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From Clarissa Dickson Wright's A History of English Food (2012):

[In the 1920s, British] hostesses also started to serve canapés: little cheese Parmentiers, asparagus rolled in thin brown bread and butter, delicate crab patties, and, of course, the ubiquitous vol-au-vents [...] (source)

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737–1813) was a French proponent of the potato.

Googling "cheese Parmentier" just wants to tell me about hachis Parmentier, basically a French version of shepherd's pie, dating back to at least 1898. ("Hachis" here I think is French for "a chopped-up thing," and has no relation to the Spanish word for "hashish," but I'd appreciate some authoritative enlightenment on that point too.)

Hachis Parmentier does contain both cheese and potatoes, and also phonetically sounds like "(ha-) cheese Parmentier"; the only reasons I'm doubting this identification are (1) that I can't find any evidence at all that anyone's ever actually referred to hachis Parmentier as "cheese Parmentier," and (2) little shepherd's pies sound like they'd make terribly messy canapés.

So, what did Clarissa Dickson Wright mean by "little cheese Parmentiers"?

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    Not quite an answer, but might it be a misspelling of palmiers? – Johanna Jun 19 at 18:19
  • @Johanna: That's a very plausible idea! Savory cheese palmiers "make wonderful appetisers to go with drinks" according to at least one online recipe. :) – Quuxplusone Jun 19 at 18:26
  • @Johanna That was my thought too; if you made it into an answer it'd get an upvote from me. – dbmag9 Jun 19 at 18:44
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Some quick Googling leads me to believe these are "Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage" (literally 'mouthfuls'), which seem to be some sort of potato-and-cheese croquette.

To find this, I did a Google image search for "Parmentier au fromage". This shows many different dishes (lots of which are indeed shepherd's pie-like, but it also gives a few hits on the Bouchées. These seem to be perfect as a canapé, so fit the description in OP's question. Searching for "Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage" yields only these. It's admittedly not a water-tight argument, but it's the best I could find.

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  • I like the link, but this answer is missing some elaboration on why you're led to believe that "cheese Parmentiers" should be the same thing as "bouchées Parmentier." As I said in the question, the eponym "Parmentier" is applied to just about anything with potato in it, so all we've got to go on is "cheese-potato-canapé." You've given an example of a cheese-potato canapé... but do you have any further evidence for why it might be this one as opposed to some other one? – Quuxplusone Jun 19 at 21:43
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    @Quuxplusone I have updated my answer. I think it's this cheese-potato canapé, because it's the only one I could find that is called "Parmentier au fromage", and is still a canapé. – LSchoon Jun 20 at 7:41

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