Saturday, June 25, 2005
What does Canada taste like to you?
Jennifer at Domestic Goddess wants to know.
To me, Canada tastes like sunshine, summer and the smell of grass. Spring and summer are my favorites times and when I truly feel the most Canadian. Canada is a truly awesome country - full of water, mountains, trees and wonderful people. I think it is most beautiful in the spring and summer; green and bold.
My happiest childhood memories are from summers - swimming, playing, visiting, and eating with friends and family. My parents used the barbecue as much as possible throughout the year, and in fact still do; on Boxing Day 2004 my dad was outside barbecuing steaks in a -30' snowstorm.
Rhubarb is of course not native to Canada. It dates back to ancient China, and is also native to Siberia, Mongolia and Tibet. Up until the late 1700's, it was used solely for medicinal purposes. In the 1780's people began using it as a pie filling. At one time, it was known commonly as "Pie Plant".
It's uses seem unlimited - liquor, sorbet and ice cream, chutneys and relishes, sauces, jams and jellies, pies, cakes, breads, fools, and of course crisps. In some countries rhubarb is used solely in savory dishes.
While Rhubarb is not original to Canada, I think it is a food that we Canadians can and do embrace. Rhubarb thrives in Canada. It easily tolerates our cool winters and occasional cool summer temperatures as well. According to at least one website, some say that the finest quality rhubarb is grown in Canada.
Rhubarb is everywhere in Canada. In everyone's backyard garden and at every farmer's market. Do a search on the web for "Canada Day Recipes" and almost every site will have at least one recipe for something made with rhubarb.
My Mom had a massive rhubarb plant in our garden, and one of the first things she taught me to cook was stewed rhubarb. To me, rhubarb announces that the warm weather is here to stay for at least a while.
The picture at the top of this post is a recipe called Rhubarb Crunch. I found it on the Allrecipes site after my boss gave me a garbage bag full of rhubarb last week. We like it, especially the contrasts; the rhubarb is tart and smooth, the topping is sweet and crunchy. Add some cream as we did, and have a safe and happy Canada Day.