What Gilles Vigneault sang about his country, he might as well have said about our cuisine: c’est l’hiver.
Give me a list of your favourite Canadian dishes, tell me why you think they’re great, and I’ll more than likely agree with you – but only as long as it’s freezing out. Tourtière, cipaille, pork and beans (fêves au lard), medium-fat smoked sandwiches, seal flipper pie, poutine. It’s all lovely stuff. But the days I could eat any of it for lunch on a sweltering July day (oh please, may it swelter) passed me by long ago, roughly when I ceased being a hungover teenager.
Which makes the menu this weekend complicated.
With just one-hundred-and-fifty years under our collective belts we have much to celebrate. And if you’ve taken a hard look around lately, you might even say we have more than our fair share. We are blessed. But face it: so far as it concerns our celebratory table, the fathers of confederation had only signed the BNA act in October or November instead of July it would be far easier to come up with a good Canadian menu to serve to commemorate the deal. Summer is just too short around here for us to have had a fair chance at inventing our own salade niçoise or gazpacho.
But don’t despair: we have worked out what to put on the table all the same. Champagne flutes for starters. Forgo the Krug just this once and fill them instead with some surprisingly fine Benjamin Bridge sparkling rosé from Nova Scotia. Then keep it straightforward: nothing but the finest Canadian ingredients, simply prepared. We’re doing local vegetables and a patriotic surf ‘n’ turf. Dry-aged Ontario rib steaks and a Quebec lobster, the best of Upper and Lower Canada, united on my grill until juste à point.