The Sweetest Crumb

The Canadian Food Experience Project: My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

Happy Friday, everyone!

Today I wanted to share a new project that I’m participating in. Valerie Lugonja of A Canadian Foodie has put together the Canadian Food Experience Project which begins on June 7, 2013. She’s gathered together a group of Canadian food writers and bloggers who will write monthly articles on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project will help us explore and share our Canadian food identity which, I know, is sometimes hard to do. Honestly, how many of us have struggled to explain what Canadian cuisine is when we meet travellers from other countries? Maple syrup, poutine, caesars… and my list is basically complete ;)

I am really excited to join in on the project with so many great writers and Canadian food advocates. I hope you guys enjoy these monthly posts and encourage you to take a look at the articles of other participants.

My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

Since my family immigrated to Canada when I was 6 years old, my first Canadian food experience (authentic or not) took place in 1994. Staying in a hotel our first week in Canada, we discovered both Raisin Bran cereal and peanut butter (in those little single-serving squares) at breakfast. Having just arrived in Canada, both of these foods were entirely foreign to us and I whole-heartedly believed they were authentic Canadian foods. Not to mention, I thought these were the most delicious foods in the world! As a result, I remember eating A LOT of Raisin Bran and peanut butter in our first year in Canada.

Things have changed slightly now. First off, I can’t stand Raisin Bran anymore. Second, I realized that those typical hotel breakfast foods may not be as authentically Canadian as the 6-year old version of me thought.

So what was my first authentic Canadian food memory? What is authentically Canadian food? It has to be more than just poutine (although poutine IS delicious).

For me, Canadian food is food which is influenced by the countless cultures which co-exist and shape our country. It can be the French Canadian cuisine or what’s served at that one Chinese food restaurant which can be found in virtually every small town in Alberta. But also, Canadian cuisine is food which celebrates the produce and livestock that we are proud to have locally: British Columbia salmon or sea buckthorn berries that grow throughout the prairies.

So while I can’t easily pinpoint my first food memory, there are a few which particularly stand out. First, is having Christmas dinners where the food is clearly from a mix of our traditional and adopted cultures. On our table you will find a stuffed turkey and cranberry sauce, dishes almost unheard of back home, as well as many Ukrainian salads and sides including rye toast and caviar. I also have fond memories of joining my parents in foraging for mushrooms in the forest and picking Saskatoon berries until our baskets and stomachs were full. Finally, I can recall being out with my parents where we fished for trout, later hearing it crackle in tinfoil while it cooked over our campground fire.

While none of these memories have a poutine in sight, I think they are all authentically Canadian in their own way.

6 comments on The Canadian Food Experience Project: My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

  1. Redawna
    June 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm (2696 days ago)

    What a fantastic post!

    Reading the posts from everyone this evening I am already starting to get a feel for the commonality between all our first Canadian food memories!

    What a fascinating project to be a part of.

    • Genia Rodnyansky
      June 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm (2695 days ago)

      Thanks – I can’t wait to read through everyone’s articles!

  2. A Canadian Foodie
    June 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm (2695 days ago)

    I have never tasted Sea Buckthorn… it isn’t native to Alberta, is it? I had one for 4 years, and just when it was about to fruit, my husband yanked it out. :( Love him, anyway. Your parents were clearly cook by scratch people in the 90′s when they brought you here, or you would not have enjoyed those amazing Canadian foraging and fishing experience. Lucky you. Berry picking was a part of my life… every berry throughout the season, and gardening, and killing the hens… but not fishing. Not foraging. Too bad, but I think my childhood was pretty typical that way. Few Alberta families foraged until recently. Very recently. So, what do sea buckthorn taste like… got to do a little research on them. Thrilled you have joined the project, Genia! (Did you see my recipe for Russian Salad – how does it compare to yours?)

    • Genia Rodnyansky
      June 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm (2694 days ago)

      I’m not sure where Sea Buckthorn is native to, but it can definitely be found growing in the prairies :) We had lots growing in Ukraine as well and its quite popular there – often we make tea with it. It has a very very tart taste but is good with honey. Its also said to have tonnes of health benefits. Oh yes, my parents have always been “from scratch” people and I appreciate having that influence in my childhood:). I checked out your Russian salad recipe. It is very similar to the way we make it at home – we don’t usually use ham in ours though but use chicken, beef or lamb instead and use canned peas instead of frozen. The salad is called “olivier” and there are several other classic russian salads which often make an appearance during holiday dinners at our house. Thanks again for having me as part of the project. Can’t wait for next month’s challenge!

  3. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)
    June 16, 2013 at 7:52 pm (2687 days ago)

    Well, you did find some real Canadian foods very quickly. Love your story and being a 5th generation Canadian I have done all these things myself. However, I have just discovered sea buckthorn. They were not so common until recently.

    • Genia Rodnyansky
      June 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm (2686 days ago)

      Thanks, Sarah! I’m looking forward to experimenting with sea buckthorn more in the coming months – maybe trying to make an ice cream!


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