In Classic Cusine, the dressing of a buffet table was an art. Any ‘Woman of Substance’ would know that the state of her table emphasised her (or rather her husbands) rank and status.
Merely to provide food was not enough! To have sufficient disposable income to produce (or have produced) such trifles as an ice sculpture that had no future other than as a puddle, a complex and artistic fat carving that would simply end up in the melting pot or a bread ‘tableau’ that would not even be good for breadcrumbs was a sign of what we today would consider merely conspicuous consumption!
The only times recently I have produced such things has been for special occasions or events such as Christmas and New Year parties or Wedding buffets.
The principal subjects I produce are shown here, though there is no limit to the imagination. For one particular pre-wedding party I produced a hippopotamus with a frog on his back (the bride liked frogs , the groom hippopotomii!)
The substance used is not in fact butter, which would very quickly become rancid and dangerous, but a form of very ‘waxy’ margerine that is generally used in the commercial production of puff or flaky pastry or other ‘layered dough’ products such a brioche or Danish. The longer it is exposed to the air, the yellower it becomes so after a day or two it begins to take on an ivory ‘glow’ in imitation of butter.
The actual process is a mixture of both sculpting and moulding but the results are always remarked upon and create a point of conversation. The main problem I have has been to stop people scraping a knife through the ‘butter’ to spread on their bread!
Trust me, it tastes vile!