Introduction to French Appetizers

by karina on December 29, 2015

In France, expect an appetizer to be served together with an apéritif, the traditional drink before dinner.  Usually the les amuse-bouches will be simple especially if a heavy meal will follow.  At times, you can also expect the hors d’oeuvres to be the center of attraction.

There will be enough appetizers in an apéritif dinatoire to fill you up without even sitting down and dining properly. They serve these bite-sized appetizers or in waves, sometimes starting with canapés, then serving verrines and then the sweets at the last part.

Although spreads and dips are in conflict with the refinement that French want to bring on the table, there has been a number of packaged dips that you can buy in their grocery stores.  If a French restaurant offers spread on top of bread, then the spread is served as an appetizer. A toast is a triangle toasted bread but if it has more layers, it is called a canapé.

Fromage blanc is like sour cream and serves as the basis for the French homemade dipping. Appetizers made of sardines or tuna are called mousses while rillettes are rougher than mousse and made from pork or poultry. A tapenade is a green or black olive paste commonly used as spread on grilled bread and also serves as an appetizer.  The best Tucson restaurant may serve a tapenade, you will never know.

Any food that is served on a small wooden skewer or toothpick is called a brochette and it depends on the host’s idea or creative imagination. Lately, new appetizers such as sucettes or lollipops are also served for appetizers. This may consist of grilled cheese.
A five star restaurant may serve a bouchée,  a bite sized morsel. The term bouchée means mouthful and commonly served as a course but now they are made into mini quiches or pizzas and are considered as  French appetizers. Other well-known bouchées  are the Samosas and Nems (most famous in France), Ballotins (tying a few bits with something), Feuilletés (anything made of puff pastry), Accras  (deep fried fish balls) and Roulés (layered ingredients rolled and sliced).

Verrines are small glasses with two or three bites of something yummy. The contents can be the host’s imagination, its creativity is limitless . Use a small spoon to enjoy the contents.

Another appetizer close to the verrines are the cuillères. A small bite of food is arranged artistically on a spoon which when done, looks like Chinese soup spoons.

Breads and cakes are also included in the French appetizer’s list. Cakes may consist of a combination of other ingredients such as ham and olive or bacon and prunes. They are served in bite-sized pieces. Most of these French appetizers are served using French culinary techniques.

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