Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

buffet a term which may either indicate a sort of sideboard (usually for the display of silver or other tableware or for the setting out of prepared foods); or tables of food set out for guests to help themselves; or a meal for which such an arrangement has been made; or a refreshment room in a railway station (buffet de la gare in France); or a railway carriage serving refreshments (buffet car).

In France, a buffet garni is a buffet laid out with consideration for artistic as well as gastronomic considerations. Favre (c.1905) supposed that the poet Désaugiers was thinking of one such when he penned the lines:

Aussitôt que la lumière

Vient éclairer mon chevet,

Je commence ma carrière

Par visiter mon buffet.

A chaque mets que je touche

Je me crois l’égal des dieux,

Et ceux qu’épargne ma bouche

Sont dévorés par mes yeux.