I was excited to learn this week that my cookbook, South Shore Tastes, has been nominated in the English-language Canadian Culinary Culture category of the 2011 Canadian Culinary Book Awards, managed by Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph. The awards take place in November, and between now and then, there’ll be a short list announced for the prize. I’m under no delusions regarding winning, I’m in fantastic company.
But, as they say, it’s an honour just being nominated.
And reviewing the list of books got me thinking about Canadian cuisine–what is it?
In the grand scheme of things, Canada is a very young country, and with a still developing sense of culinary self. Ancient cuisines–Greek, Chinese, Roman are clearly defined in that if say to someone “How about Chinese tonight?”, you know what you’re going to eat. But those civilizations have been around thousands of years.
Added to our youth is the fact that Canada is a melting pot, a land of immigrants (with apologies to the indigenous peoples). Immigrants that have only been here maybe a few generations, and who still cook as they would in their motherlands.
And geography factors heavily as well. Canada is a vast country with a relatively low population, further preventing homogenization of culinary culture. We have pockets of people–Scottish on the East Coast, Ukrainian on the prairies, Chinese on the Pacific coast, and so many more. Then within each province you’ll find smaller pockets. On Nova Scotia’s South Shore there’s a heavy German influence, Acadians along the French shore, Gaelic in Cape Breton.
It would be interesting to pop back in a few hundred years, see how we’re getting on culinarily, see if the fusion of styles has created a defined cuisine.
In the meantime, I’m content to stir the melting pot and enjoy the meal.

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