classic: a crystal/cut glass or silver bowl or tray that is divided into several compartments; a lazy-susan.
modern: a wooden board with a rough cut edge; a simple modern flat square piece of pottery; a cluster of several bowls on a tray; simple, compartmentalized glass trays or bowls; a shallow bowl made from sleek aluminum.
classic: a little three-pronged fork or tongs
modern: also a fork or tongs; chopsticks
classic: canned black olives, drained (and eaten off your fingers) or jarred green olives with pimento centers.
modern: a variety from your supermarket's olive bar; green olives stuffed with blue cheese, whole garlic cloves or whole almonds.
classic: mini-gerkhins or crinkle cut bread & butter; beets; pearl onions; okra.
modern: all of the above plus japanese daikon; whole carrots in red, yellow, orange with a bit of their tops still on; artichoke hearts; green beans; cauliflower; mushrooms; pepperoncini; kim chee; sauerkraut.
classic: radishes; celerey stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese; carrot sticks; green onions trimmed and soaked in ice water so they look like little palm trees.
modern: radishes in many colors such as purple, white and pink or the long, thin french butter variety; celery stuffed with goat's cheese; multi-colored carrot sticks; cherry or grape tomatoes; jicama sticks; red pepper spears; fennel.
classic: a sour cream based dip.
modern: a stiff hummus and some broken flat bread.
classic: mound each offering in its little compartment or arrange tightly packed on a circular tray
modern: scatter over a wide, flat surface or arrange in little clumps with space in between; cluster a collection of 1/2 pint canning jars on a wooden tray and fill.
I hope this inspires you to revive or reinvent your own relish tray. What are your classic relish tray elements and what have you added over the years?
(Image: Dana Velden)