Gourmandises, amuse bouche & hors d'oeuvre

There are many ways to start a meal, from nibbles and pre-dinner cocktail foods to the very first dish, if not appetizer of a luncheon or dinner. As we have become quite liberated in applying culinary terms loosely, it seems only appropriate and respectful to the creation as well as to the creator addressing the numerous appetizer choices by their original title. This eventually allows us to bring more diversity to the dining table and to have a wider choice of what food may be most appropriate for specific occasions.


a collective term that expresses a large range of pre-dinner appetizers. The culinary terms described below would all fall under ‘Gourmandises’. The term was also applied to articulate the appreciation and knowledge of fine food.

Hors D’Oeurve

served traditionally before a meal, they are usually light and delicate to stimulate the appetite and palate for the upcoming courses. They are traditionally cold but also served hot on occasion.  

Amuse Bouche

a small appetiser offered before the chosen a la carte appetizer is served. An appropriate amuse bouche stimulates the tastebuds in anticipation of the upcoming courses. Preparations that provide the least intake of calories and certainly refrain from using starch and cream are best suitable. A balanced level of acidity in form of lime, lemon juice or quality vinegar helps to elevate taste and sensitise the palate. The amuse bouche / gueule is appreciated as it bridges time before arrival of the appetizer. Precise seasoning and an absence of chilli or spiciness are imperative. The term is often misunderstood by today’s chefs as they serve inappropriate dishes e.g. canapés, a demi tasse of thick, creamy and puree soup and others.

Amuse Gueule is another and widely used term used instead of amuse bouche.


these are pieces of fried or toasted bread which are served with a savoury topping. They can be either hot or cold but are often classed as hors d’oeurves. They are used at cocktail parties and catered receptions.


the Spanish concept of appetite triggering delicacies. Originally served in bodegas, expertise in preparation is indispensable not only for lovers of nueva cocina. 


translating to ‘before the meal’. The fabulous Italian version of appetisers – semplice in modo – super in gusto. (simple in preparation and superb in taste)


composed of several layers of bread and filling ranging from small to large and simple to elaborate. Often served for cocktails or luncheons this preparation isn’t to be mistaken with the many nasty copies out there.


poultry legs stuffed with well seasoned forcemeat, garnished with e.g. truffles, pistachio, ham, roasted, braised or poached and served either hot or cold.


a dish consisting of a pastry case filled with various meats or fish, garnished with mushrooms, truffles or vegetables and baked.


an Italian specialty of a boned pig’s trotter, stuffed with forcemeats of pork, bacon, truffles and seasoning. It is cured, poached and at times smoked.


A preparation of pork, rabbit, goose or poultry meat cooked it in its own fat or lard then pounded to smooth paste, potted and served as a cold hors d’oeurve. 


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