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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie with French Lesson

(Front porch light) 

Out on the front porch this morning, using my two-knives method to cut lard into flour to make piecrust, I started thinking about the two French words pâte and paté. The first, pâte, is pronounced close to the English word pot and is used for both pastry and pasta. (The little accent circonflex – that little pointed cap over the letter ‘a’ – is your clue. That particular accent is a historical trace; it tells you that in Old French there was once an ‘s’ following the vowel, an ‘s’ that has been retained in English and Italian.) Paté, pronounced as two syllables, with stress on the second, is a “paste” of ground meat and fat, served spread on toast rounds or crackers.

Ready to roll

Whenever I think of either of these two words, I remember that I used to pronounce them the same way, using the meat pronunciation erroneously for the piecrust term. I’ve got them straight now and have given you the clue.

But once I start thinking about the accent circonflex it’s hard to stop, and the next word I always think of is théâtre, but today I had a new thought about that word. French, Italian, Spanish – all are Romance languages, i.e., rooted in Latin. So I begin to think of God and the stars. Is that possible? Nope, guess not. Too bad. I like my etymological origins story better....

Some people like a flaky piecrust, while others prefer crumbly. A famous piemaker of my acquaintance thinks crust is secondary, pretty much just a container for the filling. Really???

My switch to lard is still recent, but I’m happy with the results.

I’m also very pleased with this little pie safe my sister found for me. I’ve been needing something like this for a long time.


  1. I love crust and yours is always delicious. Looks beautiful too.

  2. That pie was just as delicious as it looks. I know because I had some.