Canapés 2.0

I worked for a great caterer in Montreal when I was a student. I loved his canapés. I ate thousands of them. I can admit it now because he has since retired. Back then, people started calling canapés “appetizers".

When I was a kid, appetizers were the chic of chic. Gatherings at my house always started the same way: chips, peanuts and a small glass of pop. However, it was what followed that made me salivate. My mom handed me a tray and said: “Go offer them some appetizers.” Walking down the stairs that led to the basement, I gorged wholeheartedly on slices of cooked ham spread with cream cheese that were rolled up and cut into bite-sized portions. A true engineering masterpiece that is still unmatched in my memories.

I became royally offended when a topping made a Ritz cracker go soft, while a celery stalk covered with Cheez Whiz seemed like a fabulous discovery. And if, by chance, the celery stalk in question was cut diagonally, well, that was an indisputable sign that my hosts were fine connoisseurs. It was an era of parties without Breathalysers, soft drinks without aspartame and vegetables without dip. My uncle made a fool of himself, my aunt was no bigger than she is today and double dipping (sticking a vegetable in dip a second time) did not exist. It was celebrating at its finest. The art of entertaining reached its peak in the 50s, 60s and even 70s. Smoked oysters had flair and devilled eggs became legendary.

Appetizers, 21st century-style, offer a peek into other cultures. Besides serving their primary purpose, they have turned into culinary discoveries that take us around the world. We go through the cupboard and bring out the brochettes, silver spoons and small glasses to offer mouthfuls of fish and seafood flavoured with fresh herbs. And we experiment by mixing textures!