Editor’s Note: This is another in a series presented by the JG-TC staff called Food for Thought. Each month, area residents will share information and recipes from a different international cuisine. The series will be presented with the help of Kathy Rhodes and her students in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Eastern Illinois University.
While America may have just finished up the leftovers of Thanksgiving dinner, those in Canada celebrated their “harvest holiday” on the second Monday in October.
“By the end of November, we would be locked in snow, and the harvest would be long forgotten in Canada,” said Peter Andrews, Eastern Illinois University math and computer science chairman, and a native of Toronto.
Canadian cuisine is a mixture of many cultures, and its culture is also influenced by American culture, said Andrews.
Favorite foods in Canada are influenced by family heritage and holiday celebrations, too, according to www.foodbycountry.com.
Andrews said some other holidays that food may be a part of in Canada include: Canada Day, July 1; August Banking Day and Jean Baptiste, the patron saint of Quebec celebration.
Canada’s three main cities each bring about a different flavor.
“Toronto is a very diverse city with influences of German, Italian, Greek, Indian and Pakistanian. Montreal has a strong French influence and a large Haitian population. Vancouver ethnicity includes Korean, Asian and Vietnamese,” Andrews said.
The one thing Canada is missing that is different from American cuisine is the Mexican or Hispanic influence, he said.
“But, the unifying theme in Eastern Canada is maple. Quebec is the No. 1 maple syrup producer in the world,” said Andrews.
While Andrews enjoys cooking today, he said it was after meeting his wife, Holly, in Maryland, where he attended graduate school, that cooking became a part of his life.
Married for 38 years, they have two grown children, Chris and Jessica.
“We started cooking together to enjoy food ourselves and to entertain. Then we had children and we cooked for them,” he said.
He said food in Canada is tied to the land in the area it is located. The areas along the coasts offer plenty of seafood, especially salmon; there is plenty of beef and other meat to select from, and with to hold summer barbecues; and because of the colder temperatures in Canada, the choices of root vegetables such as fresh turnips, potatoes, and carrots are plenty.
Winter-time meals often include some rich soups and vegetable stews. Using maple syrup in recipes is quite common. Sweet desserts are adored by many Canadians.
“Where I grew up (Toronto), winter hits in early December. Sometimes you wouldn’t see the ground again until mid-March,” he said.
But, Canada is not without wheat and dairy.
“It is an agriculture country. The Canadian prairies are one of the “bread baskets” of the world. Wheat grows very well there. But, things like tender fruits — peaches and tangerines — are hard to come by,” he said.
Each year, in a very limited area, you’ll find a farmer’s market.
In Quebec, favorite dishes come from the French heritage.
“Throughout Canada, maple syrup and maple products are popular, reflecting the significance of the maple tree, who lead adorns the flag of Canada,” according to www.foodbycountry.com.
A favorite main French-Canadian dish would be tourtiere, which could be basically a pork and potato pie, Andrews said.
This might be served to a family at a special dinner occasion, too.
Canadians also appreciate butter tarts, which is similar to a pecan pie, but typically made with maple syrup or maple sugar, according to Canadian Cuisine Trip Advisor website.
“Traditions in Canada depend on where you live, but there are some regional and some old traditions. All of the cuisine has been modernized and some are now made with less fat,” Andrews said.
Some things to eat in Canada are purely Canadian.
“An iconic dessert in Canada is the Nanaimo bars. Named after a city on Vancouver Island, it is a small, sweet square,” he said.
It is described as a three-layered, rich and sweet, chocolatey confection. It became popular in cookbooks after 1950.
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