On Your Tables: Ginger Beef, Caesars and Butter Tarts

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Readers of the Canada Letter were keen to highlight their local and provincial contributions to Canadian cuisine after I presented my inadequate and incomplete list a few weeks ago.

Among your numerous emails came one from Jacqueline Fobes, a reader from Pebble Beach, Calf., And drew my attention to a great book on the subject: "Speaking in Cod Tongues". I called Lenore Newman, its author, and Canadian Food Safety and Environment Research Director at the University of Fraser Valley, British Columbia.

Professor Newman told me that she was inspired to cross the country and look for sources for locals. Food pride of a student "obsessed with Nanaimo bars". She found research grants that, among other things, enabled the student to investigate whether the bars actually came from Nanaimo (they are).

"That brought me into the larger history and role of women in the 1950s, their life in Mühlenstadt and the kitchen they created," Professor Newman told me.

It defines Canadian cuisine partly according to what it is not.

"We don't have many recipes, and it depends on the type of our kitchen," she said. "It doesn't mean it is less developed. There are many kitchens around the world that are not recipes.

Instead, in Canadian cuisine, according to Professor Newman, everything revolves around" characteristics of seasonality, the inclusion of wild foods, the multicultural incorporation and the ingredients. "

Some of you, too many to name, have noted the lack of butter tarts on my list. It was a result of doubts and cowardice on my part. I intended to include butter tarts as a contribution to Ontario until I came across other provinces that claimed them, but Professor Newman assured me that they actually came from Ontario.

[Read: The Passions of the Butter Tart]

Marc LaPlante from Kingston, Ontario, and six other readers pointed to another missing object from Ontario: "Great Canucks, how can you express the joy of being used?" atenen sweet BeaverTail from the Ottawa Valley do not list? ", wrote LaPlante.

Most commonly related to skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. The BeaverTail is essentially flattened donut biscuits made from whole wheat flour and fried. The company that owns the name says it was first sold in 1978 by its founder Grant Hooker in Killaloe, Ontario. I speak for many parents and I am sure that I have less good memories of convincing small children that they were bought on every skating trip on the canal.

Ten readers brought up Calgary's very important contribution: ginger beef. Professor Newman describes it in her book as “deep-fried strips of beef in a sweet sauce with fresh ginger, garlic, and hot pepper, usually with a few carrots and onions.”

While it is now a staple in most Chinese restaurants in Canada, Bill Corbett traces its origins back to the Silver Inn restaurant.

He was also one of several readers who highlighted Calgary's creation of Caesar. While this is happening in the beverage field, it is an opportunity to view Robert Simonson's article on how Canadians define the cocktail.

[Read: It Came, It Quenched, It Conquered Canada: The Caesar]

My mention of Vancouver and its Indian pizza led to emails about two other variations of pizza. Cara Stewart reported that pirogi pizza can be found in Saskatchewan. I won't judge until I try again.

Bill Weaver pointed out that Hawaiian pizza – stuffed with ham and canned pineapple – came from Chatham, Ontario. "Although the topping creates some polarized views, I think adding pineapple has improved the taste of pizza," he wrote.

Finally, several readers, including some of my friends, suggested finding the peameal bacon sandwiches at two stalls in St. Lawrence Market to define Toronto foods. The claim that they're coming to Toronto, however, seems to be quite a distance away, like bagels and smoked meat to Montreal.

Professor Newman suggested that it could be impossible to find a defining food for Toronto, a city with lots of food.

"I don't think there will ever be a typical dish in Toronto," she told me, adding that the city was "just too global and multicultural".

  • Boris Johnson won a resounding election victory this week in Britain as Canada left the country politically divided according to regional considerations. The photographer Andrew Testa took a photographic portrait of the nation as it now faces Brexit.

  • Like their Canadian counterparts, natural gas producers in the United States are hoping for a possible export of liquefied natural gas to reverse falling prices due to a global gas spill. Clifford Krauss's reporting suggests that both may be disappointed.

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