Amuse-Bouche, Canapès, Starters and Finger Food

What’s the difference?

Canapés, Appetisers 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 the all too easy, dips with accompaniments.

Amuse-Bouche or Amuse-Gueule

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, and are usually 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.

A canapé is a case of assembling parts together, sure, you have to bake bouchées/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 canapés 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 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.

Dishes for Canapés, Starters and Amuse-Bouches

Take a look at the various images below and you get a good idea of the various ways you can serve appetisers and amuse-bouches. But here is a sample list:

  • trays
  • wooden boards
  • small, tiny bowls
  • tasting/cradle spoons
  • Chinese soup spoons
  • shot glasses of all shapes
  • small wine glasses
  • champagne saucers

At my parties, we always feed the kids first, so canapés have an added purpose


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