Amuse bouche, translated to 'mouth amuser' in English, also known as amuse gueule, refers to French appetizer (known as hors d’oeuvre in French cuisine), consisting of bite sized dishes, served commonly with wine, before main course. Amuse bouches are served as per the choice of the chef, and not the customer, in order to prepare the customer for meals, and to provide an idea with respect to chef’s cooking approach. The delights and taste buds of the guests get excited with the help of bite sized treats served at several fine dining restaurants in France, before the main course meal.
Amuse gueule or bouche offers a variety of dishes, from casual to quite sophisticated and elegant ones. A few popular amuse bouches in French cuisine consist of Foie gras with pineapple, Prosciutto di Parma, Black Mission Figs with Mascarpone Foam, Grape canapés, Curried Three-Bean Salad, Blue Cheese Foam with Port Wine Reduction, Camembert bonbons, and Soft Polenta with Forest Mushrooms.
Originally, amuse bouche was known as tidbit or amuse gueule; however, in most of the fine dining French restaurants, the use of amuse bouche is more common, as gueule is regarded to be an impolite way of referring to bouche.
Amuse bouches came to limelight during Nouvelle Cuisine movement, which laid emphasis on intensely flavored and smaller courses. Nouvelle cuisine is an approach in French cuisine, in which immense emphasis is laid on presentation and cooking methodology of food, characterized by delicate and lighter dishes.
Features of Amuse Gueule
Amuse gueule course is basically characterized by three features viz.
- Amuse gueule dishes are very small sized; only 1 or 2 bites.
- Chef is the only decision maker. Amuse bouches are not prepared on order. They are offered without any charge as per the preference of the chef, often complemented with wine.
- Amuse gueule dishes are same for all the guests.
As per a popular New York based celebrity chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, amuse bouche is a very good way to express the true talent of the chef in small bites. Though, the main role of the course can be met with simple offerings like tapenade and olives, however, these days, the course has become a platform with respect to depicting the showmanship and creativity of the chef. This is the reason why the trend of serving several small sized appetizers has become quite popular not only in French cuisine, but in other cuisines too. Apart from requiring great level of art, imagination, and intensity for preparing amuse gueule, it is also important to make the bouches in huge amount, so that the quantity does not fall short when served in front of all the guests. So, both quantity and quality have to be taken into consideration with respect to preparing amuse bouches for a huge crowd. Further, the cutlery for serving amuse bouches should also be of supreme quality to impress the guests. Large sized Asian soups, demitasse cups, and interesting plates are a few popular choices. It is also important for the kitchen of the restaurant, offering amuse gueule, to accommodate guests which might be allergic to particular ingredients.
Popular Amuse Gueule Recipes
A few popular amuse bouche recipes have been discussed as under:
- Oyster with mignonette ice- this amuse bouche recipe suggests spooning frozen mix of red wine vinegar, dry red wine, sugar, minced shallot, salt, and pepper into each oyster, and then serving the dish.
- Shrimp with asparagus- this dish is a combination of asparagus tips, grilled shrimp, Italian dressing, and lemon zest.
- Foie gras with pineapple- caramelized pineapple slices are arranged along with tarragon oil sautéed foie gras, and served after garnishing with fresh tarragon.
- Grape canapes- this amuse bouche recipe suggests covering seedless grapes with blue cheese, and then rolling them in chopped walnuts.
- Camembert bonbons- these are savory bite sized amuse bouches made with camembert cheese (soft and creamy cow’s milk cheese). Flour, butter, and milk are heated together, followed by stirring in cheese and seasonings. The mixture is poured in a greased tray and allowed to cool, before forming several bonbons (rounded rectangular pieces) from this mix. The bonbons are deep fried in oil until golden brown and served hot.
- Cheese balls- goat cheese is shaped in the form of ball and rolled in chopped chives to make this amuse bouche.