Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: there is nothing crude about crudités. This lovely fresh vegetable plate — my all-time favorite starter — is the dish I most long for whenever I’m away from France for a while. There is something quintessentially French in the way the vegetables are prettily arranged in mounds, then topped with a zesty sauce. It’s so fresh it feels like visiting a garden – and finding it on your plate.
Assiette de crudités / French vegetable plate
So how did it get its name? The word crudités is what the French call a false friend (it looks like an English word but has a different meaning). Like our word crude, it derives from the Latin crudus, meaning raw, even though some of the veggies on a modern assiette de crudités may be cooked.
The vegetable plate pictured above is a winter version, with raw carrots, cooked beets, celeriac remoulade, a boiled egg with a dollop of mayo, and some tender leaves. But the assiette de crudités is a dish for all seasons. One could argue that it’s best in summer when veggie gardens are at their most opulent. But personally I find the plate’s bright colors even more of a joy to behold in the bleak midwinter.