Cuisine Canada has a new blog, http://cuisinecanada.wordpress.com/, and I will be contributing as a voice from Quebec on an occasional basis. I believe strongly in their mission to promote our rich and diverse Canadian cuisine(s), to create an exchange between food professionals across our vast country, thereby strengthening our Canadian culinary identity. Here is my first post: http://cuisinecanada.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/how-to-beat-the-winter-blues-in-quebec-with-food-of-course/
I hardly want to added to the recession talk but ignoring it would leave me with a big, fat elephant in the room. Despite a sluggish winter in the restaurant business, I opt to remain hopeful in reflex to the annoying, aggressive media doom and gloom, but mainly because looking around, I can’t help but notice that food obsessed Quebeckers are surviving remarkably well. So there.
The thing is, food is an upper, an elixir, the perfect weapon or escape for troubled times. When it comes to food, you have to be pretty hard up or down right pessimistic to not find some kind of silver lining, something fun or creative to do, cook and eat, some way to beat the winter blues, especially here in Quebec. We have a joie de vivre clientele that doesn’t really want to let up. We have so much good food. Even the tomatoes don’t taste so bad in winter anymore thanks to competitive greenhouse operations. I must say I might be having a more difficult winter without my put up tomato sauce and all my preserves, but still. There is always the wonderful world of Quebec cheese, and what could be better on a cold winter night than a cheese fondue? Maybe a cassoulet or a venison roast with wild grape must and juniper, a wild mushroom and barley soup, cold oysters with chilli and lemon, or hot steaming mussels with crinkleroot mustard cream, pain de ménage toasted on the wood stove and a salad with Mirabel lettuce and Pierre André Daigneault’s special greenhouse greens.. I’m still not finished with the fall squash, root vegetables and potatoes, and there are still terrific Quebec apples available..
In winter, I don’t think we should beat ourselves up too much about a few imports anyway, for the right products that is (no snow peas from China). We have to have some fun and a touch of the exotic can go a long way in lifting the morale. It is in the off season that I tend to explore the odd exotic ingredients (jicama, tonka bean..), and I will use olives, citrus, truffle and such more than usual, because it’s the only time I feel I can; in summer I have more local abundance than I know what to do with, so it wouldn’t make sense.. I look forward to the winter for that, as well as for any moments to get caught up on inventory, back-logged projects and experimentation.
You see, WITH FOOD to face the winter blues, we have a fighting chance, nothing is ever as bad as it appears, and everyone has a trick or two up their sleeve. And fingers crossed. One foot in front of the other, one dish a time, and next thing you know it’s maple season and spring, a new bounty of ingredients, a fresh source of cheer as colours and crunch flood readily back onto our menus.. By then, hopefully, the looming monster of economic hell will be less frightful, even a thing of the past. If we can survive the winter, ‘he’ doesn’t stand a chance against us and summer food, the farmer’s markets, the ‘terrasses’, the jazz festival.. So there! Hang on, and Bon Appétit!
It isn’t over yet!!
Montreal en Lumière (The Highlights festival):
- The guests: http://www.montrealhighlights.com/volets/table/invites_en.aspx
- The events: http://www.montrealhighlights.com/volets/liste_eve_en.aspx?volet=table
- Cheap treats: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/prices+amid+High+Lights/1274492/story.html
Our duck festival – two weekends left!