Saturday, November 15, 2008


© Linda Davick

Today I was back outside shooting close-ups of little objects and getting extreme pleasure from it. I wondered what the heck I was doing. Then at lunch I happened to read an article in today's Chronicle that offered 5 Tips for an Inviting Holiday Table:

1. Make a centerpiece from what's in your garden and refrigerator. (GROSS!)

2. Always have a light source on your table. (Yes. Candles are nice.)

3. Leave the wine and water on the table so guests can feel free to serve themselves. (YES! YES! A thousand times, YES!)

4. Mix family heirlooms and keepsakes with new things for a modern combination. (blah, blah, blah.)

5. ...have amuse-bouches waiting at the table when guests are seated... ) WHAT!!?

I jumped out of my chair. Amuse-bouches??? The word thrilled me. Suddenly I knew what I had been shooting all this time were none other than amuse-bouches.

I looked up amuse-bouche in the dictionary. No such word. I googled it, and according to Wikipedia:

An amuse-bouche[1](\'ä-müz-'büsh, -muez-\),[2] also called an amuse-gueule, is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouche are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are according to the chef's selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served as an excitement of taste buds to both prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef's approach to cooking.

The term is French, literally translated to "mouth amuser" [for bouche = mouth; amuser = to amuse, to please]. The plural form is amuse-bouche or amuse-bouches.[3] The original French word, more frequently employed, is amuse-gueule (gueule is slang for mouth but in fact means animal's mouth (one word in French)), although amuse-bouche is more often used on menus in fine dining restaurants.[4]

Even though I had photographed each object on a pink tablecloth, "mouth amuser" was not quite right. But close. Mine were more "eye amusers." So I looked up eye in French and discovered that what I'm making might be amuse-oeil. Not as fun to say as amuse-bouche, but I'm on the right track in figuring out what I'm doing.

But say you were making amuse-bouches (mouth-amusers, not eye-amusers) for your guests. What would they be? Mine would be a tiny chocolate cupcake, thick frosting, with a pastel buttermint on top. A charm would be in the center of each cupcake. On second thought, I'd probably hire Mari to make my amuse-bouches. Tom said his amuse-bouche would be one garlic shrimp on top of a noodle.