What the Heck is Sorbet?

For those of you who did not go to finishing school or a women’s college so steeped in traditions ranging so far back into its history when it was a finishing school, here is a post about some of that fancy stuff they serve at fancy dinners.  The fancy stuff in question is sorbet.  Sorbet is sort of a mix between Italian ice and sherbet.  Quite frankly, here it the States I am surprised by how many people actually think that sorbet and sherbet are the same thing.  When I hear this, I want nothing more than to do this.

Sorbet, unlike sherbet, but like Italian ice, does not contain dairy products.  Yes! My vegan friends rejoice this desert has no dairy in it.  I have several vegan friends and some of them do not think they can eat it.  However, be careful about what you wish for.  Some it may contain alcohol.  Why? Well, you can make it at home with water, sugar, and fruit juice.  A more common way is to substitute the fruit juice for liquer or wine.  This is because the flavours of liquer and wine are stronger and you do not have to add as much to the food to get the flavour you want.  Keep in mind that since you are not cooking it, the alcohol remains in it.  Minors may not be able to eat it in that case.  Store purchased sorbets do not have this problem as they use fruit juices rather than liquers.

Why serve it at fancy meals though?  What is the purpose of that?  It is used to clean the pallet for the next course in the meal.  That is why it is very uncommon to find sorbet served in restaurants that do not have multicourse meals.  Where I went to college each suite of each dorm had a formal dinner.  This tradition is apparently a remnant of when it was a private school for girls and the last years spent were effectively a finishing school since women did not usually go to college or university when it opened.  We got to pick out what sorbet flavour we wanted served.  The dry campus meant that it was made with fruit juice, but as most of us were underage it was not really an issue.  The texture is creamy, but slightly rough.  This means that it has enough texture that it can remove particles from your previous course while you are eating it, but is smooth enough and has so few ingredients that will stick that it does not leave behind particles of its own.  Perfect!  Just make sure to drink water after you eat it though.  It does have the tendency to leave your mouth at bit dry.  While they can be served in a bowl, it is more common to see them match their fancy meal and are usually served something like the picture off to the left.