Okay, maybe that sounds a bit excessive. We celebrate WITH food all the time - Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving... not to mention birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, and so on. But especially in our part of the world, where we seem to feel that everything needs to be fast and we should always be doing more than one thing at a time, perhaps taking the time out to celebrate our food that comes from right here in our own backyard would be a good idea. Maybe it might be a way to remind us of how fortunate we are? Or maybe it might just teach us something - are you aware of all the things that are grown or produced here?
This Saturday, August 4th is Food Day in Canada. Never heard of it? That's okay, it's never too late to join the party! It's a celebration of Canadian ingredients across the country. There are restaurants that offer special dishes, or even menus, and there are lots of people who offer their comments on the website (www.fooddaycanada.ca) about their own backyard parties. Since we live in one of the most abundant food basket regions in the country, I thought it only fair I put the word out. And besides, it's always great to enjoy good food with friends. At the peak of our growing season, why would you not sample the local fare?
Here's a few ideas for you to make the most of this event:
- visit a local farmer's market - check here to see many of the ones around the province. Here in the Okanagan every community has something every week, and they are all worth visiting as each one is unique.
- pick fresh fruit - if you don't have a tree, ask a neighbour or stop at a "u-pick" place. There is no food fresher than stuff you pick right then and there. It's as much fun as drinking from the garden hose!
- stop at a fruit stand or a farm stall - talk to the people and ask them how to prepare or eat anything that is new to you.
- visit a local food store (by this I don't mean Walmart or Superstore). Ask the butcher or cheesemonger or baker , etc. what they recommend for local fare
- if you shop at a larger store, look for local seasonal fare - you will be supporting local farmers and the food will likely be fresher than something shipped from further away
- Share! Invite friends, family, neighbours to share in a meal - share recipes and ideas. It's impossible not to learn and discover new things when you do this.
If you are reading this after Saturday and feel like you missed out, never fear. Here are a few suggestions for celebrating food on other days:
- try out food events - Feast of Fields is a great event that focuses on local producers.. Here in the Okanagan it is on Sunday, August 12. Details on their website.
- join Slow Food - a local chapter is forming. Check out the international organization that started in honour of keeping local traditions and food specialties and now operates in 150 countries
- celebrate Julia Child's birthday coming up August 15th (she would have been 100 years old this year) . She was quoted as saying that food should be a recreation, not a fuel stop. That's my kind of hero! Watch for more on Julia in future columns.
Whatever you do, take the time to enjoy your food and the company at your table, every chance you get. I guarantee you won't regret it.