The history of the amuse

The amuse, where did this actually come from? We also know it in the Netherlands as an aperitif snack, a very small dish that we can be served on a spoon, for example. It is a small dish that we could eat in one bite, with which we like to make sure that we welcome guests to the table today. However, the origins and history of the amuse show something different, which makes it interesting to take a look at that as well.

Sit at the table

In the Netherlands we use the amuse today to welcome the guests at the moment they sit at the table, or to make sure that you can thank everyone for coming. You make an amuse that you can easily offer, on a plate with small bites, or by means of a spoon that everyone can take up. However, this is not entirely in line with the origins and history of the amuse, as the French dealt with it in a different way.

Amuse between courses

The French traditionally use the amuse as a small dish, between the different courses. When the starter is over, we usually take some time before serving the main course. In order to bridge that time, it was previously customary to offer an amuse, with which it was possible to temporarily ‘entertain’ the mouth. We know the latter thanks to the full terms for the amuse, which we can freely translate into Dutch.

Amuse-gueule of amuse-bouche

We speak today ‘just’ of an amuse, but that is not the full name for this little snack. We should actually speak of an amuse-gueule or an amuse-bouche. However, it is wise not to translate this literally into Dutch, as this creates a rather vulgar statement, which we in the Netherlands do not like the moment when we enjoy a delicious dinner. We can freely translate the amuse-bouche as the ‘entertainment for the mouth’, which indicates that the amuse allows us to temporarily entertain the mouth, both before the first course and between courses. In this respect, the creation of the amuse was accompanied by a different application from the one we know it today.


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