Life is short. Should we use its precious fleeting moments making terrines?
Let’s be honest: how often do we eat terrines? For most of us, these fancy oblongs of pureed food are culinary relics: archaic entities taught at haute cuisine establishments and consumed by the discerning few.
The truth is that we probably consume more terrine-like products than we are prepared to admit. Supermarket shelves are full of packaged pâtés, mousses, sliced terrines and other similar moulded meat and vegetable products. Unselfconsciously, we add them to our shopping lists, knowing of their convenience when catering for intimate soirées, larger gatherings, or perhaps those odd moments when you just need a little something…
For the aspiring home cook, making terrines provides an engaging challenge as well as useful new cooking techniques, especially when learned alongside related processes such as pâtés, mousses, and quenelles.
Terrines can also release the inner artist, offering the cook endless creative possibilities, not just through choice of ingredients (which can be meat, fish, or vegetable), but also through artistic expression using colours, patterns, layers or wrappings. For the advanced practitioner, more technical constructions are possible, with ingredients fastidiously placed along the length of the terrine – the final design revealed when sliced in cross-section, rather like an English stick of seaside rock.
Endless variations on a terrine theme are possible. However, finding a good range of recipes may prove difficult; most will reside either in French cookbooks, cookbooks by French chefs, or in the canon of classic cookery texts. However, initiated in the principles of the terrine, it is straightforward to elaborate personal interpretations.
It seems that making terrines may not be such a bad idea: once made, they become a very quick ready-made meal – just slice and serve; they are good to eat (either hot or cold); and finally, dare it be mentioned, there is just a soupçon of smugness to be enjoyed, knowing that against all the odds, despite life’s fleeting moments, a terrine was made.