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Steal This Mosaic

Michel Richard’s eel-and-hamachi mosaic debuted at Citronelle several years ago. Photograph by Renee Comet.

Chefs often poach, and we’re not talking eggs. The latest in menu thievery: the word “mosaic.” This vague dish descriptor has been turning up on menus around town, including those at the Oval Room, Vidalia, and Rustico. It derives from a plate Michel Richard made famous at Citronelle, an arrangement of thin slices of hamachi, eel, tuna, and salmon that, in its intricacy and interplay of color, resembled stained glass. Since then the word has emerged as a highfalutin term for a complex arrangement of ingredients. There’s no copyrighting of dishes, and chefs have long insisted that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

This appeared in the November, 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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