Not all patés are created equal

As a child I was an extraordinarily fussy eater. My staples were chicken, cheese and fruit, with a few less-usual foods thrown in. I loved guacamole and I simply adored paté (though not at the same time).

Australian paté and French paté are quite different. Upon arrival in France I discovered that not all patés are created equal.

In France, one has the delicious choice between mousse, terrine, paté and of course – foie gras.

French mousse comes in many flavours, from the deliciously earthy mousse de cepes to mousse de canard and, just to confuse the issue even further, mousse de foie. What Australian’s refer to as paté is closest to French mousse.  That is, a smooth, slightly creamy consistency, with one dominant flavour.

Terrine and paté are quite closely linked and refer to a chunkier, ‘loaf’-style meat. In essence, a paté can either be cooked in a pastry shell, en croute, or in a special dish called a terrine – thus the similarity, and perhaps some of the confusion between the two. A popular, country-style terrine is paté de compagne.

Foie gras is the most expensive, and controversial of choices. French law currently protects the right to continue with irrefutably unpleasant methods of foie gras production. For those who can look past how it is made, the product itself is a national French delicacy and a frequent feature at the French Christmas table. It is absolutely divine served on pain d’épices with a glass of sticky, sweet Sauternes.

Which is your favourite?

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Deli selection image courtesy of Phil Romans on Flickr.
Pate de compagne image courtesy of stijin on Flickr.
Foie gras with pain d’epices macarons image courtesy of vincen-t on FLickr.

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4 thoughts on “Not all patés are created equal

  1. I actually don’t really like the pâté made in Australia. I guess this is due to a bad experience: I once ordered pâte in a highly rated Sydney restaurant, and they served me a disgusting chicken liver pâté! Who eats chicken pâte!?! Come on guys! Never saw that in France! It was like a mousse/foam with a quite liquid texture. I couldn’t eat it. Otherwise I love pâté de canard, pâté de sanglier, et aussi pâté de porc. I of course love foie gras too.

    • That’s interesting, I’ve never had Australian pâté in a restaurant, only from a deli, and perhaps because I grew up with it I quite like the taste. That said, I think a Women’s Weekly ‘French’ Cookbook circa 1975 is to blame for the prevalence of chicken live pâté!

      I’ve never tried pâté de sanglier – I will have to put it on my list!

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