Pâtés and Terrines. An introduction to the meat, fish, vegetable and fruit pates on French menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman



Meat and liver pates are sold in charcuterie-traiteurs.
The name for French full-service delicatessens.
Photograph courtesy of Christian MANGE

The words pâté and terrine are used interchangeably for pate on French menus. Note the word pâté, pate in English has an accent over the â and the é.  Pates are not limited to ground liver, meat, or fish served as a spreadable paste. Chefs often include other ingredients for contrasts in taste and texture. Accompanying many pates will be a fruit or vegetable jam or chutney and country bread or toast. Fruit and vegetable pâtés and or terrines may also be on the menu.
The English word tureen, meaning a covered cooking or serving dish was taken from the French word terrine in the 1800s. Then a terrine was used for baking or otherwise preparing a pate and did not also mean the pate inside the terrine. (Many other French cooking utensils have been given or received their names from the dish in which they were prepared. (e.g., A marmite is a French saltwater fish or seafood stew and also the dish in which it is made).
Look for pâté with the accents over the â and é 
Pâté with the accents over the â and é to a French diner only mean pate. The French word pâte with a single accent over the â has a very different meaning! That may cause some tasty confusion if you do not look out for it.   There is an explanation of the meanings behind pate with a single accent at the end of this post.

                    Terrines as cooking utensils.

Pates that may be on your menu in France:

Pâté Chaud – A liver and or meat pate; served hot. 

Pâté de Lapin Chaud – A hot rabbit pate.
Le Petit Pâté Chaud de Faisan, Fricassée de Champignons aux Senteurs de Truffes – A small, hot, pheasant pate served with sautéed button mushrooms and flavored with truffle essence.

Pâté de Campagne - A country-style pate. Country style pates are usually not finely ground and traditionally include both pork meat and pork liver. If the pâté is not pork, the menu will say so.
Terrine de Campagne et sa Confiture d'Oignons A country-style pork-based pate served with an onion jam.   
Terrine de Campagne Maison aux Pommes et Calvados – A country-style pork-based pate served with cooked apples and flavored with Calvados apple brandy.
Pâté de Campagne

Pâté de Foie Gras – A spreadable pate made from the fattened liver of ducks or geese.  Foie gras is an essential part of French cuisine; it is part of the French psyche.  The minimum amount of duck or goose liver in any dish that includes foie gras is regulated by French government regulations.  By law, a pate de foie gras must contain at least 50% fattened duck or goose liver. The other 50% usually includes pork, chicken liver, and eggs.  Pates made with different ingredients are not regulated. When pâté de foie gras is on your menu, and it does not explicitly note that the fattened liver is goose liver, oie, then it will be the less expensive fattened duck liver that is being used.
Pate de foie gras

La Terrine de Foie Gras à la Gelée de Porto – A pate of fattened duck liver served with a jelly (aspic), flavored with Port wine.
La Terrine de Foie Gras d'Oie et sa Gelée au Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives – A pate of fattened goose liver served with jelly from the liver’s cooking juices flavored with the sweet, white Late Harvest Pinot Gris AOC/AOP wine from the Alsace.  Sweet wines are, by tradition, served with fattened liver along with a sweet fruit or vegetable jam.  The first choice may be a white Sauterne from Bordeaux, but among many gourmands, the sweet late harvest wines of the Alsace may be preferred. I enjoy them both.

Pâté de Gibiers -  Wild game pate.  The game pate on most menus come from farmed animals.  If the pate was part of a hunting season menu that would be a "Menu de la Chasse". On a regular menu, a really wild game pate will be listed as "Pâte de Gibiers Sauvage."  Wild game animals are, during a short season, legally hunted. They include faisan, pheasant; sanglier, wild boarchevreuil, roe deer; and caille, quail.
Pâté de Gibier en Croûte et sa Salade de Mâche – A game pate cooked in a loaf of bread or in another covering and served with a lamb’s lettuce salad.

Pâté en Croûte de Gibier à Plumes et sa Compôte à l'Echalote – A game bird pate prepared inside a loaf of bread or other covering served with stewed, and sweetened shallots.

Pâté de Cerf aux Marrons – A venison pate served with chestnuts.

Pâté de Gibier aux Canneberges Maison, Toasts de Pain BlancWild game pate served with a special house cranberry sauce and toasted white bread.
Pâté en Croûte Pate cooked, and served, with a pastry, bread or other covering. The other coverings or coatings include vegetables, herbs, fruit, and leaves.  

