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Jan 13, 2003 02:55 PM

Salad After the Entree

  • s

Does anyone know in which European countries the practice of serving the salad after the entree is common? Do some of the fancy restaurants in the US do this?


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  1. Italy, for one, although, as a tourist, unless you specify otherwise, they'll likely bring it to you before.

    1. It's the norm on the Continent, and makes sense because the normally acidic nature of salad dressing (either wine/vinegar-based or fruit-juice based) helps cleanse the palate from the main course.

      I imagine any US restaurant would be happy to honor a request to serve a salad after the main course if you specify it at the time of ordering.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl S.

        Thanks Karl. So, the UK and Ireland don't follow this practice?

      2. I don't know about the rest of Europe, but this is definitely done in France. Some people think there are some health benefits to having an unsaturated fat (olive oil on the salad) after the meal, and that this is a healthier way of eating. The French just do this because it is their way, and appeals to their palates. I happen to enjoy eating salad afterwards, myself. A typical French meal (in a household that has a servant or a very ambitious cook) goes in this order:

        aperitifs, probably not at the table. After the you sit down:

        Fish course, with appropriate wine
        Meat or poultry course, with a different wine
        Cheese course
        Coffee, and possibly chocolates, sometimes away from table.

        Even fancier households and restaurants have additional courses. I've seen a shellfish course in between soup and fish. I've also seen a separate vegetable course, in addition to any accompaniment vegetables, after the meat or poultry course. I'm sure there are additional courses at the very fanciest events. There is often a sorbet/ice course after the meat course, too. But I've never seen a "proper" French restaurant or home meal that had salad before the main course.

        Also, don't call it an entree in French -- that means a first course, not like a main course as it does in America. I've heard that some French have adopted the American/English meaning, but I just avoid the word to lessen any confusion.

        A nice, light, but strong-flavored salad is a good palate cleanser after a heavy meat course. Also, that slight vinegary flavor you have in your mouth gets you all ready for the cheese course.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mrs. Smith

          "Also, don't call it an entree in French -- that means a first course"

          Oops, I knew that, at least in theory. In practice it's an entirely different matter. ;-)

          I really wish other countries wouldn't adapt to American tastes and customs. I know they do this in fear of losing tourist dollars, but IMHO those who insist on having things like they are "back home" should just stay home. (If you wish to respond to this rant, please do it on the Not About Food board so the moderators aren't forced to yell at me.)

          1. re: Mrs. Smith

            Agree with you, Mrs. Smith. In France I was always served salad after the main course - in restaurants and in friends' homes. I like salad after a meal but can't get used to eating various cheeses and bread after the salad. I find cheese too heavy after a meal but then again French portions are not as huge as in the U.S.

          2. My experience in Spain is that they serve the salad first.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ironmom

              Hmmm ... after reading the observation posted below, I'm wondering if that's their custom or if they knew you were an American tourist?

              Guess I need to find a way to research this.

              1. re: ironmom

                My experience back in 1990 in SPain is that this varied depending on whether you got the tourist course meal, or not.

                1. re: Karl S.

                  I didn't order any tourist meals. I always ordered typical Spanish dishes (platos típicos) from the la carte menu. In Galicia, where I was, the tourists were all European. The restaurants had salads listed in the appetizer section, separate from the main courses. My experience with regular food (home and everyday restaurants) there is that the standard Spanish menu involves bread, an appetizer, which may be a salad, a main course, and dessert. Plus wine and coffee.

                  I didn't order any set menus at all. Perhaps when you order a pricy multi-course menu (in the sort of restaurant that serves that), they do not serve it Spanish style, as such a menu is not typically Spanish.

                  Maybe it's a regional thing, I was only in Galicia.

                  1. re: ironmom

                    That formula -- bread, app which may be salad, main course, dessert, etc. -- is typical of less formal French restos as well.

                2. re: ironmom

                  Mine too. And it had nothing to do with tourists. This was some time ago; maybe they've Frenchified since then.

                  1. re: aromatherapy

                    Maybe it has to do with going to * restaurants, which I did not do. There was one I tried to seek out, but didn't find, maybe it had moved?

                    The only 4* restaurant listed in the city guide I picked up (mind you, this is in Spanish) was in the grand hotel in town. Before checking it out, I asked the people in my group with experience, and they weren't sure it was worth trying. And these were people who are easily impressed. I had a drink on the terrace to scope it out and ordered an appetizer. The drink was great, if overpriced. The food sucked, no other way to describe it. I can't imagine what criteria the rating was based on.

                3. Many of the fine restaurants in England and Scotland serve salads after the main course. Some of the "new English" places do not.