Saucissons, pâtés, rillettes… : French cold cuts vocabulary “la charcuterie” and find out what’s in your plate and how to eat it.
So here is a pretty traditional French charcuterie mix and the way to eat it with respect to French table manners.
Le Pâté de Campagne – Very Common French Charcuterie
Made from pork meat and fat, and a bit of pork liver.
If you eat it during an informal meal, you usually cut a piece with your knife and spread it over a small slice of “baguette”, which you’ll then eat holding it with your hand in a couple of bites.
If you want to be really proper about it, you should tear off a bite-size piece of bread, then cut a bite-size piece of pâté, place it on the bread with your knife, then balance the piece of bread/pâté to your mouth and eat the whole thing in one bite. Then repeat.
You could also make a sandwich with it, but not in this style of luncheon.
Le Jambon Blanc = Regular Ham = A Charcuterie Essential
You know that one. Eat with fork and knife.
Note that in France, we differentiate “jambon blanc” (the cooked version) and “jambon cru” (the uncooked and smoked/aged versions like proscuitto, parma or bayonne).
The ham may have a greasy edge that you may remove with your fork and knife and leave on the side of your plate.
Le Saucisson Sec = French Salami
It’s somewhat similar to Italian salami.
We usually remove the skin before eating it, alone (fork and knife) or with a bite of buttered bread (delicately holding the bread and piece of salami in your hand).
Actually, if I was a good hostess, I should have removed the skin before serving this. But sometimes the skin is hard to remove, which was the case that day!!! So I left it…
Le Saucisson à l’ail = Garlic Sausage
Pork meat with garlic. I personally eat the skin, I’ve seen people remove it.
You eat it alone or with a bite of buttered bread.
Le Pâté en Croûte = The King of the French Charcuterie
Usually made with pork and veal, but could have other meats, and surrounded by a crust, and usually a bit of savory jelly.
You cut it with knife and fork and eat it like that.
L’Andouillette = Tripe Sausage, an Acquired Taste
L5 + L6
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Watch out for that one, it’s quite an… acquired taste :) it’s made with tripes, a French offal, and it has a pretty strong taste.
You usually remove the skin. Eat it alone or with a bite of buttered bread.
We also had…
Du Museau Vinaigrette = Another Weird Cold Cuts: Snout
This one is made with the nose part of a pig, but you wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you.
It tastes like ham and is sold/served in a French Vinaigrette or dressing.
Eat it with fork and knife.
Des Rillettes = A Sort of Pâté
This is like a shredded pork meat pâté, quite fatty, and you spread it on bread.
The jar comes with a layer of fat on top that you usually remove in your plate.
Spread it over a small piece of bread, then eat it with your hand delicately :-)
To go with all this charcuterie, we served:
Des Asperges Blanches (white asparagus) à la Vinaigrette et au Persil
The tip is very tender, but the end can be quite fibrous, so sometimes you don’t eat the end.
Eat with knife and fork.
Tip: In France, you commonly find these white Asparagus ready to eat in cans or glass jars. My father-in-law (a professional chef) always saves some of the water from the container to make the dressing lighter and tastier!
Du Céleri Rémoulade
Shredded celery with a ton of mayo and a bit of mustard (as fatty as charcuterie if not even worse…). Eat with knife and fork.
Hold on the green part, eat the red and white part: put a bit of salt on your plate, bite the radish, dig it in the salt, bite again (it’s your plate, double dipping is allowed!), you may at the same time take a bite of buttered bread.
Leave the green part in your plate.
And of course, eat “des cornichons” (gherkins) at will with all the charcuterie, and drink a lot of French wine!!
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