Often, I run out of space or time to cover all the book suggestions (and activities that books provoke), so I am devoting this column to catching up with two books, beginning with … Feast: Recipes and Stories From a Canadian Road Trip by Lindsay A
Often, I run out of space or time to cover all the book suggestions (and activities that books provoke), so I am devoting this column to catching up with two books, beginning with …
Feast: Recipes and Stories From a Canadian Road Trip by Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller (2017, Penguin Random House). Although this is not a new book, it is a hot bestseller and constantly sells out at bookstores.
The book is simply a collection of unique Canadian recipes from coast to coast to coast, accompanied by little stories and descriptions not only from the authors, but from a vast array of Canadians, some just ordinary folks from the family farm or those who are in the food sector.
This book is seriously Canadian — from the Maritimes’ Green Tomato Chow Chow, “the unofficial land of chow chow,” to the Yukon Sourdough Cinnamon Buns, which are apparently jumbo in size and baked daily by a fellow who “looks like Santa Claus dressed in biker gear.”
The biggest cinnamon buns I ever saw (and ate) were from a little weather beaten white stucco cafe in the tiny hamlet of Marathon on the Trans-Canada Highway in northern Ontario. The owner, a very jovial woman (my recollection is of her large pink arms) told me that her best customer was her husband, who came every day to eat her blueberry pies. I believe her, as I saw nobody else on the two little dusty streets except the huge mosquitoes and an elderly, scruffy local tinkering with an engine in front of an abandoned Chinese takeout restaurant, its plastic signage shattered by a thrown rock.
The authors of this cookbook are a couple of fun-loving friends and, thus, this is the tone of the book. They even suggest roadtrip snacks, one of which is scones and cream with baked apple jam from a little shop in Newfoundland, or an old-style cheese from Quebec, which they pan-fried on their camp stove in a McDonald’s parking lot.
As with many of us, I have a Canadian food story. When I used to visit Mum and Dad in Fredericton, they would always send me back to the West Coast with food. Mum always made apple jelly, which had a beautiful glistening coral color from the old wild apples she gathered in the overgrown meadows of long neglected farmsteads in rural New Brunswick. On one trip, I mentioned to Dad that I LOVED baloney — I still do, I admit it. Well, Dad then remarked that “bulk baloney is on sale at the Victory Meat Market – a lot cheaper than in Vancouver,” so, Mum and I had to go down to “the Victory” and buy the baloney just to keep the peace, and what a baloney. It was huge! It looked like a torpedo, something out of the war that had not exploded — something you might find on an English beach wedged in the sand from the past.
Mum and I hauled the missile home and Dad beamed at the money we saved.
I never take luggage, only a carry-on, and when I arrived at the Fredericton airport, I put my bag on the security belt. I had the baloney wrapped in tin foil, sitting snugly amongst my clothes.
When it went through the little dark tunnel, a million alarms went off. Security was a new thing at that time and this was exciting for the young pudgy Fredericton fellow in an ill-fitting dark blue uniform who called for backup.
“Open the bag, ma’am,” he said. I pulled out my great missile and meekly said: “My father made me buy it.” Meantime, his partner was sniffing the jar of Mum’s apple jelly, which quite resembled nitroglycerin (used for making bombs, I think).
“We’ll take this for testing,” the backup said, as he placed it in a special plastic bag. They took my baloney, too, and I humbly staggered through to Gate 1 and sat on a beige plastic seat in the corner beside a counter full of lobster key chains for sale, humiliated as the other flyers stared at me in high suspicion, as if I actually intended to blow up Air Canada Jazz on the Fredericton tarmac with a big baloney.
I wonder if the authors of Feast tried vodka, gin or rye at Park Distillery in Banff.
Stories of Ice, Adventure, Commerce and Creativity on Canada’s Glaciers by Lynn Martel (2020, Rocky Mountain Books Ltd.) tells you absolutely everything about glaciers, including how glacial water is used in commercial production. Meltwater from five Rockies glaciers is used by the Park Distillery.
The book tells you how glaciers are measured, shift, increase, melt and decrease, how they are disturbed (to reach mining areas), used for tourist endeavors, how they are climbed, photographed, traipsed across, protected, and how they are studied . Did you know that there’s an Ice Core Lab in Edmonton?
The lab holds more than 10,000 years of ice evidence on the plant, which “represents invaluable potential for researchers around the world to answer critical climate change questions.”
This book is topical, full of little photographs, and highly readable, and, like food from across this vast country, tells us much about how we live and what we value.