I work in a Thai restaurant and a lot of what we serve is from well outside of the 100 mile diet's boundaries. There is no such thing as a local papaya, mango or lemon? How can the 100 mile diet apply to those of ethnic origin when so much of who they are depends on what they eat? If you take away the food, do you take away the identity?
I noticed in my time at the Thai restaurant, that the family who owned it only ate Thai food. They claimed that they did not like Canadian food. It got me thinking, what exactly is Canadian food? When I asked what they considered Canadian food, they said hamburgers. I laughed. I could see why they would think that since the masses of fast food chains mostly serve hamburgers. That night at home, I really sat and thought about it. I found myself pondering out loud, "I wonder if they've ever had pancakes". "Probably not," Alex answered from the living room.
Lo and behold, I get to work on Monday morning, and the owner is standing in the kitchen waving a box of Aunt Jemima pancake batter at me and saying "I'm Canadian". I couldn't help but laugh. I told him to wait until the following day when I could bring some real maple syrup and we could have a pancake feast. I drew a picture of a maple tree and tried to explain that the syrup came from inside the tree. They just looked at me in wonder. Crazy talk! On the following morning, we all had our first Canadian breakfast together.
Later that week I was talking to a couple of our regulars, a cute retired couple. I was telling them about our Canadian culinary adventures in the kitchen. Peter Morris and his wife, Jean, posed the exact same question that I had: What exactly is Canadian food?
I went home, cookbook in hand, and vowed that I would make something new and 'Canadian' that very night. I chose Cream of Pumpkin Soup from the Upper Canada Heritage section. I just happened to have several pumpkins lying around that needed to be consumed. The recipe for the soup is below:
Cream of Pumpkin Soup
900 g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp flour
3 cups hot milk
1/2 cup hot chicken stock
salt and pepper
Place pumpkin into large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and puree. Set aside. Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions; cook 2 minutes. Add flour; mix and cook 1 minute. Add milk; stir and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Season well and incorporate pumpkin puree and chicken stock; stir and cook 20 minutes over low heat.
Serve with croutons.
The soup was delicious, rich and creamy! Finally, something else I can do with all these pumpkins. Thank you to Jean Morris for your thoughtful gift. I have looked at that cookbook everyday. I would love to hear from others... what do you consider a truly Canadian meal? What recipe has been passed on from generation to generation in your family? If a Canadian restaurant was to open in another country, what would it serve? Please post your comments and/or recipes here.