In the discussion of shibolet, we mentioned that the Radak described how the Eprhaimites pronounced the word improperly. Here's part of his explanation as to why:
אולי היה אויר ארצם גורם להם זה כמו אנשי צרפת שאינן מבינים לקרא השי"ן וקוראין אותה כמו תי"ו רפה
Perhaps it was due to the climate of their land, just as the people [Jews?] of France, who can't properly say shin, and instead read it as a soft tav ("th")
Avshalom Kor, on his radio program, claims that this French speech issue could explain the Hebrew word pashtida פשטידה - "pie, casserole". He says that pashtida derives from pasta, the "-da" suffix is like the suffix of "limonada" (lemonade), what's left is pashti = pasta. The Jews used "shin" to spell "s" - like Shaloniki שלוניקי for Saloniki. He understands the Radak as saying that the soft tav was "s" - like Shabbos. So he says that in general the French mixed up "sh" and "s", and that explains Rashi (in France) writing "pasta" as "pashti(da)".
I'm certainly a big fan of Avshalom Kor (I wake up to his program almost every morning), so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But there are a number of things I don't really understand about his theory:
- Why does he assume that "da" is a separate suffix? According to this site, "-ade", or the Latin "ata" means "product of an action" (lemonade from lemons). If pashtida means pasta, then what action is being described?
- Why does he assume that שלוניקי was pronounced Shaloniki instead of Saloniki (with a "sin")? That's how it's written in the Hebrew Wikipedia page.
- Is he saying that the switch from pasta to pashti happened because the Jews wrote "s" with a shin deliberately, or because the French Jews mixed up "s" and "sh"?
- The Radak says that in France they pronounced "sh" as "th" (or "s"). How does that explain a mispronunciation of "s" as "sh"?
As far as the etymology goes, there are certainly other opinions. Klein gives the following:
Probably from Middle Dutch pastede (=pie), from Late Latin pasta (whence also Italian, Spanish, etc. pasta), from Greek paste (=barleymash), which is related to pastos, paston (=sprinkled with salt), verbal adjective of passein (= to sprinkle), which is of uncertain etymology.
Other theories are that pashtida derives from the German (pastete) and Italian (pestette), from the Italian pasticcio (the source of pastitsio) or pastetta (according to Stahl) / pasteta (according to Even Shoshan) or even from the Polish word pashtet (or pasztet).
But I think to find the most reasonable etymology, we need to find the earliest source. Let's look at the Rashi that Avshalom Kor mentioned. The source is Pesachim 74b, which is discussing birds (pigeons, ducks) covered in dough (made of semida - solet ) and then roasted. Rashi (s.v. טפליה) says this is called pashtida פשטיד"א. Tosafot (s.v. טפלו ליה בר אווזא) disagrees with Rashi, saying the verb טפל means טיחה - "spreading", and therefore the gemara is describing something much lighter - they use a foreign word which Steinsaltz identifies as "crepes" (Stahl says perhaps related to the Yiddish kreplach). However, they are familiar with pashtida - they just claim pashtida is too thick to be the item described, and is baked in an oven, unlike the birds here, which were roasted on a skewer ("shipud"). So both Rashi and Tosafot see the pashtida to be fairly similar to its use today - a type of meat pastry, and in that light Steinsaltz says the word derives from the old French pastede, with the same meaning.1
However, Rashi on Shmuel I 25:18 seems to give a different explanation to the word. The verse is describing the food that Avigail prepared for David, and mentions five "prepared" sheep - וְחָמֵשׁ צֹאן עֲשׂוּיוֹת. How were they prepared? Rashi writes:
תרגם יונתן תכברא ממולאות בשר דק ובצים פשטי"ץ בלע"ז
Targum Yonatan translates this as tachbera ["basket" - Jastrow]. They were filled with ground meat and eggs - pashtitz in Laaz [foreign language].
He then goes on to quote the gemara in Pesachim - one page earlier, 74a, where it describes the Pesach sacrifice being stuffed with meat (and according to some manuscripts use the word תכברא.) While the word pashtitz2 is likely synonymous (or at least cognate) to pashtida, clearly this is not the pashtida described on the following page. Perhaps this why someone (who?) added the parenthetical comment to Rashi:
ע"ש היטב ברש"י ד"ה רבי ישמעאל קורהו וכו' ומצוה ליישב
Look closely at Rashi s.v. רבי ישמעאל קורהו, there is an obligation to resolve it
Both this Rashi and the Rashi on Shmuel say that this explanation is by Rabbi Kalonymus ben Shabbethai, a rabbi who moved from Rome to Worms, where Rashi lived. (The Radak, who calls the stuffed meat פשטיצ"ו pastitsio, also mentions Rabbi Kalonymus as the source.)
