My heritage is Acadian. Acadians immigrated to the Maritimes from France in the 1600’s and established an extensive agricultural and pacifist economy. In 1755, when they refused to pledge allegiance to the ruling British, they were deported from their homeland in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island – an area also known as Acadie. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized the event through a fictional character Evangéline, helping make the expulsion well known.The popular Acadian group, “1755” (now disbanded) from Moncton NB, added to the understanding of Acadians, their cultures and their ways.
Speaking of Evangéline, this is a picture of me representing Evangéline for the Acadian Festival in 1972. The gentleman on the left is a good friend. He was Gabriel.
Plan the menu. Invite friends. Prepare meal. Eat. Be merry.
Salt Cod Fritters with aioli sauce on a bed of arugula
Meat pie served with molasses and cranberry sauce
Pâté à la Râpure served with molasses and cranberry sauce
Blueberry Grunt with dumplings (not cake or crumble)
Pâté à la Râpure is a true Acadian dish. The main ingredient is potatoe.
Quick Step Recipe:
Boil a fowl with onions, salt and pepper. Cool and debone the chicken and cut into reasonable size chunks. Keep the stock. Grate the potatoes and remove all the starch by squeezing potatoes through a cotton bag until you have a very dry, flour-like powder. Slowly replace the amount of starch removed, with boiling stock one cup at a time, stirring constantly. The hot stock will start the baking process and turn potatoes into a gluey off-white mess. In a large deep pan, bake pieces of salted lard to coat the pan. Keep half of the lard pieces for topping. Pour half the potato mixture in the pan and spread all the chicken pieces over top. Top with remaining glue mixture and sprinkle with baked lard pieces. Bake at 350˚F until golden brown, 2 hours or so. Let sit until firm. Et voilà! The râpure is eaten with molasses or cranberry sauce. Appetizing? Some of our friends thought so and I was grateful it didn’t end up in the garbage. I’m also thankful for having my younger sister and her husband help us make it.
When I was growing up, I remember making râpure with my parents. It seemed we made enough to feed all of the relatives and neighbors. To speed up the process, my father made a special grater to grate the 10lbs+ of potatoes needed. It was a piece of tin about 12 inches by 20 inches attached to two pieces of wood. He hammered nail holes throughout. It looked like a washing board. I wonder where it ended up? My Mother made the bag and it resembled a jelly bag but bigger. It took strong hands to squeeze the starch out.
I want to tell you an earlier adventure about Pâté à la Râpure. My French accent was very prominent in my first year at an English university. I had a roommate whose parents would invite us to dinner on Sundays. They were both doctors and I felt intimidated eating at their home, table so beautifully set.
He knew I was French and asked if I could explain this dish called “Pâté à la Râpure”. “Oh”, I said, “it’s easy, you take potatoes and rape them!” gesturing with my hands how it was done. (Râper in English is to grate). They smiled politely as I continued to explain the dish. “You use de chicken juice and mix into de raped potatoes”, the story went on.
Wanting to carry on conversation on another topic, I asked, “Do you know you can see de “Vierge Marie” in a lobster?” “Really, where?” he said. “Between de testicules” I added. Silence … followed by abrupt laughter. When we left, I was told of my mistake. We did get invited again on many occasions. I loved their food and they loved the company.