This post is part of The Canadian Food Experience Project where on the 7th of every month for a year, a group of bloggers will write a post with a common theme. This month’s theme is My First Authentic Canadian Food Experience.
There are many things that I recall that I realize now are considered very Canadian, but to me they were just regular life such as: pick-your-own strawberries, butter tarts and Nanaimo bars. There is one day and particular when I was living in Northern Ireland that connected me with Canada and in turn my Canadian identity: Pancake Tuesday. You are probably wondering why I’m writing about living in Northern Ireland for the theme of First Authentic Canadian Food Experience. Stay with me, I’ll explain.
Sometimes it seems like I must have just gotten back a few months ago but then I remember that it was thirteen years ago that I returned from my year in Northern Ireland. The reality of it is, is that I went to Northern Ireland for my third year of university back in 1999. To say I was shy and naive is an understatement. I had been to the U.S. a few times but I had never really been far away from my family before. I saw a poster on the bulletin board of a lecture hall at my university announcing an exchange opportunity to Northern Ireland and I went to the meeting. I applied to the program and I was accepted. That September I left for eight months away in Coleraine, North Ireland.
I arrived in Belfast on a rainy Saturday. There are probably 3 sunny Saturday’s in Northern Ireland a year, so I soon discovered that being slightly damp all the time was the norm. After a lonely weekend where I was the only soul on campus, my fellow students started to arrive. I lived with other international students and I didn’t make friends with Irish students until later in the week.
I have never made friends easily but I did make a couple lasting friendships while I was over there. Most notably, Kevin, who took pity on me and invited me to spend time with his family on weekends and Easter break when all the Irish students made a mass exodus home. Kevin is one of the people I had over for Pancake Tuesday that year.
Even though I’m not a steady church goer, Pancake Tuesday was always celebrated in my house. It was such a treat every year when my mom would make pancakes for dinner and serve it, not with real maple syrup since that was pricey, but with Aunt Jemima syrup or even dark corn syrup. Yep, corn syrup. I always assumed that everyone did Pancake Tuesday and it wasn’t until I got older that I learned about Mardi Grasi. We folks with British heritage don’t really let it all hang out on Shrove Tuesday.
When Pancake Tuesday rolled around and I saw the display the grocery store had set up with all the pancake fixings, I felt a little nostalgic and wanted pancakes for dinner. I was a little perplexed about why there was lemon juice and white sugar as part of the display, right next the maple syrup. I used some of my meagre student grocery budget and bought some of the real maple syrup and spent the evening with my friends as I made pancakes and served them with syrup if they wanted it. One guy wanted the lemon juice and syrup and who was I to argue with tradition.
So what does finding comfort in the British tradition of Pancake Tuesday have to do with an authentic Canadian food experience? The ritual of making pancakes for dinner that Tuesday connected me with home and, I was surprised to find out, my British heritage as well. The funny thing about travel is that while you are away experiencing other cultures & learning about different traditions, you seem to find a way to learn something about your own home.
8 comments June 7, 2013
I’m gearing up for canning season but I still have jam in my pantry from last summer. I want to use it up so my husband doesn’t question me about why I’m making more jam when I haven’t used all the jam I made last year (or the year before that). We were grilling up some chicken drumsticks so I thought I would throw together a quick, homemade bbq sauce.
I used a jar of my Peach Jam with Earl Grey Tea because that is what I had on hand. To be honest, I was looking for a jar of rhubarb jam but we were all out. I’m not surprised that we don’t have a surplus of rhubarb jam. It is a household favourite. Simon puts dollops of it on Greek yogurt. Poor bugger can’t have the pleasure of well buttered toast anymore but I think he is happy enough with eating jam on yogurt.
I’m not sure how much canning I will get done this season but I do know what I want to make this year. Some of it will be old favourites and I hope to add a few new items to the blog. We’ll see though since I will be moving at the beginning of August and I have to go camping in July. Notice how I wrote that I have to go camping? Simon’s family is going camping together and to be a good sport I said we go but only for two nights. I hate camping. I hate being dirty and I loathe mosquitos so much that I’m worried I will be driven a little mad by the little f*#%ers.
Here is a list of the canning I want to get done this year.
- Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jam
- Strawberry Rhubarb Ever After Jam
- Preserved Cherries with Brandy
- a rhubarb bbq sauce
- savoury cherry preserves
- I’d like to experiment with herbs as flavourings
- preserved peaches in honey vanilla syrup
- buckets or rhubarb syrup
- peach syrup so I can finally make this again Honey Vanilla Peach Margarita
What do you have in mind for canning this year? Are you new to preserving? How do you use up last year’s preserves? I would love to hear some of your ideas for inspiration and some tips.
- 1 cup peach jam
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup white wine
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
- Finely mince the onion and garlic and add to heated oil.
- When softened and beginning to brown, add the white wine and vinegar. Let that simmer for a minute and then add the peach jam.
- Stir to mix it well and add the chili powder, salt and pepper.
- Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve over chicken or pork.
2 comments June 4, 2013