Canny readers may have uncovered something of a contradiction between this last post and some of last week’s posts on Antonin Carême. Specifically, that Carême spent his entire early career fashioning giant pastries for the centers of service à la française tables. So if grand pastries were a fixture of dessert services in those days, how could the pastry course that service à la russe made possible be considered any different? The answer is that the grand pastries that adorned the dining tables of pre-revolutionary French aristocrats weren’t actually meant to be eaten. They were purely decorative.