I love that Canada Day and its American counterpart, Independence Day, occur just days apart. Not just because for some people it means twice the parties, but because these events often serve to shine a deserved spotlight on the culinary traditions of both countries. Lists upon lists are regularly published highlighting ‘authentic Canadian foods’ such as poutine, TimBits, beaver tails, sugar pie, Montreal-style bagels and smoked meat, Nanaimo bars and so forth. The American lists are often lengthier, citing such things as Chicago deep dish pizza, apple pie, Philly cheesesteaks, hotdogs, clam chowder and Southern pulled pork. I confess I have a fondness for many of these North American temptations, but what really gets me excited is food that connects us to the land we love.
Michele Geenst’s recently-published cookbook The Boreal Feast, is a gorgeous tribute to the food of the North – not only Canada, but other nations that are home to boreal forests. She worked with chefs, foragers and food producers familiar to her as a longtime resident of Whitehorse, as well as new collaborators whom she met in Norway, Finland and Sweden. Coupled with her first, award-winning book The Boreal Gourmet, Michele’s work is a marvelous contribution to chronicling the unique foods and culinary traditions of northern dwellers.
One of Michele’s supporters in this project was Sweden’s ambassador to Canada, Teppo Tauriainen, who helped make some pivotal introductions. He also graciously hosted a lunch at his residence in Ottawa, to help the launch the new book . The embassy’s talented chef, Cole Baker, recreated the Summer Solstice Feast menu from The Boreal Feast. Below are some photos from that incredibly tasty event which has inspired me to want to cook as many dishes as possible from this book. If that means I have to travel to gather ingredients, I can’t wait!