or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Rich and Strange

And now, a mystery.

On January 1st, as we always do, we had breakfast at Cora's, a Canadian restaurant chain. As I generally do, I had cretons, which is a sort of pork paté made with actual pork instead of liver and usually spread on buttered toast with mustard: you can read more about it on, unsurprisingly, Wikipedia. The next day, my appetite for cretons not yet whetted, I bought a jar in the supermarket and had some with dinner. This morning I had some more for breakfast. Delicious.

The mystery is just where "cretons" comes from. The French version of Wiktionary, Wiktionnaire, has no idea, and in fact rather plaintively begs anyone who does know to tell them:

Si vous connaissez l’étymologie manquante de ce mot, merci de l’ajouter conformément aux instructions décrites ici,

which is to say "If you know the missing etymology of the word, we would thank you for adding it according to the instructions described here."

So that's them out of the loop.

The OED is no more help, noting only that "cretone/critone/cretoyne" is obsolete and comes from Old French "cretonné", which it then does not bother to explain, define, or elucidate.

Now, "cretons" may make you think of a fabric called "cretonne". This obviously has nothing in particularly to do with pork spread: it's named after a French town, Creton, in which linen was manufactured.

But do cretons come from Creton? I don't know, and if anyone else does, they're apparently not saying.

If you would like to try cretons and do not live in the easternmost portion of Canada (Québec on eastward), you could certainly make them yourself: they're basically just rillettes, which is to say pulled pork without the barbecue sauce, pounded into a paste and refrigerated so it firms up, then topped with a little melted fat to keep it fresh. It's easy to make and very nice.


Anonymous Jim (Yes, THAT one) said...

Ok, I read this while you were on Facebook playing... that game... and thought to myself "Where did cretons originate?" So, I started looking.

I found this page


This fellow was just as interested as you. He found it was originally gratton: Le mot viendrait soit de creton (désignant un morceau de lard frit, du néerlandais « kerte » : entaille) ou du verbe gratter (qui nous renvoie au francique kratton)

The word (gratton) became creton (meaning a bit of fried animal fat from the Dutch "kerte": notched) or from the verb "scratch" gratter which came from the Frisian(?) kratten.

So grattons (something scratched together) becomes cretons (yummy pork bits.)

I got lost a couple of times because pain de cretons (Creton Bread) kept getting in the way. That's when bread is tossed in the bottom of the fry pan to soak up extra fat and then given to the dogs as a treat.

Sunday, January 03, 2010 8:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Monday, January 04, 2010 9:16:00 AM  

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