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Happy-Gourmand

As Canadian as...

Sitting on the edge of summer with our national day of pride upon us, I am reminded of that phrase our neighbours to the south use: “As American as hot dogs and apple pie”. It doesn’t sound like much of a meal, and I am not sure where they cornered the market on apples being American, but let’s not get into that here. My point is, what food is quintessentially Canadian?

I have brought up previously the idea that across a country as vast as ours, it is quite the job to come up with a single ingredient or dish that would signal national pride for all. When I was in France as a teaching assistant and my students asked me to give examples of Canadian foods, I came up with butter tarts, maple syrup and peanut butter as things I considered more or less unique to Canada. We tried them all in class, with two out of  three being winners. (French children cannot see why you would eat something like peanut butter on a perfectly respectable baguette, especially with something as horrid as cold milk.) I know Martin and I have discussed many times the differences between growing up on opposite sides of the country. Most of our favourite special things are different - for example, me enjoying more seafood and him with more pork!

I did do some research and discovered that rhubarb is something that is grown across Canada. That seems like a good representative ingredient, wouldn’t you say? It’s hearty, colourful, and very tasty when treated with just a bit of care. We are a nation that likes to take care, I think. I certainly wouldn’t turn down a bit of rhubarb compote, or a piece of pie, or even a bit of chutney, if it was offered. It’s far more original than apple pie (can you see me smirking between the lines?).

Of course, the Americans with their melting pot culture are more focused on making sure everyone has the same concept. Our cultural mosaic is more encouraging of the notion that everyone has their own twist on an idea. Both systems have their advantages, and disadvantages. I do think the Americans with their focus (okay, and a bigger budget) do put on a great show. Their fireworks are amazing. We would most often rather put on a series of little vignettes, each with its own expression. We are more discreet. Even as a kid I understood this. I remember one of the Muppets, those lovely American creatures from Sesame Street, saying “Patriotism swells in the heart of the American bear!” If he was a Canadian bear he wouldn’t have been that forthcoming.

I was in the United States over the long weekend a few years ago, with our Girl Guide unit. We exchanged enthusiasm as the girls met with Girl Scouts from Spokane and celebrated their 4th of July. At twelve or thirteen years old, these girls didn't care too much about patriotism and national identity specifically, but I know they found differences between them and their American counterparts. That was the point, after all – we wanted them to appreciate both the similarities and the differences. When I was their age and attending basketball camp outside Spokane, things like Almond Joy and Dr. Pepper were not available here. I thought that was cool even if the US girls thought I lived in an igloo. Nowadays many more things have crossed over, but our girls still shared some funny misconceptions.

Here’s to enjoying your slice of pie with your neighbour, whether it be apple or rhubarb or anything else. Thankfully we live in a country, on a continent, where you can do that and not have to worry about repercussions.

Hip hip hooray!



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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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