Parfait is really a general term used to describe many different types of layered foods served in a dish. In practice, though, most Americans are familiar with ice cream or yogurt parfaits, which are a very specific type of dessert.

Also the American parfait is very similar to a sundae. It may contain layers of ice cream or cream, and include nuts, syrups, whipped cream, fresh fruit, granola, and any number of other dessert style toppings. It is a popular dessert in fairly upscale restaurants that want to offer something a bit more casual than heavier traditional French desserts. French parfait itself is traditionally made with eggs and cream whipped with a layer of fruit.

The French also make many different items en parfait, and it is not uncommon to find various assorted savory parfaits in France. One finds seafood vegetable, and even fois gras in this form throughout France. The unifying theme tends to be the layering, the somewhat creamy consistency, and the service, which is usually in a tall clear glass.

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