The buffet serving style is more congenial to today’s living. Servants are not necessary, we only need good food and to spend quality time with our guests.
Buffet style food or self-serve style is an invention of less than a 100 years. Food was always consumed sitting down at a table with many servants around attending guests and always ready to fill the wine glass, take away empty plates, or light candles that had blown off. Service à la Française (French style) of the middle 1800’s in the Victorian era is the closest way to buffet style of today, food came out of the kitchen all together in an impressive, but often impractical display and placed on large pieces of furniture that now we call Buffet.
Often food arrived covered with silver domes, but due to the distant location of the kitchen in respect to the dining area, they arrived cold. Guests could admire the beautiful display of food on the table and helped themselves to dishes close by, but had to rely on servants to bring other food or wines and to change plates and cutlery. The table for service à la Française was beautifully made up, generally with a minimum of three-course meal in addition to desserts. Soup and various terrines were on one side of the table, meat and fish on the opposite side, many other specialties in the middle of the table and all sizes and shapes cutleries around the edges of the table. Almost just like we arrange a buffet today.
The host’s duty to carve meats at the buffet table with all that production of food was very challenging. Today, in a buffet style party we would have a cutting station for meats and fish separate from other food.
In the early 19th century Russian Ambassador Alexander Kurakin brought to France the service à la Russe (service in the Russian style), which is the style of dining that involves courses being brought to the table sequentially up to dessert. Before serving desserts the table was cleared out even of breadcrumbs. After desserts guests left the dining table and moved to the living room or sitting room to sip coffee, tea, liqueurs and smoking cigars.
Restaurants have adopted the service à la Russe style as well as people in their home for sitting down dinner parties in those few rare occasions when families get together on important holidays and get to enjoy the formal dining room. Various cultures in history have used some form of bufffet as furniture to serve food from. Usually the bottom part stores tableware and linens and the top part is for displaying appetizers, bottles of wines, desserts, extra flatware and glassware.
Italians like simple lines buffets as in all their home décor. Food is always the main protagonist of our dinner parties and as long as there is food on display, the rest of the décor will disappear in its stylish silence. Ciao,
It’s my hope that through my writing I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspire you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need. Check out my latest book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, available on