Tag Archives: beans

The G20 Series: Canada!

14 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

How many times have you heard someone say that Canadians define themselves by what they’re not, that to be a Canadian is to be defiantly not American?

I’m not here to argue that this sentiment is wrong, but I do believe that we arrive at the conclusion as a (perhaps insecure) response to our perception that the world sees us as the same as the United States, only nicer, and more polite. We saw this at its worst during the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in Vancouver this year. (Ugh, how is it that if you spout clichés in the form of slam poetry, we’re supposed to think it’s actually profound?)

Sure, we can conjure images when we think of other countries – Italy? Pasta! China? Dim sum! India? Curry! Middle East? Hummus!

Canada? Maple syrup and back bacon!

I’m here to argue that Canada actually is something, that it has a distinct cuisine, and it only has a little to do with our friends to the south. Herewith, I propose a number of statements to support my thesis.

1. Canada is a country of regional cuisines. From Newfoundland’s toutons, to Quebec’s tourtière, to Saskatchewan’s Saskatoon berry pie, what we eat is highly localized.

2. Canada is a country of international cuisines. Thanks to our embracing of immigration, our food is influenced by dishes that come from almost every country of the world.

3. Canada has a very deep culinary history. And if you haven’t looked, there are books that outline this history. It comes from long before the Europeans arrived on this continent. Aboriginal food, for example the “three sisters” – beans, corn and squash (check out the soup recipe on this page, by the way) – are staples that appear on almost every Canadian table during the late harvest.

4. Our national cuisine is a hybrid of regional, international and historical influences. It’s distinct, but it’s not in your face. Poutine may come from Quebec, but somehow, we think of it as belonging to all of us. (Sorry Quebec, but I promise it’s always best with chicken gravy from a truck somewhere at the side of the road on the Gaspé.)

5. Americans try, but they can’t steal our stuff. For example, in Vermont they claim to be so great at making maple syrup. Well, Canada makes 80 per cent of the world supply. And we also have way more hockey gold medals.

6. And, um, maple syrup is awesome. Seriously. I could drink the stuff out of a glass.

The G20 Series: Brazil

12 Jun

Let’s face it, trying to come up with a summary of the cuisines of entire countries in a few short paragraphs is a bit of a Sysiphean task. Nations are complicated places, with regional cuisines that are sometimes foreign even to other parts of the country.

Which brings me to Brazil. The largest country in South America – and future host of both the World Cup and the Olympics – Brazil is diverse both in its geography and its people, and therefore its cuisines. Like Argentina, Brazil produces and eats a lot of beef. Unfortunately, cattle are responsible for the majority of deforestation in the country. Still, there’s more to Brazil than beef.

(And, for that matter, coffee.)

Considered the national dish of the country, feijoada is a stew of black beans and meats. You can make it the old fashioned way by including pork ears, tails and/or feet, but if your tastes are less adventurous, you can stick to sausages, pork tenderloin and bacon. I confess I have not tried this, but if anyone wants a volunteer for tasting their feijoada, you can reach me through this blog!

My own experience with Brazilian food is limited, a fact that I promise to address soon by visiting one of our city’s many Brazilian restaurants. A friend of mine who grew up in Brazil, and who has taught cooking classes for university students with me, once showed me how a bean salad can be made more delicious by adding hearts of palm. She also said she very often cooked with a pressure cooker when she was in Brazil, but when she moved to Canada, she had trouble even finding one to buy.

While cheering Brazil all the way to the World Cup final (my prediction, at least according to my office pool), try some moequeca capixaba (a fish stew); some fried plantain soup; farofa (a toasted manioc meal); or even pan de queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread. And save some for me.

Friday 5 – Chili

3 Oct

By Chris Garbutt

As we’ve mentioned in the past, October is national chili month in the U.S. Let’s have a look at some chili options:

1. Because we just can’t get enough of Newfoundland, from Rock Recipes, a Grilled Corn, Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Chili.

2. I wondered if this American classic had a Canadian version. So I Googled “Canadian Chili” and got this.

3. A nice variation: White Bean and Chicken Chili.

4. It’s not chili, but it’s loaded with chillis – Tofu with Beans and Bok Choy.

5. Can chili kill you? Apparently so.