Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A little French mince pie!

Some years ago I baked mince pies for Ben's work Christmas Do. Only the older French people eat them (don't you think young people are so conservative?) but they are generally appreciated - and on this one occasion one of Ben's colleagues was a particular fan - they reminded her of a speciality of the town where she grew up! A French mince pie? Remarkable.This week she came back from a visit to her hometown and gave Ben a little package from the Boulangerie Molière - six petits pâtés de Pézenas. They are the bobbin-shaped, sweet-sour tarts for which this Mediterranean town is known.
We knew from our discussion years back that these pies are more like the mince pies of Olde England - they have mutton and beef in them as well as dried fruit, spices and lemons. And they aren't reserved for Christmas.
We warmed them up and ate them with a raw veg salad (thinking of Serenata!)...They were great! The mutton is really strong, which is an unusual taste for a modern Brit, but the overwhelming flavour of sucrée-salée is just like that of a mince pie. I knew there had to be some English connection - perhaps from the Middle Ages, when Crusaders came back with the original dried fruit/sweet and sour recipes? It turns out that the connection is much more recent, and is Anglo-Indian, rather than Middle Eastern. Lord Clive, the Governor of India, spent some time in Pézenas, and used to give soirées where the main delicacy was these little meat tarts. On leaving the town he gave them the gift of his recipe! This all dates to 1768 - what a lovely French/British/Indian connection we have unwittingly linked in to...If you'd like to know more about this delightful cardinal bird, and, more specifically about how we're going to be thinking our way through the Cardinal Virtues in Lent, please check out the post below.


Angela said...

The pies look amazing! I think I should like them with mashed root vegetables and rich gravy.

And what an intriguing history too.

sandy said...

I just happened upon you here. Enjoyed your blog and the mouth watering food pictured. I started following you. Would love to have you visit my blog and follow also.



wendz said...

We love Pezenas - it's a place we've spent a lot of time in and once thought about buying a place there! But those's not something I can say I would enjoy - not being a lover of mutton. But, the story behind them is fascinating. And your vegetable salad looks delicious.

VintageVicki said...

They look very different. Like the others I think they'd work well with gravy and a small mountain of mash :)

Are you going to try and make some?

Sarah said...

How interesting - and I love the shape! A while ago Jame Oliver was talking about the origins of various recipes, spices etc and how over the years they get 'muddled' up so we end up with something completely different. I can't immediately think of one right now but it was fascinating.

Pom Pom said...

Interesting! My mother used to make them, Granny did as well. I don't think I have ever tasted a mince pie.
Your supper looks beautiful!
I like the PIL logo, Floss.

Nancy McCarroll - Arts, Crafts and Favorites said...

This reminds me of the Supersizers which we have been watching on tv; love the period costumes and the meat pies!

(I posted today on A PAUSE IN LENT and put your button on my blog.)

Carole said...

Amazing ! I never knew that they were a specialty, and we used to go to a village 15 km from Pézenas on holiday ! If I go again I sure will pay that bakery a visit.

As for young people being conservative, well... I used to be like this when I was a child. I didn't eat what I didn't know ! My diet was almost exclusively composed of potatoes, pasta and some vegetables. I never wanted to taste the nems or exotic things my dad would cook !

Gill said...

French mince pies eh???
I'm not a fan of mutton (we used to eat a lot when we were young!) so I think I'll be sticking with British mince pies!
Still loving the cardinal bird!

A Trifle Rushed said...

Oh the French do make me laugh, whenever I cook anything traditionally English in Brittany, our friends and neighbours try desperately to find the equivalent, (and of course superior) French version.

I have to say those little pies remind me of the meat pies you get in Scotland! LOL. Jude x