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Hors d'oeuvre (/ , /; French: hors d'œuvre [ɔʁ dœvʁ] ( listen), literally "apart from the [main] work") or the first course, are food items served before the main courses of a meal. The French (singular and plural) is hors d’œuvre; in English, the ⟨œ⟩ ligature is usually replaced by the digraph ⟨oe⟩ with the plural often written as hors d'oeuvres and pronounced the same or / /.
If there is an extended period between when guests arrive and when the meal is eaten (for example during a cocktail hour), these might also serve the purpose of sustaining guests during the wait, in the same way that apéritifs are served as a drink before meals. 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 dinner table as a part of the meal, or they may be served before seating. Hors d'oeuvre prior to a meal are either rotated by waiters or passed. Stationary hors d'oeuvre served at the table may be referred to as "table hors d'oeuvre". Passed hors d'oeuvre may be referred to as "butler-style" or "butlered" 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.
Examples of hors d'oeuvre include:
Other languages and cultures
- Antipasto (Italian) or antepasto (Portuguese) are served as hors d'oeuvre in Southern Europe.
- Banchan are small Korean dishes similar to hors d'oeuvre that are served either before or alongside a full meal.
- Đồ nguội khai vị ("cold plate first course") is Vietnamese for hors d'oeuvre.
- Lěng pán 冷盘 ("cold plate"), or qián cài 前菜 ("before dish") are terms used for hors d'oeuvre in Mandarin.
- Meze, a selection of small dishes served in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine.
- Zakuski are hors d'oeuvre in Russian cuisines. Usually presented buffet style, it often consists of cured meats and fishes, various pickled vegetables, and breads.
- Zensai (前菜 lit. before dish ) is Japanese for hors d'oeuvre.
Swiss cuisine (Schynige Platte)
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