Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hors-d’oeuvre Varies - A History

Originally published May 7, 1984

Most of the glamorous restaurants of the world serve a galaxy of tidbits, both hot and cold, which fly under the banner of hors-d’oeuvre varies. These appetite stimulants are usually wheeled up to your table on a small trolley, each tier of which can hold up to twenty small dishes containing a colorful assortment of vegetables, marinated in olive oil and lemon juice and served a’la vinaigrette, or prepared a’la grecque with wine, olive oil, finely chopped onion, carrot and herbs. These trolleys come to us via France from Russia where the hors-d’oeuvre idea originated in the Russian Zukowski table, set up in a room adjoining the reception room and wheeled in to satisfy far-traveling guests before dinner. Thus it is not surprising to find Russian salad, hard-boiled eggs with a mayonnaise or sour cream dressing and pickled and preserved fish of all kinds included in the usual hors-d’oeuvre assortment.

The real purpose of the hors-d’oeuvre course is to stimulate the appetite, not to drown it. A correctly chosen complement of dishes should not contain too much mayonnaise or other dressings, but it should contain both cooked and raw foods so that the tastes and textures will vary as much as possible. Serve hors-d’oeuvre to best advantage in individual dishes or bowls.

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