They ‘Feasted’ across Canada, now they’re in Hamil­ton Mon­day

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - EMMA REILLY

Try­ing to nail down Canada’s na­tional iden­tity is no easy task.

But at­tempt­ing to pin­point Canada’s culi­nary iden­tity? Given the di­ver­sity of the cli­mate and pop­u­la­tion, and the sheer ex­panse of our ge­og­ra­phy, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble. Al­most. That’s where Lind­say An­der­son and Dana Van­veller come in. They are the au­thors of “Feast: Recipes and Sto­ries from a Cana­dian Road­trip,” a cook­book and trav­el­ogue pub­lished in March that doc­u­ments their five-month trip across Canada in Van­veller’s tiny white car.

An­der­son and Van­veller ate their way across the coun­try, sam­pling lo­cal spe­cial­ties in all 10 prov­inces and three ter­ri­to­ries — from bi­son sausage rolls to goat cheese blanc­mange with rhubarb and honey to Yukon sour­dough cin­na­mon buns. The recipes in their book come from chefs, home cooks, blog­gers, First Na­tions el­ders, home cooks and restau­ra­teurs they met dur­ing their trav­els.

The au­thors are stop­ping in

Hamil­ton Mon­day evening for an event co-hosted by Epic Books and Toast Wine Bar where res­i­dents can meet the au­thors, ask ques­tions and sam­ple some of the recipes col­lected dur­ing their trip.

So what did An­der­son and Van­veller dis­cover on their quest to pin­point Canada’s food cul­ture?

“Peo­ple have for such a long time asked this ques­tion: What is Cana­dian food? Ev­ery­one kind of has a dif­fer­ent an­swer,” Van­veller said from Toronto Thurs­day morn­ing — fit­tingly enough, from in­side a parked car dur­ing the most re­cent leg of their book tour.

“It does the coun­try a dis­ser­vice to try and boil it down to just one thing.”

They found that Cana­dian food is es­sen­tially a col­lec­tion of re­gional spe­cial­ties, tied to­gether by a love of lo­cal pro­duce, meats and dairy.

“I think food is just so foun­da­tional to so many parts of our lives. Whether know­ingly or not, we do iden­tify our­selves through food,” said Van­veller. “It’s just an in­ter­est­ing way to look at your larger story.”

“It’s some­thing that con­nects us,” added An­der­son, “even though the coun­try is mas­sive and mas­sively di­verse. We’re all eat­ing. Two peo­ple can have mas­sive po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, but if you get them talk­ing about food from their child­hood, it’s very likely that they will have an en­gaged con­ver­sa­tion that they en­joy.”

An­der­son, orig­i­nally from Whitby, said she as­so­ci­ates this re­gion of On­tario with fresh sum­mer corn and pick­erel or perch from Lake Erie or Lake Huron.

Van­veller, who orig­i­nally hails from Prince Ge­orge, B.C., points out that only an hour away from Hamil­ton, in the St. Ja­cobs area, tra­di­tional Men­non­ite food pre­vails. One recipe in their book — clas­sic cab­bage rolls — comes from Rose Mur­ray, the pro­lific Cana­dian food writer based in Cam­bridge.

The re­lease of the book is cer­tainly timely, given the Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tions tak­ing place across the coun­try this year.

“Peo­ple are think­ing a lot more this year about Cana­dian iden­tity, and what it means to be Cana­dian,” said Van­veller. “Whether it’s cul­ture, his­tory, land­scape, ev­ery­body’s re­ally turn­ing their fo­cus to Canada.”

PENGUIN RAN­DOM HOUSE

“Feast” au­thors Dana Van­veller, left, and Lind­say An­der­son.

PENGUIN RAN­DOM HOUSE

“Feast: Recipes and Sto­ries from a Cana­dian Road Trip.”

TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

“Feast” au­thors Lind­say An­der­son and Dana Van­veller men­tion on their web­site that they were in­spired by art work from the Group of Seven. Lawren Har­ris fin­ished this one, called “Moun­tain Forms,” in 1926.

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