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Cocktail Party Food Lingo Decoded

Confused about the difference between an appetizer, hors d'ouevre, canape and an amuse-bouche? Don't worry -- we've got you covered with our guide to appetizer lingo.

We break down the oft mentioned, yet seldom understood cocktail party terms so you'll know just what you're reaching for at the next one you attend. Read on through, then check out some of our favorite recipes in case you're in the hosting chair for the next party.


What's an Appetizer?

Appetizers are usually the same type of foods served for an entree, but in smaller portions. They are larger in portion than hors d'oeuvres, and usually consist of a few pieces served on a small plate.


What are Hors d'Oeuvres?

An hors d'oeuvre is a small bite of food that comes before the main course. Generally, the phrase hors d'oeuvre is limited to individual items that have been prepared. This means that crudites, cheese and fruit are generally not called hors d'oeuvres as they are raw in form. Hors d'oeuvres will be smaller than appetizers.


What's a Canape?

Canapes and hors d'oeuvres are very similar, but traditionally canapes have three parts: a base such as toast or a cracker, the main element and a garnish or sauce on top. Think of it as a more layered or complex bite, often with a slice of bread or cracker for a base.


What are Amuse-Bouche?

The French phrase "amuse-bouche" literally translates to "amusing the mouth." Amuse-bouche is typically a little treat sent out by the chef to welcome guests to a restaurant before they decide what to eat.

Amuse-bouche are very small and usually seasonal items done in a unique way. Examples include a small soup or puree served in a single shot glass portion, or a single oyster with a spectacularly unique topping.


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