Chinese pie

Chinese pie

Chinese pie, ( _fr. pâté chinois) is a French Canadian dish similar to English cottage pie and French "hachis Parmentier". It is made from layered ground beef (sometimes mixed with sautéed diced onions) on the bottom layer, canned corn (either whole-kernel, creamed, or a mix) for the middle layer, and mashed potatoes on top. Variations may include sprinkling paprika on top of the potatoes, reversing the layering of ingredients, adding diced bell peppers to the ground beef, and serving the dish with pickled eggs or beets. Paté chinois is often consumed with ketchup mixed in.

Name origins

Chinese pie is not a Chinese recipe. In fact, the ingredients in this recipe are not found in many recipes from China. One possible explanation for the 'Chinese' reference is that it was introduced to French Canadian railway workers by Chinese cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century. These cooks made it under instruction from the railway bosses (of English extraction) as an easily-prepared, inexpensive version of the popular cottage pie, with the sauce in the tinned 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. From there it was brought to the textile mill communities of Maine (Lewiston, Maine), New Hampshire (Manchester, New Hampshire), Massachusetts (e.g. Lowell and Lawrence) and Rhode Island (Woonsocket, Rhode Island) where many French Canadians immigrated to work in the mills during the early 20th century. Anglicisation of the name to 'Chinese pie' occurred as these immigrants began to use English as a secondary and, eventually, as their primary language.

Another explanation is found in "A Taste of Quebec" by Julian Armstrong: "the name was traced by Quebec language historian Claude Poirier to a town in the state of Maine called China. In the 19th century, thousands of Quebecers migrated to the northeastern United States to work in the mills. Those who settled in the town of China eventually returned to Quebec with a recipe for shepherd's pie, which they called 'pâté chinois'".

Cultural references

In the Québécois humorous television program "La Petite Vie", pâté chinois is used to show one of the character's abysmal lack of common sense as she regularly fails to properly prepare it, for example, by laying the three ingredients side by side instead of layering them, or forgetting to mash the potatoes.


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External links

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