I have a problem understanding this verbal confrontation:

In the Black Earth Rising series, a lawyer is hired by dangerous men, represented by a priest. But it seems that they refuse to pay for the service, while the lawyer demands the payment or he will turn against his former client. At the end of this conversation we can hear this:

Lawyer: Pay the piper, Padre. Or I'll pipe the rats right back.
Priest: Actually, I'm a pastor.
Lawyer: Yeah? Then go boil some milk.

The first sentence is an obvious reference to the fairy tale about Pied Piper of Hamelin, in which a piper uses magical flute to lure the rats out of town, but the citizens refuse to pay him, so he uses his magic on their children taking them away too. So the quite obvious meaning is "pay for the provided service or face the dire consequences".

The quick google search for "pastor" + "boiling milk" only shows the Bible fragment about "not boiling a young goat in its mother's milk", but I'm not sure how this is relevant to the plot.

2 Answers 2


Pasteurization is a process most commonly done to milk, where something is mildly heated to extend its shelflife by destroying some bacteria. The process was invented by Louis Pasteur.

This sounds like pastor. The character makes a joke, by intentionally mistaking a pastor as someone who pasteurizes milk.

  • 44
    Hmph. I'm science-minded, and I still thought this joke was obscure. Feb 2, 2021 at 16:18
  • 13
    Pasteurization is named after Louis Pasteur, so the pun should be pastor and Pasteur, not pastor and Pasteurizer.. Feb 2, 2021 at 17:22
  • 21
    "Obscure" is charitable. It's not clear that there's any category of clergyman who would identify with "pastor" but object to the idiomatic and generic "padre"; and having "a pastor" call "Pasteurize" to mind is a real stretch. It's the kind of attempted humour that leaves even people who get it wondering if that's what the author really meant, because it just doesn't work that well.
    – CCTO
    Feb 2, 2021 at 19:21
  • 27
    @CCTO, "Padre" or "Father" is a term of address for a Catholic or Angelican clergyman. A Protestant pastor would likely object to being addressed as such, hence his attempt to correct the lawyer. But the lawyer is just being dismissive with his joke.
    – Seth R
    Feb 2, 2021 at 21:26
  • 14
    @CCTO As someone raised protestant, "Padre" and "Father" are not at all generic to me. They read as specifically Catholic in my mind. I never once heard a pastor at my church referred to as Padre or Father, so it seems plausible to me that they would object (mildly) to that form of address.
    – Harabeck
    Feb 2, 2021 at 21:57

Haven't watched the series, but since the lawyer says "Padre" when addressing the priest, I'm assuming at least one of them speaks Spanish.

In Spanish (maybe in other languages as well), "pastor" means shepherd, and shepherds take care of milk-producing animals, so "go boil some milk" could be understood as "mind your own business".

  • 7
    Padre seems to just be a US slang/colloquial term for 'minister of undefined sect'. They used to use it way back in the John Wayne movies - both cowboy & WWII.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 2, 2021 at 18:17
  • 2
    I have to agree with @Tetsujin here - the priest is from Africa (most likely either Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo) and the lawyer was British, so I doubt that either of them speaks Spanish. Padre is quite obvious slang for "priest", that is understandable even for English-speaker.
    – Yasskier
    Feb 2, 2021 at 18:49
  • Well now I know what to call someone whose either a shepard or a goatherd.
    – Joshua
    Feb 2, 2021 at 19:12
  • 1
    @RonJohn: But what's the latin for goatherd?
    – Joshua
    Feb 2, 2021 at 20:15
  • 11
    Regardless of the linguistic stuff, boiling milk is not something that shepherds are known for doing.
    – Sneftel
    Feb 3, 2021 at 9:07

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