It's possible that Rabbi Kalonymus is very significant to understanding the real story here. For he was responsible for introducing the Aruch dictionary (or parts of it) of Rabbi Nathan ben Yechiel of Rome to Rashi. And the Aruch, explaining the word mul'yeta מולייתא in Pesachim 74a offers the following definition:
כל דבר שממלא מבשר וצולהו היינו מולייתא כגון פשטידא
Anything filled with meat and roasted is mul'yeta, such as pashtida
Now while mul'yeta is referring to a lamb stuffed with meat, the Aruch's definition is wide enough to include the dough stuffed with meat found on the following page. However, the etymology of pashtida / pashtitz shouldn't have anything to do with pasta, dough, etc., but should somehow be associated with stuffed meat. Does anything fit that definition? I have a possible suggestion - the German pastete - ground meat, meaning (and cognate to) pate (which is still related to "pasta", but only via an earlier sense of "paste"). I admit that this is not fully researched, but it does seem important to disconnect pashtida from "pasta", at least regarding the Aruch's definition, and possibly Rashi's as well. Did Rabbi Kalonymus bring this meaning from Rome to Worms? If so, it would be nice to find an Italian word with the same meaning. In any case, clearly by the time of Tosafot, pashtida had found its place as "pie, casserole", since they use the word without needing to explain its meaning.
So today we find in the Israeli kitchen both pashtida and pasta פסטה, whether or not they are directly related. Another related food term is the Ladino pastel פסטל, which originally meant a meat pie ("Pastel de Carne"), but today usually refers to fried dumplings stuffed with potatoes, meat, etc.
One more word that has a similar origin is "pastiche", meaning "a medley of various ingredients; a hotchpotch, farrago, jumble." The word pastiche is the French version of the Greco-Roman dish pastitsio or pasticcio, which designated a kind of pie made of many different ingredients. All of the unanswered questions here make me feel like this post is a bit of a jumble. If you have any answers - please let me know!
1. In Modern Hebrew, pashtida does not only refer to meat pies, but perhaps even more likely to dairy ones. However, in Rabbinic literature, as Raffi Sirkis points out in his appendix to Pashtidot Olamiot, the term for a dairy pie was fladen or fladon פלאדן / פלאדון, cognate to the English "flan".
Also interesting is that pashtida is a legitimate Hebrew word today (I would have guessed that the Hebrew version would be tefelah טפילה). Sirkis points out that Ben-Yehuda did not include it in his dictionary, but the Vaad HaLashon included pashtida פשטידא in their 1912 dictionary of cooking terms as the Hebrew translation of the Yiddish "kugel". By 1938, they were spelling it with a heh at the end: פשטידה, and became the official translation for the English "pie" and "pastry".
2. This spelling can also be found in Tosafot Beitza 16b, s.v. קמ"ל קמחא עיקר, and Sefer Kolbo 145 s.v. דין.
Update: Shortly after publishing this post, I saw the Mikraot Gedolot HaKeter edition of Shmuel. I was very surprised to see that they had a rather different version of Rashi and Radak on our verse, with Rashi using the foreign word “פרשידש” and Radak providing “פרשירש”. These were both sufficiently different from any form of the word pashtida, that I thought it was important to research the point further.
From correspondence with Prof. Jordan Penkower and Daniel Fano, I discovered something very interesting. As Penkower mentions in his article, “גלגולי נוסח תרגום יונתן ופירוש רד"ק ליחזקאל כג, כ; לד, יח”, pgs 254-5 (in שנתון לחקר המקרא והמזרח הקדום יג), the Haketer version of Rashi (he has Radak using the same word) seems to be the accurate one. Other older manuscripts have similar spellings. What is the origin of this word? According to Fano, it is from the Old French farcid (farcides in plural). It means “to stuff” and is related to the English word “farce”.
According to Penkower, the Venice edition of Mikraot Gedolot (which I had used for my post) had no justification to use a variation of the word pashtida. He doesn’t say why they did – but my guess is that Rashi having used pashtida in Pesachim, and with pashtida and farcides both referring to stuffed food, they simply became confused.
So all of this, together with the important comment on my post by reader Mike Gerver that in the Arukh “mul'yeta is defined as any kind of food stuffed with meat, and gives pashtida as an example”, leads me to believe that perhaps Avshalom Kor’s position has more merit than I assumed. Pashtida may really refer to specifically a kind of pie or pastry, and not just anything stuffed with meat.