The adventures on the Rabbit Hollow Express continue. (If you missed last week’s launch, I hope you will scroll down to see more and join me on Instagram for pictures. )
We have reached Quebec, where Hubbie’s roots are. We are immersed in French - the language, the culture and, of course, the food.
I am pleased to find my French still works even though I only have one year of Quebecois exposure (the accents are much different here than what I heard in school and in France.)
An even better revelation is with food. You can often point at things in a restaurant or grocery store, or describe them to people. That’s how I discovered that haskap berries, a new food for us in B.C.— are called “camerises” in Quebec.
We all knew they were like long blueberries that had a bit of raspberry tang to them. Our adventure here however, was picking wild blueberries not far off the highway. I will be making a galette with them this weekend.
The quintessential foods my Hubbie wanted to enjoy with me on this trip were some classics:
• Poutine. This is something known elsewhere but when the cheese curds are freshly made and the gravy is tasty and well distributed but not drowning the freshly made fries, that’s when you know it’s a well-made poutine. (“Chez Gerard” on Boulevard Dagenais in Laval I’d the one Hubbie knows, but we had a good one at a roadside “case-croute” or diner in Grand Remous.
• Bagels. Montreal style bagels are boiled, and this gives a result that is not the same as regular bread. Just because it has a hole does not make it a bagel. And you get extra points if you can find ones cooked in a wood fired oven. St-Viatur does a fine job.
• Cretons or rillettes. These products are similar to pâté but not the same. Most commonly made with pork, these dishes are like a confit, where meat is seasoned and cooked in its own fat slowly to preserve it. It is a traditional spread on toast for breakfast. The sugar shacks often include this dish in their menus, and public markets & neighbourhood delis often make it too.
• Maple syrup. I know you’ve probably had maple syrup, but have you had a teaspoonful for your health? Do you put it in your tea? These are things I’ve heard from more than a few Quebecois. Pied de Cochon, Chef Martin Picard’s enterprise, have begun to sell the stuff in cans with pull tabs.
Of course with all of these foods you should really add a roomful of people, excited to share stories and speaking loudly. Throw in a lot of laughter and a few craft beers and you have the sort of gatherings I have seen in the last few days.
This recipe works in most cultures, each with its own food and drink. I love being able to add to my recipe book of adventures by experiencing these visits with locals.
I am hearing all kinds of stories of Hubbie’s adolescent antics; sharing his world and creating new memories amidst the old ones is truly magical.
If you have the chance to tag along with someone to their world, I highly recommend it. I consider it a great privilege to have the chance to learn how others fuel their soul. It most often spills over and fills mine too.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.