Hors d'œuvre

Hors d'œuvre (French literally 'outside the work'; English ) or appetizers are food served before the main courses of a meal. The French singular and plural are hors d'œuvre; in English, the œ ligature is usually replaced by the sequence oe, and the plural is often written "hors d'oeuvres" and pronounced .


If there is an extended period between when guests arrive and when the meal is served (for example, during a cocktail hour), these might also serve the purpose of sustaining guests during the wait. Hors d'oeuvre are sometimes served with no meal afterward. This is the case with many reception and cocktail party events.

Hors d'oeuvre may be served at the table as a part of the sit-down meal or they may be served before sitting at the table. Hors d'oeuvre prior to a meal are either stationary or passed. Stationary hors d'oeuvre are also referred to as "table hors d'oeuvre." Passed hors d'oeuvre are also referred to as “butler-style,” “butlered” or “butler-passed” hors d'oeuvre.

Though any food served prior to the main course is technically an hors d'oeuvre, the phrase is generally limited to individual items, not crudités, cheese or fruit. For example, a glazed fig topped with mascarpone and wrapped with prosciutto is considered an "hors d'oeuvre," whereas figs on a platter are not.

In catering, both frozen and fresh hors d'oeuvre are served. Generally the fresh, handmade items are more flavorful, beautiful and expensive.

A more substantial starter or first course served at the table might be referred to as an entrée (outside the U.S. and English Canada).

Hors d'oeuvre might include:

Other languages and cultures

  • Antipasto is the Italian equivalent of hors d'oeuvre, meaning “before the meal” (anti = before, pasto = meal). In Italian cuisine, this typically consists of savory cold foods such as cheeses and raw or marinated vegetables, as well as cold cuts and cured meats such as prosciutto.
  • Meze is the equivalent of hors d'oeuvre found in Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Picaditas or tapas is the Spanish equivalent of hors d'oeuvre in Argentina, pasabocas in Colombia, entremeses in Venezuela, boquitas in Honduras, botanas in Mexico, entradas in Chile and bocaditos in Peru.
  • Zakuski is a hors d'oeuvre served in Russian cuisines. Usually presented buffet style, it often consists of cured meats and fishes, various pickled vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and garlic, prepared salads, caviar, and breads. Zakuski is often offered with vodka or other beverage.
  • In China, it is called lěng pán 冷盘 ("cold plate") in Mandarin.

See also

External links

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