If you’re passionate about cooking and you’ve ever wondered how to spell horderves, you’re far from alone. The correct hors d’oeuvres spelling or horderves spelling can vary depending on who you’re talking to or where you’re doing your cooking.
Is It Spelled Hors d’oeuvres or Horderves?
For many people who are learning the art of cooking, in fact, the question of how to spell horderves tends to come up a lot.
When it comes to horderves or hors d’oeuvres spelling can be a bit tricky even after practicing for a while. Having developed in parallel with hundreds of years of French high cuisine, more or less, the term has long since been absorbed into the vocabulary of American and British cookery. Cultural differences have changed the spelling to suit different dialects and has led to considerable confusion in the process!
For example, in common parlance, the term “hors d’oeuvres” are usually and colloquially spelled as “horderves” in countries such as the United States. For all intents and purposes, the two terms are at present interchangeable in the English-speaking world.
And while most of us are familiar with the concept of hors d’oeuvres as charming little side-dishes to be eaten at weddings or family get-togethers, we might be surprised at the ancient history of these appetizing mini-meals.
We’ll cover the term’s long history later on; however, it is important to first point out that the common alternate horderves spelling form that we’re accustomed to today throughout the US works just as well as the original phrase in most kitchens.
What Are Horderves?
And if you’ve ever prepared horderves, you’re probably familiar with their popularity at fancy gatherings. They are small food items served before main dishes, similar to appetizers. Their usual function is to provide a delicious and sparing morsel of food without ruining the appetite.
This is no accident. Translated literally from the original French, hors d’oeuvre means “outside of work.” This phrase comes from the fact that hors d’oeuvres tended to be served “outside” of the main courses of a meal.
The Long and Storied History of the Hors d’oeuvre
The horderve tradition first arose in wealthy medieval households: For example, in medieval France, hors d’oeuvres were known as “entremets” and were served in between larger courses.
The emphasis on a compelling presentation that these small dishes tend to embody at gatherings is also related to their original function within “high” French cuisine: This is because the primary use of hors d’oeuvres in the Middle Ages related to the concept of dishes as entertainment. For a king or lord, feasts and other meals offered opportunities for the display of wealth and power.
To wit, a sumptuous array of foodstuffs at a wealthy patron’s table spoke volumes about the riches of a particular host. In fact, we still associate hors d’oeuvres with “fancy” parties: As it turns out, the aristocratic sheen of these items hasn’t dimmed over the centuries.
Cuisine as Entertainment
This aristocratic history of hors d’oeuvres is also where the famous saying “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” comes from: to entertain guests, nobles would present hors d’oeuvres to the communal table that sometimes featured animals emerging from pie crusts or other dishes. Lords would often have their personal chefs build elaborate side dishes that astonished and delighted guests.
It was probably around this time that the concept of hors d’oeuvres became prevalent in English cuisine: In 1066, William the Conqueror of Normandy in France defeated England’s King Harold in the Battle of Hastings. In the aftermath of this battle, Normandy assumed political control of England.
An Ancient Tradition of High Cuisine
In fact, we still retain many of our most important cooking terms from the Norman conquest of England. This is particularly true with regard to how we still name our meat-based dishes. For example, our word “beef” as a term referring to meat from cows comes from the French word “boeuf”; our word “pork” for meat from pigs comes from the French word “porc”; our word “mutton” for meat from sheep comes from the French word “mouton.”
To wit, wealthy Norman lords would have been some of the only inhabitants of England who could afford meat-based dishes; because these lords spoke French rather than English, their meat-based dishes retained French names. Conversely, Anglo-Saxon peasants retained the original names of animals that they raised on farms and in fields but could usually not afford to eat.
In the wake of the Norman invasion of England, French cuisine and French wine became indelibly associated with aristocratic cooking styles in the English-speaking world from the Middle Ages on. As a country built by English settlers, moreover, the United States carried over this association between French cuisine and high living into American culture. If you’re hosting a fancy cocktail party in the United States, you’ll still usually serve hors d’oeuvres to your guests if you want to give your party a glamorous air. As it turns out, not much has changed in the cooking world over the last 1000 years!