Aperitif Dinatoire: A French Foodie Habit To Invite A Few Friends Over for Dinner, Tres Informal?
Did The French Steal This Idea From The Americans?
An apéritif dînatoire or a big French appetizer cocktail party is an increasingly popular way to invite friends over for an affordable evening of drinks and nibbles. A party with sufficient amounts of cocktails and food so that guests leave feeling full, like they have eaten dinner “hint for the word dînatoire,” satiated with the perfume of conversation and food. A finish to the evening having spent an informal or formal moment enjoying the company of friends or making new friends. Does this sound familiar? Hmm, picture a big cheese and cracker platter put down to enjoy at your last friend’s party. This would have never happened before in France, but an apéritif dînatoire is very fashionable at the moment.
What is this French appetizer cocktail party? Hard to accurately translate “apéritif dînatoire” but you could call it a big drinks and nibbles party, or a walking buffet, informal cocktail dinner, large aperitif drinks and nibbles. It is a great way to have friends over but not as the host feel pressure to plan a big gourmet menu and have a formal sit down dinner. The cost is also usually lower too, this casual cocktail dinner.
The definition for an apéritif dînatoire? Here is a great article on the subject, but picture this: a couple different drinks available; usually beer, wine, fruit juice, soda, maybe one or two stronger alcohols like gin, vodka or whiskey. Depending on the number of guests we could either be standing up or just sitting around on some chairs. Finger food either on a large table buffet style or presented on the cocktail table. The apéritif food could be hot or cold, but it is finger food, able to be enjoyed by the fingers, of course! Food that is filling, enough to leave the party without hunger. No, not food to “wet the appetite” like apéritif food usually does. (Read more published here on what a French apéritif course is usually like). The dinner can last as long as the host would like and the food is just enjoyed; with no pattern or real courses. An informal moment. The only real movement towards another course is that for desserts. All is cleared away and voila! Les desserts appear. Coffee and herbal tea served after the desserts. The signal that the evening has come to an end.
In France things are moving; language, culture, music and food. This cocktail dinner and big appetizer dinner movement, perhaps “stolen” from one country I am close to: America. The concept of apéritif dînatoire is a new one, but it is catching on quickly. Why not? An easier way to have a joyous moment with friends, informal or formal, gourmet or just easy food. Expensive or just within your budget. Oui, the long, sit-down 5 course formal French dinners are wonderful, but why not move to the big appetizer dinner party, the French way? How do you do it chez vous (your house)? There are as many ways as there are French cheeses…shout out your feedback below in the comment section.
Some Ideas To Do Your Own French-Style Appetizer Party
To start your palate moving in the right direction, here are some ideas for finger foods the French serve at a typical apéritif dînatoire:
- Quiche or Tarts
- Salty Quick Breads
- Cold Cuts such as Salami, Ham, Prosciutto,
- Cold Soup in Small Glasses
- Vegetables and Dip
- Meat, Vegetables on a Stick
And your finger food ideas for the next cocktail party chez vous (your house)? Share with me your favorites!
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