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Culinarily Handicapped - pate, foie gras, etc.

Culinarily Handicapped - pate, foie gras, etc.

Oct 27th, 2000, 02:21 PM
  #1  
Joan
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Culinarily Handicapped - pate, foie gras, etc.

Please educate me about these specialties of France. During our visit there last month I was too inhibited to order or try these because 1) I don't really know what they are and 2) don't know how you eat them. Pates I figure are a spread but made from what? Do you spread it on a cracker or bread? Is it only an appetizer or side dish? Is the pate you see in cans in the grocery store worth trying and what brand is good? Do you just pop open the lid and start spreading or is it served with something? Secondly, is foie gras that gelatin stuff that comes sliced? Do you eat it with a fork or spread it on something as well? Are both always served cold? Is foie gras always duck (what is it anyway)? Culinary class 101. Would love to be more educated. Thanks!
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 02:35 PM
  #2  
elaine
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Hi
Pate is a generic name for a spread usually made from meat products, can be any combination of ingredients like pork, poultry liver, beef, vegetables, mushrooms, seasonings, wine, etc. It is offered as an appetizer/first course. Like peanut butter, it can be smooth or chunky style. The chunky ones, sometimes called pate de compagne (country pate)
don't have to be spread on toast or crackers, they can be eaten with a fork.
Sometimes other ingredients are added or subtracted, it can even be all vegetable, and the dish can be referred to as a terrine which is actually the name of the loaf pan-shaped vessel it is packed into.
Sometimes terrines and country pates are accompanied by items like small sour pickles (cornichons).
Smooth pate, usually made from duck or goose livers and other ingredients, aremore citified,can also contain more expensive ingredients like cognac, truffles (fungi that grow underground), etc. Smooth pate is usually spread on bread, toast, or crackers.
Foie gras means fattened liver, and at it's best (or worst, depending on whether you have PETA concerns)
refers to the liver of a goose that has been especially fattened to increase the size and fat content of its liver. It is not good for you, but at it's best tastes sublime, at least to me.
It is quite expensive in restaurants.
It can be served "whole" as a lobe of the liver, sometimes sauteed with items
like sauternes (sweet wine) or apples or other fruites. Pate de foie gras
is a smooth pate made of this goose liver,perhaps with other ingredients.
Usually served elegantly with warm toast triangles or bread.
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 02:52 PM
  #3  
elaine
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Just to keep things confusing, an extra-smooth pate can even be referred to as a mousse, for example a
mousse de canard aux truffes
a smooth pate made of duck liver and truffles.
I also forgot to add that
sauteed foie gras is cooked to order and served warm. The pate de foie gras is usually served room temp or very slightly chilled. The pate de compagne and the liver mousses are also usually slightly chilled or room temp.
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 03:42 PM
  #4  
Joan
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Fabulous Elaine! Thanks for all the info. I did bring home a can of pate from a grocery store and am curious to try it. Should I just serve it cold with crackers and/or those little toasts? Also, what was that gelatin sliced thing I would see in the windows?
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 04:22 PM
  #5  
nancy
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Please don't get me wrong!!!
I used to love pate/ foie gras, and I must admit, I probably indulge in it at least once a year and still enjoy the taste very much.
But!
just on a health note, besides being *very * fatty, this product is the liver of an animal.
The purpose of any animal's liver, ours included, is to filter out ALL the junk, waste, toxins, etc from our bodies.
Alot of junky stuff ends up going through this organ.
Just a thought to keep in mind.
nancy
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 05:05 PM
  #6  
Patrick
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Well, thanks a lot, Nancy. I have always loved foie gras and splurged both the calories and the money more often than I should to indulge in it, but after that last little tidbit, it will be much harder to enjoy it. Maybe I should thank you for improving our French traveling budget. Of course, my stock answer is: "and tell me what you think eggs are??" I used to love the story about the woman in the NY deli. "What is the special today?" "Tongue on rye." "Oh, my, I couldn't possibly eat anything that came out of a cow's mouth, just bring me an egg salad sandwich."
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 05:55 PM
  #7  
Josh
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Make sure you spread your pate on unsalted, unflavored crackers or toast points. The purpose of the cracker is to make the pate easy to handle and to add texture...not to add flavor. Ritz is a fine cracker but will distort the flavor of good pate. Try broken matza or good bread points (no Wonder bread!).
There is a lot of mediocre quality pate's at local grocers...splurge on some good stuff at gourmet shops, wine shops, or try www.balducci.com (Manhattan grocer w/ great specialty items-they also sell fois gras).
If you attempt to cook fois gras at home, check a Julia Child cookbook (she has several) for a recipe...it's easy to ruin. Slice it thin & fry w/ salt & pepper over high heat w/ NO OIL...the fat content prevents sticking.
Be daring on your next trip; try the local fare. You might hate it, or it might turn out to be your favorite dish. Either way, it will be one more memory to associate with your travel. I will never forget my first osso buco in Rome...or Munich's wurst...or the salmon mousse in Vienna.
Sorry to ramble on, but food and drink are often among the most memorable points of our travels; some bad, but mostly great.
Be daring and bon appetit.
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 06:37 PM
  #8  
Vanessa
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Joan,
Great question. I have the same problem. I always want to try different foods, but I get nervous about trying to eat something different or difficult to eat in public.
That scene from Pretty Woman haunts me, the one where she is in that fancy french restaurant with Richard Gere and she is eating escargot or something and she is using some strange utensil that flips it and the waiter catches it.
And it's funny because when I am in in France I won't try these foods they are known for, but when I come home, I will try different foods here. I guess I'm afraid of causing some type of international incident.
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 10:04 PM
  #9  
elvira
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And just to make things more confusing:
pate with a little ' over the e is the aforementioned mushed up duck or goose liver - or, chicken, which is called chopped liver in every deli and Jewish household.
Then there's pate, with a little ^ over the a, and that's pasta. Pate is also crust, like in tarts or quiches.
Carr's and other companies make water crackers/biscuits, which, like plain matza, are perfect for the pate with a ' over the e.
And that stuff in gelatin is usually some sort of terrine, with meat and veggies and spices. Or it's head cheese, and that's indescribable.
 
