Wedding Wednesday: In Praise of the Passed Hors d'oeuvre


First off, I will say this:  I can never, ever, spell hors d'oeuvres properly.  (This, despite the fact that I was the Galena Middle School spelling bee champ in the year nevermind.)  I always have to look it up.

My inability to spell the word is disproportionate to my love of the culinary event, though.  I have to give praise to my newly married cousin, Corinne, who nailed the hors d'oeuvres at her recent wedding to the handsome Adam.  

At cocktail hour (another event that I love), servers unobtrusively made the rounds with the likes of:  crab stuffed mushroom caps and mini muffulettas.  I think she also had bacon wrapped shrimp or something delicious, but after the wedding day extravaganza, I was so hungry that I ate it and don't *exactly* recall.  (Sorry, Rinnie.)

It occurred to me that this might be a good time to touch up on what exactly the clumsy phrase, "passed hors d'oeuvres," really means.

What exactly is a passed hors d'oeuvre, anyway?

Passed hors d'oeuvres are appetizers or "finger foods" that are served from a tray carried directly to guests at a social gathering, such as a cocktail party or reception. Also referred to as tray service or butler service, passed appetizers are an alternative to placing hors d'oeuvres on a stationary table or buffet line.

A few ground rules to remember with these sneaky snacks:

1.  They should be finger foods.  If you're in a fancy outfit and one hand is clutching your Chardonnay, it is imperative that your finger food be actual finger food.  Don't give me something that I need two hands to eat.  My brain will short-circuit and I won't know what to do.  Say no, when I'm really hungry?  Say yes, but then force me to stand there, awkwardly finishing my conversation, until I can jet to the nearest high top table to eat what is now cold?  Mais non, mon amis.

As for some examples, I found some interesting ones.  Chilled curry corn soup?  Easy to down with one hand.  (Granted, the server needs to linger for the cup, but otherwise, very apros pos.)

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On the other hand, a mini salad in a glass?  Cute, but it totally defeats the purpose.  And let's be real.  Don't you want foods that have a lot of carbs and cheese during cocktail hour?  Salad comes later.  When you have two hands, are seated, and are enduring enjoying speeches or something.

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2.  They should not be messy.  I think this goes without saying, but grease spots and chiffon don't mix well.  

For instance, look at these ingenious sushi bites.  I am in love.

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On the other hand, I think, is these mussels.  I adore mussels.  If these guys have been detached from their shells, doctored up, and are being served in the shell for presentation, I'm in.  If they have not been detached from their shells, I am out.  N'est-ce pas?

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3.  Feel free to be creative.  Corinne gets top marks for having mini muffulettas at her reception.  It was a New Orleans celebration, through and through, and that really carried the message home.  They were fun and delicious and totally appropriate. 

That said, if someone wanted to invite me to an event where they served yellowfin tartar, I would not say no.  

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Or mini crab cakes.  (You can take the girl out of Maryland...)

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All in all, this is the time at an event when you want to encourage mingling, stave off hunger attacks, and keep everyone from getting too drunk because it's only cocktail hour, after all.  A good appetizer, whether raw, cooked, on a spoon, or in phyllo, will accomplish that.  

I am currently accepting invitations, I might add.

Hope your day has a mini crab cake in it.  I really do.

Ta ta for now,
Proper Paige


Cristy said...

People tend to eat a bit less with passed hors d'oeuvres. A good rule of thumb to remember if you are budget conscious or tend to over order. Just saying, you have no plate to heap to the ceiling and while you can lurk near a server, it is their job is to mingle!

Erin @ said...

I also have to look up that hors d'oeuvres every time I spell it. I totally want to swap the "e" and "u." And now I'm hungry.

Erin @ said...

And I added a random "that" in my previous comment. Love it when my fingers have a mind of their own!

~*Jess*~ said...

Wow. Those are some impressive nibblies (I won't even bother trying to spell it). And I'm jealous of the spread you enjoyed.