Saturday, December 11, 2010

Canadian eh?

Michele Renee Cecile Lessard, a little French eh? Since I am a child, I have always added the Canadian to the word French. I am not just French, I am French Canadian! Proud of my Canadian roots, my family, my name, the country and especially the food. Maple butter ( map-o-spread ), Crunchie bars,maple leaf cookies, maple syrup, Tortiere, Sugar pie, and snow candy as we called it,  just to name a few of my favorites. Another one of my favs I have been eating ever since I can remember, is a dish called Pate Chinois. I was told it meant chinese pie but didnt understand why. Noone ever gave me an answer when I was a kid. I didnt really have to know anyway. It was delicious and I couldnt wait for my Grandmother or my aunt to make it. Of course, I then started preparing it. I have made it for my brothers, neices and nephews and my own son. We all seem to love it! I googled it and came up with these possible reasonings for the name.....The first possible explanation for the 'Chinese' reference is that it was introduced to Chinese railway workers by Canadian cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century. These cooks made it under instruction from the English  bosses as an easily-prepared, inexpensive version of the popular shephards pie, with the sauce in the can of creamed-corn serving as a substitute for the gravy. The French Canadian railway workers became fond of it and brought the recipe back with them to their home communities.  Another more probable explanation for the name was traced by Lionel Guimont, a student of linguistics at Laval University, who shared his idea with Quebec language historian Claude Poirier. Mr. Poirier later published an article to this effect. Mr. Guimont had met an old native of Maine who was visiting Canada for the first time and had heard the man call the dish "China pie". Based on the fact that "pâté chinois" would normally translate in "Chinese pie", referring to the country (like in "French fries" as opposed to "*France fries"), Mr. Guimont wondered why the old man said "China pie", which in English refers to a city or a region (like in "Boston cream pie" as opposed to "*Bostonese cream pie"). He then found that two towns in the state of Maine, called China and South China, had been a favorite destination for Québécois forest workers, who came down from la Beauce along the Kennebec river by the turn of the century. Even today, a vast portion of the population of the China region is from Québécois descent and still bear French names so Mr. Guimont concluded that the name "pâté chinois" had not come down to Maine from B.C. via Québec (and become "Chinese pie") but rather went the other way. "China pie" must have been a common dish in lumbering camps and in mills kitchens around China. It had been (wrongly) translated later by the workers returning to Québec into "pâté chinois" because of the awkwardness of "pâté de Chine" in the French language. In parts of Maine, "pâté chinois" is referred to as "Chinese Party" -- phonetically more similar to the French term. How the dish was named is still a mystery to me but it is one of many reasons I love my Canadian heritage. So here is the Roi/Lessard version of Pate Chinois as made by my Grandmother Cecile Roi Lessard. Merci Beaucoup Grand-mere!
Pate Chinois
2 lbs ground beef....browned
1 medium onion chopped
1 tsp olive oil
4 cans corn or creamed corn
Mashed potatoes to cover top of casserole
1.cook the onions in the oil until translucent. Add ground beef and brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Layer meat and onions into casserole dish ( approximately 2in layer )
2. Layer corn ( if using reg corn- drain liquid , if creamed use all of the can) on top of ground beef
3. Layer mashed potatoes on top of corn approximate 2 inch layer
4. Bake in oven at 375 until inside is hot and potatoes are golden brown on top.
It is delicious and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Rappelez-vous, la vie est pleine de délicieuses bouchées!!

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