'French service' was generally used up until the 1850's. (This was not what French service is today*)
Under this method, the usually large menu (as many as 32 courses) was brought to the table in 2 or 3 parts, and all of the dishes of each part would be placed on the table at once. Guests would help themselves to each dish, most often in a confused and combative manner, those with the longest arms getting their favorites first. Frequently by the time you got to much of the food, it was no longer hot. Then all of the dishes from that part of the service would be cleared from the table and next part or 'service' would be placed on the table in the same manner.
It was in the 1850's that Russian Service was introduced to France and soon spread to other countries. Russian service is what we use today. Each course is served to each guest individually.
*(Today, so called French service refers to restaurant service where a waiter does the serving of the food onto each guests plate, frequently with tableside preparation, rather than the food being plated in the kitchen).
Russian service was introduced in Russia about 1810 by an ambassador of the Russian czar.
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