Pâté en Croûte de Canard Mallard, Condiment Aigre-doux – A pate of mallard duck served with a sweet and sour condiment that the diner may add to his or her taste. (This is not a fattened duck pate).

Pâté en Croûte
Le Pâté en Croûte, Jardinet de Saison – A pate prepared in a loaf of bread or other covering served with a small mixed salad.  (A jardinet is a small garden, here the name is used to indicate a small salad).
Pâté en Croûte de Perdreau et Pintade aux Poivres Verts, Salade de Navets et Coulis de Pruneaux – A pate of a young partridge and Guinea fowl prepared with green peppercorns and served with a turnip salad and stewed prunes.

Pâté Lorraine - A traditional pork meat pate, sometimes mixed with veal, from the Lorraine in the super-region of the Grande Est in Northern France. It is usually prepared with a pastry covering. It may be served hot or cold.
Pâté Hénaff  - Hénaff is the largest producer of pre-prepared pates and similar conserves in France – The product is highly rated and will be on some small restaurant menus.

Pâté Maison – The restaurant’s or chef’s special pate. When no further explanation is given, it pays to ask, or you may miss out on something special, though house pates are usually a mixed chicken liver and pork liver pate.

Pâté Forestière – A liver and or meat pâté with mushrooms.   

Paté Vigneron – A vintner’s pate.

Pâté Vigneron et sa Sauce au Vin  - A chopped meat and pork pate served with a wine sauce.

 Pâté Vigneron Chaud Maison – The house’s distinctive take on a wine grower’s pate served hot.
Pâté Vigneron - A vintner's pate.

Other terrines and pates:

Terrine de Foie de Volaille -  A chicken liver pate.

Terrine de Faisan aux Poires – A pheasant pate served with cooked pears.

Terrine de Gambas aux Légumes  Confits – A shrimp pate served with accompanied by vegetable confit, vegetables that have been slowly cooked, Vegetable confits often have the consistency of a jam.
A vegetable terrine with a salad.
Terrine de Sanglier aux Noix, Chutney de Mirabelle – Wild boar pate prepared with walnuts and served with a Mirabelle plum chutney.  (The Mirabelle is a small yellow to reddish plum and France’s favorite for cooking).

Terrine du Pêcheur – A fisherman’s pate, a fish pate. 

Pâte, with a single accent over the â does not mean an English pate.

The word pâte, with the accent over the a, in French cuisine, has at least four different meanings, and none of them mean pate in English. The most well-known meaning of pâte indicates a pastry dough or batter.

The different types of pastry dough
all begin with the single accented pâte.

Pâte Brisée – A pastry used to make pie crusts for classic French tartes.
Pâte à Choux or Pâte Choux–  One of  France’s most popular puff pastries and it is the puff pastry used for éclairs, etc.,

Pâte Levée Feuilletée or Pâte à Croissants - The dough used for croissants.
Pâte à croissant

Pâtes on your menu may also mean pasta.
The pasta that we call spaghetti, linguine, vermicelli, etc.  

All French versions of pasta will be on the menu under the menu heading of pâtes.
Tagliatelles de Pâte Fraîche aux Epinards et Champignons des Bois – Fresh tagliatelle served with spinach and wild mushrooms.

Pâte Fraîche – Fresh pasta

Pâtes in a fromagerie, a cheese shop, or on the cheese trolley.

A fromage à pâte persillée is a blue-veined cheese. Roquefort and the Bleu d'Auvergne AOC are among the best of France’s many excellent blue cheeses. Caveat Emptor: Persillé, in French cuisine also has different meanings, mostly used for flavoring made with parsley and garlic while persil alone means parsley, the herb.
Fromages à pâte persillée - Blue cheese.
Pâte de fruits are densely made crystallized fruits.

The most well-known crystallized fruits are called fruits confits.
Pâte de fruits.
My problems with French accents.

When I began to keep notes on my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks in France, I did so along with the discussions about the dishes served. However, I ignored the French accents. The notes were only intended for my use, a crutch for my bad memory. Later, when it was suggested I print out my notes, I discovered that I had enough information for a book or two and lots of posts for a blog on French cuisine.  For the (still unpublished) book and this blog, I had to put the accents in after a large part was written. I have checked them, and despite my hard work, I may still have some errors left in and for those, I apologize.


Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman




Copyright 2010, 2012, 2017, 2019

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