A Celebration of Canada
Happy 150th anniversary Canada! We’ve got a wonderful country; we have to do everything we can to celebrate. I didn’t want to let the year go by without writing about Feast – a cookbook described by the authors as a celebration of a country they think is “unbelievably cool”.
Co-authors and friends Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller are cooks, authors and photographers who took a 5-month road trip across the country to experience and write about Canada’s food and culture. They made it to all 10 provinces and 3 territories, racking up almost 37,000 kilometres in the process. You can read more about it at edibleroadtrip.com.
The authors probably couldn’t resist including Reindeer Meatloaf, Pemmican and Bannock, Sugar Pie and Butter Tarts but it’s much more than that. There’s Arctic Char Sushi & Tempura from Rankin Inlet, Warm Beluga Lentil, Crabapple and Chorizo Salad from Saskatchewan and Birch Syrup & Black Pepper Cookies from the Yukon. The recipes highlight regional ingredients but these are available other places too, and there is a section about ingredient substitutions.
I tried to be equitable in the recipes that I tested. Barley Pancakes from Alberta were filling, with a nice mild flavour. Beer Waffles from British Columbia were light and crispy (and a great excuse to open a can of beer). You could easily substitute cider if beer isn’t your thing. Remember to increase the salt in both recipes and amp up the flavour with lemon zest and/or berries.
I’ve seen mushroom toast in almost every new cookbook I read but it’s often loaded with cheese or cream. Wild Mushroom Toasts with Goat Cheese and Black Garlic Vinaigrette from PEI caught my eye and I liked them a lot as a light dinner. Good even though we had to sub for the black garlic. I also tried Lentil, Mushroom & Wild Rice Veggie Burgers from Saskatchewan. Like most veggie burgers, they have a different texture than meat or soy, but they tasted really good.
Fricot au Poulet Acadien (aka chicken and dumplings) from New Brunswick was delicious, although I confess I used my own chicken soup recipe and doubled the amount of dumplings. We like dumplings, what can I say? The most interesting recipe was Brussels Sprouts with Honey & Hazelnuts, from Quebec. Grapefruit zest added an undefinable citrus note that balanced nicely with the sweet and salt in the dish.
Still on my list – Grilled Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Salad with Tahini Dressing (Ontario), Grilled Sardines with White Bean Stew (Newfoundland), Financier A L’Erable (maple and buckwheat financiers) from Montreal and Yukon Sourdough Cinnamon Buns.
Sadly, I’m not going on my own cross-country road trip anytime soon. But after reading Feast, I feel like I went along for the ride. Worth it for that reason alone.
Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject. And she reads cookbooks in her spare time.