Thursday, September 25, 2008

Anita Stewart's Canada

I guess the reason I love Canada...the country...can truly be summed up in Anita Stewart's Canada cookbook. The back cover says it best...
"...Canada, an abundant land where the foods and stories are as richly varied as the people"

I was born in Montreal, Quebec, the granddaughter of immigrants from Russia and/or Poland. I say "and/or" because my father used to say that it depended on the day. They, like all the other immigrants who make it to Canada's shores, come for the possibility of finding a safer, friendlier, more prosperous place for their children and grandchildren.

Naturally for the foodie in me, the best part of that blending of cultures, so uniquely Canadian, is the cornucopia of delicious dishes from around the world...some have stayed true to "The Old Country", but most have adapted to their new homeland and the rich bounty of the land and waters.

Anita Stewart, author of thirteen other books and writes for CBC Radio's Fresh Air as well, did a wonderful job of capturing the best of what is found on Canadian tables.

There are many lovely cookbooks on my shelves, and I really do love them all for one reason or another...a regional cuisine, a healthful dietary regime, a particular focus, like entertaining or baking. Usually the ones that touch my heart as well as my stomach also share a history of a people. Stewart's book, in addition to that, provides a glimpse into the homes of people across this land...chefs, innkeepers, farmers, white collar workers... I really did feel as if I were at their tables. Here's a perfect example of her writing style...the recipe is simple, for those rushy days, and unbelievably spectacular, but it's the snippet to set the stage, one of many that makes the book special. I thought I'd share both...

"My friend Frederique Philip came to Canada from France in 1978 and move to Vancouver Island the following year. As the co-owner of Sooke Harbour House, one of the finest inns on earth, she has very little time to cook for herself. Her dinners are simple and fast and full of flavour. She showed me this amazing recipe when she visited Elora one autumn. The amounts can be varied to suit your personal taste and how many servings you need. Grilled medium-rare with fresh garlic from the Guelph Farmers Market,it was the best steak I've ever eaten. We drank the finest Niagara red wine we could afford, and I served the steak with barbecue-roasted Bijou Rouge potatoes...."
Doesn't that just sound so casual, like you were sitting at Anita's table and sharing recipes over a cup of tea?

Frederique's Fabulous Garlic Steak

This dish is so wonderful, and such a surprise to the taste buds, I will definitely be making it often. It will be one of those dishes to wow guests without breaking a sweat.

Whether you're Canadian or not...check out the book. You won't be disappointed.

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