There is a raised eyebrow, some glamour and a degree of skill to the new amuse-bouche. But, crucially, the vibe is achievable frivolity rather than intimidating cheffiness. And this has led to a vital interplay between professional chefs and domestic ones (try deep-fried olive at restaurant, attempt for friends, rinse and repeat) that equally feels like a product of the time.
“I think people are realising these things are quite simple and doable at home,” Cloake says. “Even if the main food you’re doing is quite straightforward, if you bring out the devilled eggs or skewered rollmops, then it’s quite impressive.”
What’s more, if we shift focus to gilda and those other seemingly effortless nibbles that are heavily influenced by continental drinking culture, the lasting hangover of lockdown may be manifesting in a different way. “I think that what people have realised they miss from travelling, especially around Europe, is that kind of food,” Pryce says. “A bar slices some meat they didn’t make, opens some fish they didn’t pack, pours some wine they didn’t produce – and yet it’s still remarkable.”
Fundamentally, this desire to spark those joyful associations – of sweltering holidays in San Sebastián, Porto or Venice – are part of the same nostalgic impulse that has many of us raiding the 1970s for amuse-bouche ideas. Rightly or wrongly, what all these vibrant, lightly camp snacks represent is a conscious retreat to what we might term our respective happy places. Done correctly, the retro amuse bouche is both knowing wink and culinary security blanket.
“Everything is cyclical,” Cloake says. “It may be that, in fashion terms, the devilled egg is the cargo trouser of the culinary world. But I think there’s something about our childhood memories of what was exotic or glamorous. Maybe it feels quite safe to us.”
This is the sensation that you will find skewered on the end of a stick or heaped onto a little nduja-smeared piece of toast. Silliness, a naggingly familiar brand of surprise and – after the undulating difficulties of the past couple of years – a reminder that great food should leave you with a whacking, great grin, rather than a contemplatively furrowed brow. Are you not amused? If you are eating correctly at the moment, you certainly will be.