A Brief History of Pâtés & Terrines

There’s nothing better than settling into your favorite chair with a glass of red wine and a crusty baguette, spread with a mouthwatering pâté. It’s one of our very favorite ways to unwind. But how did this incredible food come to be?

What is Pâté ?
Pâté is roughly translated from the French to mean something like a “paste” or coarse mixture. It as a mixture of ground meats and fat to which other savory herbs and spices are added. With a dash of port wine or sherry thrown in (historically for good health!) the mixture is then baked in a loaf like “terrine”.

The History of Pâté
The origin of pâté is rooted in all of the northern and central European cuisines. In the Middle Ages, it was in fact, a staple of the European country side, the “Campagne” where meat, game, and poultry were raised, slaughtered, and prepared for food on the homestead. The pâté evolved as an economical and flavorful way to use all of the animal.

It was the French who adopted the pâté as a medium for creative exploration, introducing more complex flavors and new texture of the more finely ground “mousse”. Today pâté remains a mainstay of the French diet. 25% of French people eat pâté at least once per week and 68% of French people consume pâté at least once per month. In recent decades it has become a favorite nibble and first choice of hors d’oeuvre in millions of households across America.

Pâtés, Mousses, and Terrines: What’s the difference?

These words are typically used casually but they are all used interchangeably to refer to a baked ground mixture of meat, poultry or game ingredients (and sometimes vegetable and seafood as well), that have been combined with spices and a liquor. We use the word Pâté today to describe this type of food in a general sense, more as a “category”. The finer points of differentiation might refer to that of texture such as a Mousse which characterizes the refinement of the mixture to be very smooth, creamy and spreadable. The “Country” or “Coarse Cut” style is a coarser grind and served as cubes, or as a slice. A Terrine, historically describes the earthenware or plastic container in which the pâté or mousse is baked. Today it can describe a loaf shape of any meat, poultry, game, vegetable or seafood mixture.

Take care however, when speaking about Foie Gras. These French words describe a duck or goose liver that has been fattened and enlarged by a special process to give it a very rich flavor and buttery mouthfeel. Any pâté, mousse, or terrine may contain duck or goose liver, but that is NOT to say it is Foie Gras unless it is labeled as such.

The Legacy of Alexian
We at Alexian have worked for the last 36 years to spread our love for pâté across the country. From our early days, we’ve grown to have 20 varieties. Each begins as a handcrafted recipe with hours and hours of care put into perfecting it. From there, each batch is cooked with the same love we’d use to feed our own families.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic, country-style pâté, or a vegan creation – we have a pâté or terrine that will fit your tastes. Explore all of our varieties and find your match here.

Add comment

Security code

   © 2024 ALEXIAN