This week you'll hopefully notice that things seem to be a little more Canadian in the foodblogging world. Jennifer of the Domestic Goddess and I are hosting sister events, celebrating our home and native land, under the theme of Mmm...Canada.
Earlier this month Jennifer and I issued a challenge to the foodblogging (and foodblog reading) world. We want to know what Canada tastes like to you. She's interested in all things sweet and I'm interested in the savoury side of life .
For me, savoury or sweet, Canadian food draws upon a mixture of indigenous and introduced foods. And I think this makes sense, given our national history. Settlers and immigrants came here to start new lives, but at the same time wanted to maintain their own cultural identities. Wave after wave came, bringing their own seed and livestock, building upon this land's foods. Some introduced flavours have been here for centuries, while others for only a few years.
With every group of settlers--whether they arrived in the 17th century or the 21st, adaptation was was important. Apart from the weather (-30C in winter and +40C in summer) and eventual cultural, social and political changes, they also needed to find ways of eating that reminded them of distant family and friends with ingredients that were available here.
To be honest, when I first thought of Canadian confections, I thought of two things: maple syrup and wild berries. I know it's a bit cliché on a couple of fronts. Maple syrup because, well, it's maple: we produce 85 per cent of the world's maple syrup and the leaf is on our flag. Wild berries, because they are directly linked to our forests and untamed areas, homesteaders, bears and all that.
Sigh...you'd think I'd do better than that, wouldn't you? I mean, Canadian sweets are plentiful--butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, sugar pie, fruit pies, anything appley, ice cream (I can go on and on)--to immediately leap to two obvious ingredients was a little...anticlimactic.
To paraphrase the late, great James Barber, aka The Urban Peasant and a favoured Canadian cook: "You do the best with what you've got."
How perfect a food theory is that? And how à propos to apply it to Canadian cuisine--I mean it's what we've been doing for years, is it not?
My entry for Mmm...Canada: The Sugar High Edition is my spiced blueberry-maple syrup.
It's a simple twist on two very Canadian ingredients (Elmira purveyed the syrup and the blueberries were harvested last summer from Sudbury, Ontario). Add to that the ubiquitous, familiar and exotic cinnamon and black pepper, and we've got a meeting of East and West, indigenous and imported and sweet and spicy...
Yeah, I think this sweet says Canada to me...
This is one of those bits of instinctive cooking that really doesn't call for precise measurements.
Spiced blueberry-maple syrup
Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Black pepper (optional)
Add all to a sauce pan and bring to a boil while stirring. Lower the flame and let as much of the liquid boil off, leaving as thick a syrup as you wish. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Pour it over buttery pancakes (as shown), over ice cream, fruit fritters...whatever you want.
Check back to Jennifer's site for SHF 44's round up on Canada Day (1 July 2008).