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Appetizers or Hors d'Oeuvres


Jamie Lee
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My spelling may suck... but really, what is the difference?

Recipe websites distinguish (somehow) between the two, but some seem to be "cocktail nibbles" and others seem to be first courses. But the distinction is not constant.

I've googled the question, and there are many sites who say Hors d'Oeuvres is the French translation of the American "Apps". (Or more probably vice versa!)

Which is finger food?

Which is a first course that requires a plate and silverware?

Which is tradition ally fried?

Is either one traditionally seafood?

What's the difference?

Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I'm sure others are more qualified to answer this than I am, but I would say hors d'oeuvres are not at all just the French translation for American appetiser. To answer your questions I would say hors d'oeuvres tend to be finger food while appetisers comprise a "first course" that requires a plate and silverware, and as such are what's known as the "entrée" in France.

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Hors d'oeuvres in my book are finger food meant to be eaten casually, often standing.

Appetizers are more formal, a mini-entree really, and are usually eaten with utensils whilst seated.

The two Amuses (bouche and greuele) which are synonyms in my mind, are hors d'oeuvres that are served (gratis) prior to the appetizer and are eaten at the table..

Where tapas fit into this scheme is more than I can handle.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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So now we've added a new twist: Amuse vs. App vs HD

Is it plate size, or timing, or both?

Given my recent:

gallery_51818_5282_287222.jpg

(Figs stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with killer wild-desert honey)

Would one on a small plate be an amuse?

Would three on a slightly larger plate be an hor d'oeurve?

Would five on a larger plate be a first course?

Is the difference the size of the plate?

Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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The usage maven will note that we in the English-speaking world have applied the French word entrée to the wrong course.

Herewith begins a campaign to replace the inappropriate French word with the plain English "main course" or "main", which, thankfully, is also already used widely. At least with that the French will no longer think us stupid. (Okay, okay, it will take more than this to get them to that point.)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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  • 3 weeks later...
I've googled the question, and there are many sites who say Hors d'Oeuvres is the French translation of the American "Apps". (Or more probably vice versa!)

I think it's probably closer to the truth to say that hors d'oeuvre is a French term referring to opening courses (it literally means "outside the works"), but that in America (not sure about other English-speaking places) it's been co-opted to mean finger food, either passed or laid out.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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The usage maven will note that we in the English-speaking world have applied the French word entrée to the wrong course.

Not the whole English-speaking world, just us unworldly Americans. My Australian friends call it the "main course" (or just the "main"), and call appetizers "entrées." Same goes for many of my British friends.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I've googled the question, and there are many sites who say Hors d'Oeuvres is the French translation of the American "Apps". (Or more probably vice versa!)

I think it's probably closer to the truth to say that hors d'oeuvre is a French term referring to opening courses (it literally means "outside the works"), but that in America (not sure about other English-speaking places) it's been co-opted to mean finger food, either passed or laid out.

I assumed that hors d'oeuvres were not part of the regular meal. Appetizers are the first course. I've got no evidence to back me up here.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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We've got two or three cultures and a couple of languages going on here. Entree is misused (or co-opted) in American restaurant terms, as Sandy mentioned. In France, Quebec and various other lands the Entree is the Main. After thirty years in the US, the entree presented as a first course still makes me grind my teeth.

An amuse is a tiny adorable starter (a freebie) the kitchen sends out before the hors d'oeuvre (in Francophone places,) or the app in this country. A Hoover Doover is the app in France, knife and fork time.

In North America , it's shorthand for the lovely bite-with-drinkie Ivy talks about here.

Margaret McArthur

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The usage maven will note that we in the English-speaking world have applied the French word entrée to the wrong course.

Not the whole English-speaking world, just us unworldly Americans. My Australian friends call it the "main course" (or just the "main"), and call appetizers "entrées." Same goes for many of my British friends.

We've got two or three cultures and a couple of languages going on here. Entree is misused (or co-opted) in American restaurant terms, as Sandy mentioned. In France, Quebec and various other lands the Entree is the Main. After thirty years in the US, the entree presented as a first course still makes me grind my teeth.

Now I'm confused.

Based on photos I've seen of early (get ready now) Paris Métro stations, and what little I remember of the French I took back before the Flood, I assumed that the entrée was the "entrance" to something. Applied to a meal, that would be the opening or "starter" course.

Now comes a knowledgeable food lover to tell us that where they speak French, it's used to apply to the main course, as most American restaurant menus I've seen use the term.

