Brought to you by our friends at Historic Foods, this excerpt not only traces the development of the "dessert" and "fruit" courses at the end of a meal, but also illuminates the etymology of the words themselves. Like all the best English words, they're French. Naturellement!
"The Court Dessert in Eighteenth Century France"
"The elaborate dessert course of the eighteenth century was a direct descendant of the voidée, a court ritual of the medieval period, when the sovereign rose at the end of the meal to consume sugared anise and carraway seeds (dragées) and spiced wine (hippocras). As well as these medicinal aids to royal digestion, he also ate a wafer (gaufre) with the sweet wine, as a eucharist-like thanksgiving. After washing his hands the king then left the table, which was cleared. Both the verbs voider and desservir mean to clear the table - so dessert is a later synonym for voidée. However, in the eighteenth century the word dessert was considered to be a bourgeois term, the correct name at court for this final service of the meal being 'fruit'."
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