Word of the Day Pashtida: Easy as Pie

Eyeing that quiche in the window? Ask the sales clerk for the 'pashtida.'

Elon Gilad
Elon Gilad
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Elon Gilad
Elon Gilad

Watch any Israeli cooking show or flip through the recipe section of a magazine or newspaper, and you’re likely to come across something called a pashtida (pash-ti-DA). That’s the Hebrew word for a savory pie, quiche or casserole (not to be confused with pai - pronounced pie - which is what Israelis call sweet pies).

Pashtida first appears in 1250 in Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, one of the earliest codifications of halakha (Jewish law). In it, French Talmudic scholar Moses ben Jacob of Coucy writes that Jews are not permitted to eat a pashtida made by non-Jews. The word continues to appear in rabbinic texts from the 13th century on, including the important Jewish legal codes the Arba’ah Turim and Shulchan Aruch.

But the word is not Hebrew in origin: It comes from the Italian word pasticcio, a pie made of meat and pasta, or directly from the post-classical Latin word, from which the Italian word is derived, pasticium, or pie. This late Latin word itself is derived from the earlier Latin word pasta, meaning dough, pastry or pie, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek word pasta meaning barley porridge, from the Greek word pastos, or sprinkled with salt.

Some Israelis still use the Yiddish word kugel for some of their savory dishes, even though its generally associated with the sweet egg-noodle casserole we all know so well. In Yiddish, kugel literally means sphere or ball, reflecting the fact that early kugels were baked in round dishes.

Later, in the 16th century, the Italian word pasticcio came to mean a mix-and-match artwork, especially in opera. This entered the French as pastiche in the 17th century and in the 20th century entered Hebrew as pastish (pas-TISH), with the same meaning - a work of art integrating several genres.

Shoshana Kordova is on leave. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

A bread and eggplant pashtida.Credit: Doram Gaunt

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