Book Reviews

Book review: A Taste of Canada.

The question of “What is Canadian cuisine?” has been debated for a long time. People eat first and foremost what grows around them and products that are accessible. Today, big city dwellers think nothing of buying tomatoes, or peaches, or grapes in January and which are imported from thousands of kilometres away.
The settlers did not enjoy such luxuries, and First nations had to rely on hunting, fishing, and unique preservation methods to survive. In fact if it were not for sympathetic members of First Nations who taught European settles how grow maize and other indigenous foods, most of the settlers would have perished.

Rose Murray is an accomplished and devoted cook, who grew up in a self-sufficient farm near Collingwood, Ontario, and learned early on from her mother the importance of using local produce and ingredients. She travelled to many parts of Canada and compiled recipes presented in this book.

In her latest book, Taste of Canada, she explains each province’s cuisine and how it evolved, giving credit where due, and reasons for its evolution. She explains the origins of tourtiere, provides and up-dated recipe for perogies, modern coq Au vin, and grilled arctic char with orange-onion salsa. Her recipes reflect modern eating preferences and can be produced easily by anyone with time on his/her hands, and a little interest in tasty food.

Everyone knows about smoked salmon, but how many think of combining smoked salmon with cream cheese balls on a skewer, and to present it with citrus greens?
When you are entertaining foreign guests, try her wild rice pancakes with sour cream and caviar or her recipe of fiddlehead greens. Similarly you can offer a modern tourtiere turnover with phylopastry.

Rose Murray sets the record straight by stating that Canadian cuisine is regional, must be regional, simply because of the size stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, covering several time zones, influenced by immigrants from well over 150 countries, and that it is still evolving. Canadian cuisine is still a work in progress much like the social fabric and government structure.

Food stylist Jennifer Stamper has done an excellent job in her domain and Shawn Taylor excelled in taking pictures. Overall, this is a book that deserves a place in your library, and if you have family or business associates overseas, you might consider buying a few copies to give as presents.

Recipients would be happy and thankful.

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