Monday, August 27, 2007
This weekend we had a large family BBQ, with family on both sides. Though it was a very hot and humid day, we still had lots of fun, and ate much great food. The star of the day was the Rappie Pie, an old tradition in my in-laws family.
Rappie Pie is a traditional Acadian dish. Though its origins are murky, it may have made its appearance in Nova Scotia around 1755 when the Acadians were deported. There are a few legends that it may actually extend back to the 1500s. It has remained popular, especially by the Acadians of Southwest Nova Scotia.
Rappie pie is a made from grated potatoes or in French, "patates râpées." The French word râper means "to grate." Thus, that became transformed into "rappie" pie. Once the potatoes are grated, most of the water is removed. This used to be done by squeezing the potatoes in a cheese cloth, a laborious process. Then, broth is added along with meat, onions and pork fat to make a casserole type dish. There are a number of variations on this basic recipe, some people using different types of meats or even seafood like clams.
People generally put butter or molasses on their Rappie Pie. There is an old adage that the English use butter and the French molasses. Some people may put other items atop their Rappie Pie, even ketchup, but that is much less common.
It used to take all day to make Rappie Pie, especially trying to squeeze the water out of the potatoes. Nowadays, you can buy frozen packets of potatoes where the water has already been removed. This makes it much quicker to make.
My in-laws make Rappie Pie a few times each year, usually making it into a large family gathering, helping to promote closeness in the extended family. Nearly everyone loves Rappie Pie and the next generation is learning how to make it. It is definitely not a tradition that will die out.
I love Rappie Pie, slathered in butter. Sometimes people don't like its color, the grayness of the interior, but once they taste it, they change their mind. And besides its deliciousness, the sense of family behind the gatherings is also great. Such a nice tradition. We will have another big gathering in the winter and I am looking forward to it.