They ‘Feasted’ across Canada, now they’re in Hamilton Monday
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.”
“Feast” authors Dana Vanveller, left, and Lindsay Anderson.
“Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip.”
“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.