Oct 27th, 2000, 11:23 PM
  #10  
Carol
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Joan, here's the other side of the foie gras question, please check these sites out before you indulge. I saw an investigation on tv and had nightmares for weeks.

http://home.intekom.com/animals/info...se/slide5.html

http://www.advocatesforanimals.org/c...feed_index.htm
 
Oct 28th, 2000, 04:36 AM
  #11  
nancy
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Oh Patrick,
Now I feel bad.
Didn't mean to ruin foie gras for you.
I just think that it is good to be aware of all the where's and what's concerning what we put in our mouths!
I mean before you ate tripe, wouldn't you want to know where that came from in the animal?
As I said, I love foie gras and still do eat it.
And please don't let what I said stop you from sampling some in France.
Nancy
 
Oct 28th, 2000, 04:39 AM
  #12  
nancy
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Patrick,
had to eat tongue as a child, so I'll take that egg sandwich too.
nancy
 
Oct 30th, 2000, 02:09 PM
  #13  
Mike
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Nancy

Just to get really gross. I believe that the liver is fattened by force feeding the birds on maize - a funnel is jammed down their gullet and the grain poured in. The birds are taken inside for the last few weeks of their life for this, so I reckon that foie gras is one of the least likely animal product to be contaminated by environmental grislies, being the product of such a pure and intensive production system - and it's the strangest tasting corn flake any of us are ever going to eat!

Of course it sounds disgusting, but I have seen this being done once, and, I kid you not, the birds were fighting to get at the funnel. They seemed to love it.
 
Oct 30th, 2000, 03:00 PM
  #14  
nancy
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ACK!
 
Oct 31st, 2000, 02:56 AM
  #15  
Eh?????
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I've asked before & got no reply so here goes again - what the HELL is "Head Cheese" ?????
 
Oct 31st, 2000, 06:03 AM
  #16  
elvira
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Head cheese is made with pieces of pork or cow (let's just say they aren't the parts you see in the supermarket meat case), which is cooked and spiced, then put into aspic (sort of like Jello fruit salad, but meat gelatin instead of lime jello, and meat bits instead of fruit cocktail). I know it's also a French food (fromage de tete? or something like that). Sounds yummy, doesn't it?
 
Nov 3rd, 2000, 10:16 AM
  #17  
Lesley
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Real foie gras (duck or goose) is delicious. I've been very disappointed with the tins I've taken home. They are usually "bloc de foie gras", which is more like ordinary pate. The best foie is "entier" (meaning whole, not much added to it) and you find it in the chiller section in clear plastic bags.
Lots of restaurants serve their own home-made foie gras.
It is usually served with pieces of toast because it's too rich just to eat with a knife and fork, but Joan, don't worry about HOW to eat anything. Just eat it any way you feel like. No-one is going to point their finger at you and say "look at that woman eating foie gras with her fork". The french, unlike us English, are more interested in actually eating than with the manners of eating. As a French friend once said to me, "The English taught the world how to eat, but the French eat".
 
Nov 3rd, 2000, 10:53 AM
  #18  
Fwhiteside
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What about Caviar ? Does anybody really like the stuff ? I had ( so called ) Beluga caviar as part of a meal in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago. It certainly was nothing to write home about. Tasted just like the Lumpfish Roe I once had in Germany. Just a fishy taste.
 
Nov 3rd, 2000, 11:28 AM
  #19  
cherie
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I love pate, terrines and caviar. Pate can be either coarse (country style) with bits of cracked perrer and spices round in or smooth, more like peanut butter in consistency. Terrines, however, are made usually in a form which gives them a shape. Usually, layers of fat are put in the form or dish first, then layeres of ground softened materials wrapped around a whole item like a piece of fish or a vegetable and then another layer of fat. The whole thing is baked slowly and then through a chimney, aspic (either vegetable or meat juices) are poured in so that the whole finished terrine does not collapse when the food shrnks during cooking. When it is sliced, the terrine will have a center showing what the "theme" is, (i.e., fish, vegetable, etc) and bits of colorful spices and ground bits following the terrine's flavor. Some terrines are stuffed into the skin of whatever it is made of as a final display, but this is a more ancient method and much more dificult. As for caviar, the best way I know to eat it is in "Potatoes Alexander" where caviar is the topping on a baked potatoe that haas been scooped out like a canoe from its skin, mixed with butter, sour cream and chives, and re-piped into the skin. Then caviar is topped (about a teaspoon) on that, and a wedge of lemon.....my mouth waters at the prospect. -Cher Culinary 101
 
Nov 3rd, 2000, 11:44 AM
  #20  
Fwhiteside
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Cherie, can you expand on caviar ? What is the 'real thing' supposed to taste like ( other than 'fishy' ? ). How can you tell you've been given the 'proper stuff' ? I once read ( or saw on TV ) that the genuine article is a dirty brown colour rather than black ???
 

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