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Dish 2012 — Welcome 

Call it the foreplay of food: the appetizer. In the same way that we love the apéritifs that supposedly stimulate the appetite, and the amuse-bouches that tease the palate (on the chef's dime), we do love a good starter plate. Something to build up to the main course, to perhaps establish the tone of a meal, or even contrast with the headlining dish. Really almost anything served in a smaller portion could be considered an app, though certain items have become de rigueur across fine dining menus.

As the theme of this, our seventh annual Dish guide, appetizers have taken the form of favorite recipes from 15 of our local restaurants, catering outfits and chefs-at-large. From clams and codfish balls to marrow bones, we've compiled a diverse batch of pre-meal pleasers that are ready to grace your next gathering or family meal.

As always, we'd like to acknowledge the photography of Brienne Boortz and Casey Bradley Gent, which beautifully illustrates this culinary compendium. And we encourage you to patronize these businesses who contributed this year, if you enjoy this small taste of their talents.

— Matthew Schniper

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