The French word parfait means “perfect,” and the French dessert of the same name is basically just a frozen custard. In the United States, however, the word parfait has morphed over many years to mean pretty much any cold, layered, sweet dish served in a (usually tall) glass, where the layers might include ingredients like ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, granola, fruit, nuts, or syrups—and it may be intended as a breakfast food, a dessert, or anything in between. Thus you could plausibly put a French parfait next to an American parfait and find no similarities other than the temperature. And because there are no absolutes in American parfaits other than cold, sweet ingredients, I find the whole concept rather, shall we say, imperfect. But if you’re in the mood for an ill-defined, layered sweet food in a glass, boy is today your day!

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