Je t’aime French Canada, Yes All Of It!

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quebecflagFirst and foremost, the French spoken in Quebec is FRENCH!  I have such a pet peeve about people saying that it’s different.  French people from France and people in Quebec can totally understand each other… well usually.    To me it’s the same as saying that the English of North America is 18th century English (which may be true), but GEESH! we can still understand Downton Abbey, right?

The French started exploring Canada or what they called ‘New France’ at the beginning of the 16th century and found basically the same things the English found when they started to explore the future US of A, native peoples, lots of wild animals and trees.  The name ‘Canada’ even came from the French who heard the Iroquois use the word ‘kanata’ to describe their villages.   Jacques Cartier is the first to pen the word in his journals.

tourtiereAlong with the language, the French brought their recipes and adapted them.  A large part of the French explorers came from north and south-western France, ie, Normandy and Brittany, as well as Aquitaine and Auvergne and so the food reflects influences from those provinces.

Tourtière, a French-Canadian specialty, is a big meat pie filled with pork, beef and vegetables, mashed potatoes and the requisite crust.  The word, tourtière, has origins in Latin of course (notice it looks like tarte or torte) and refers to basically what we call a Dutch oven.  It was used as an oven by explorers to bake and then became synonymous with the pie.

Tarte au sucre, or sugar pie, one of my favorites, is similar to a pecan pie without the pecans.   This pie has its origins in France and Belgium and as the French-speaking explorers moved south exploring the Mississippi, the recipe morphed into sugar-cream pie and is common in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Speaking of sugar, maple syrup, figures prominently in French-Canadian cooking.  First referenced by one of André Thevet, a chronicler of the French explorations of the Americas, maple syrup was a large part of the native people’s cuisine and was embraced by the French.  There are few things as delicious as Pain perdu (lost bread) or as Americans know it, French toast, slathered with butter and maple syrup.  mapleleaf

oreillesdecrissesOreilles de crises (oh ray de krees), literally, Jesus’ ears is another French-Canadian specialty.  Deep fried pig jowls and skin, this marvel of human culinary experience is normally served with maple syrup in ‘cabanes à sucre,’ sugar cabins set up to boil down the maple sap.

It would be totally remiss to write about French-Canadian cooking without mentioning Poutine.  Poutine, a heavenly concoction of French fries, cheese curds, and meat gravy, is hands-down Canada’s contribution to the world of comfort food (great as a hangover remedy).  The word, most agree, is related to the English word, pudding, although similar sounding words that come from France claim the origin.

poutine1And in our days, French influence on the food of Quebec is stronger than ever with restaurants in Montreal and Quebec City featuring foods that fuse the best of cooking technique from France with the local richness of Quebec products and culinary history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Aiudi
Robert Aiudi, a.k.a., The Language Chef, has been known to his friends and family as a “language junkie” nearly his entire life. He is fluent in many, conversational in others and can fake it through another large amount of some of the most exotic languages in the world. He has taught and tutored many happy students, and annoyed people over the years by asking "how do you say that?".

From his young years surrounded by speakers of three different dialects of Italian, to university in France and German and extensive work in Asia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Robert has picked up languages and breathed in the cuisines of many countries. Translating from 27 languages into English, Robert is a repository of anecdotal and factual information about languages of all sorts which adds flavor and depth to the Language Chef.

An expert amateur cook, Robert has worked in Paris in small bistro, made pizzas in Florence, wrangled recipes out of the hands of German grandmothers in the Black Forest, worked in a Chinese restaurant and had ad hoc cooking lessons in restaurants in China, Taiwan and Japan as well as various Chinatowns. Most importantly, Robert, his mom and dad, two grandmothers and lots of aunts from Italy have made culinary magic in their kitchens for generations.
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