Maybe I'll just quit using French to refer to any part of the meal. I'll call canapés "stand-up finger food," amuse-bouches "sit-down finger food freebies," hors d'oeuvres "itty-bitty starters," and entrées "main dishes." There. Everyone will laugh at me, but at least I won't be confused any more, and I won't have to worry what the French think of us, or what they think of Jerry Lewis, or who's Nikolas Sarkozy's latest trophy wife, or any of that stuff.

An amuse is a tiny adorable starter (a freebie) the kitchen sends out before the hors d'oeuvre (in Francophone places,) or the app in this country. A Hoover Doover is the app in France, knife and fork time.

In North America , it's shorthand for the lovely bite-with-drinkie Ivy talks about here.

Okay, maybe I don't have to go that far. This much I can follow. Since most American restaurants don't comp their customers with itty-bitty starters, I can leave the amuse-bouche alone, unless a restaurant serves me one, in which case I guess I'll have to eat it.

After I read that piece about horrors d'oeuvres.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I won't weigh in on American usage, but I can clear up what's going on with the French use of the terms.

a) Hors d'œuvre has actually fallen out of fashion and no one uses it anymore, except for at catered-type events or white-glove cocktail parties. The hors d'œuvre in question (no "s" for the plural) are bites served without cutlery, usually standing up.

b) In today's fine restaurants, the meal is often preceeded by an amuse-gueule or amuse-bouche. Synonyms. "Gueule" which literally means "animal's muzzle" is slang for "face" but somehow escapes being pejorative in the term "amuse-gueule" (whereas the verb "gueuler" means to shout or complain).

c) After any potential amuse-gueule, the first course in French restaurant meals is the entrée.

d) The main course is the plat principal, often shortened to "plat."

e) Then potentially cheese (fromage) and the easy one, dessert.

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We've got two or three cultures and a couple of languages going on here. Entree is misused (or co-opted) in American restaurant terms, as Sandy mentioned. In France, Quebec and various other lands the Entree is the Main. After thirty years in the US, the entree presented as a first course still makes me grind my teeth.

here.

Gee, like Sandy I'm confused now. I too thought that entrée in France was the 1st course. (a la entrée de jour for example)

Around here they call the main course the plat. (a la plat de jour for example)

Now admittedly I live out in the sticks so maybe the terminology used here isn't the same as in big city polite society.

Think I'm clear on the other terms - I hope. For example:

You get hores devours at a cocktail party usually, but sometimes at a dinner party before you sit down to table. They're kind of stand up snacks to be eaten with one's fingers hopefully. The English like to call them nibbles.

One typically gets amused' at an up market restaurant or, sometimes even at not so upmarket restaurants where they're striving. Occasionally you get amused at a private dinner party, but you're more likely to get hore devoured. In any case these will be served before the appetizer/entree/ starter.

PS: You sit down to be amused. Right?

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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Thanks, Dave and Sharon, for clearing things up at the source (which, in French, is a spring).

My original comment on the subject, then, stands -- most American restaurants do misuse the term by applying it to the plat.

Now we can get back to the question of what to call the stuff you can eat without a fork (most of the time) and standing up (some of the time).

Hadn't thought of the inappropriateness of lamb chops as an hors d'oeuvre until I read Ivy's essay. Then again, there is the larger issue of cocktail parties that serve hors d'oeuvres and provide you plates for them. Just try balancing your plate on your wine glass as you try to either shake the hand of another guest or spear/pluck/nibble something off it.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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So now we've added a new twist: Amuse vs. App vs HD

Is it plate size, or timing, or both?

Given my recent:

gallery_51818_5282_287222.jpg

(Figs stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with killer wild-desert honey)

Would one on a small plate be an amuse?

Would three on a slightly larger plate be an hor d'oeurve?

Would five on a larger plate be a first course?

Is the difference the size of the plate?

IMHO

A tray of these being passed (with a napkin!) would be an hors d'oeuvre as you would take one

1 or 2 on a small dish at the beginning of the meal, sitting down would be an amuse

2-3 before the soup or salad course would be the app or first course

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IMHO

A tray of these being passed (with a napkin!) would be an hors d'oeuvre as you would take one

1 or 2 on a small dish at the beginning of the meal, sitting down would be an amuse

2-3 before the soup or salad course would be the app or first course

Think you're spot on, but I sure wouldn't want to eat one standing up with my fingers napkin or not.

Sticky HD's drive me nuts.

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