Amuse-Bouche, Canapes and Hor D’oeurves or the totally unimaginative finger food. What’s the difference? Canapés and Hor D’oeurves we are all very familiar with of course. Snack like, they can range from the very simple, like slices of smoked salmon on blinis to the more exciting prawns in filo pastry. You find toppings on bases like crostinis, savoury shortbread, sticks and skewers and of course dips with accompaniments.
Amuse-Bouche or Amuse-Gueule, on the other hand, is more a restaurant phenomenon, invented in France during the Nouvelle Cuisine movement and means amuse your mouth or tantalise your tastes, the former being a literal translation. In restaurants, they are not on the menu, served as a small complementary course, to flaunt the chef’s talent. To me, personally, when I make and serve them, there is one fundamental difference. An amuse-bouche is an altogether more involved and more sophisticated morsel of delight, often involving some sort of actual cooking, it is a miniature dish, eaten in 1 or 2 bites or spoonfuls. A canapé is a case of assembling parts together, sure, you have to bake bouchees/vol au vents, et al, but the whole process is much simpler. To me, anyway! Another difference is when to make what. Amuse Bouches are kept for small gatherings (maximum of 12), while canapes are for bigger crowds – simple logistics as one takes more effort than the other.
Whatever the difference, I am in love! There’s just something about these dainty delights that can transform the look of a dinner party. I must confess though, my idea of hor d’oeuvres extends beyond the standard dips, smoked salmon, crostinis and blinis! I think once you start experimenting with different tastes and fillings as well as the actual bases, you’ll agree with me that there is no end to the combination that you can come up with. In the last couple of years or so, I’ve also discovered cradle/tasting spoons and boy, do I love these – there’s something so enchanting about rows of little spoons filled with tiny amounts of delicious food meant to whet your appetites! Of course, at my parties, we always feed the kids first, so canapes have an added purpose!