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Traditional French Palate Cleansers

The Basics of Refreshing Your Palate Between Courses


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Palate cleansers, by nature, are used in the middle of a meal to remove lingering flavors from the mouth so that the next course may be enjoyed with a fresh perspective. The French also use them as an all-important digestive, to avoid heartburn, indigestion, and to stimulate the appetite.

There is not much written instruction on the art of palate cleansing during a sumptuous, multi-course French meal. It has become something of a prized tradition, passed from generation to generation in the local enclaves of France. Each region has a special ingredient, usually a locally produced product that the locals swear by.

Traditional palate cleansers:

Le Trou Normand

In Normandy, locals rely on apple brandy as a digestive.Le trou Normand, or the Norman break, is a fiery shot of Calvados right in the middle of the meal.

It hits hard and fast, yet is inexplicably effective as a palate cleanser and appetite stimulant.It’s yet to be determined whether it has as successful an astringent property on one’s palate as it does one’s wits – but either way, it does work.

Unorthodox palate cleansers:

  • Sparkling water, with or without a twist of citrus
  • Lightly brewed green, black, or mint tea, with minimal sweetener
  • Celery sticks or fresh tart apples
  • A sprig of parsley
  • Flat water with a twist of citrus

When choosing a palate cleanser, look for something with a clean, bright flavor that leaves little or no aftertaste. Neutral flavors usually work best for this purpose, but a menu with strongly flavored dishes begs for a unique - and perhaps equally bold - palate cleanser. Experiment with your own menus and soon you’ll know enough to impress your friends and family with your culinary ingenuity!

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