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European Appetizers and Cocktails: France


Here are some popular Hors d’oeuvres in France

cruditesCrudités are a common and tasty French appetizer. This simple dish consists of raw vegetables (typically carrots, radishes, and celery) that are soaked in a vinaigrette dressing overnight and served just as they are the next day. Sometimes hard-boiled eggs and black olives are added to the tray.



An assiette de charcuterie is a nice, hearty way to start off a meal. It is a plate of cold, mixed sliced meats (typically cured ham, sausages, etc.), garnished with cornichons (tiny, bitter French pickles). Make sure to have a small slice of baguette and a dollop of Dijon mustard with your favorite meat. The combination of meats tastes wonderful with a glass of hearty rosé or a kir.

Brandade de morue is pureed salt cod, sometimes made with potatoes as well. Dip a baguette into the smooth dip and enjoy. Brandade de morue is often served in the south of France, particularly in Marseilles. Best enjoyed with a glass of dry white wine.

les-olivesLes olives (citrus marinated olives) are an extremely popular appetizer in France’s Provence region. Since the flavor of marinated olives depends on the combination of ingredients used, it is rare that you would ever taste the same type of marinated olive twice! Each bar or restaurant has its own special house recipe. Either green or black olives can be used and typical ingredients include lemon or orange zest, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. I think these olives taste best with a glass of light provençal rosé.

escargot-bordeauxLes escargots (snails) are popular throughout all of France, however, escargot stuffed mushrooms are specific to the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region. Snails are placed inside mushroom caps along with butter, shallots, garlic, celery, parsley, salt, and pepper. They are then baked and served hot. To get the most out of this flavor combination, enjoy with a glass of dry white wine.

Gougères are airy, miniature cheese puffs. These little wonders typically make an appearance around Bastille Day, but you can find them throughout the summer at certain French eateries, mostly in the Ile- de- France region. They are especially good when enjoyed with a Pastis aperitif.

pastisLes apéritifs– As a before dinner drink, you can’t go wrong with a kir, which is made with crème de cassis (blackcurrant liquor) in dry white wine or a kir royale (substitute champagne for white wine). Pastis, a strong, anis flavored liquor (typically watered down when served as an apéritif) is popular in the south of France.

Santé! A la votre!

Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for

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