There’s no taste like home

July 10th, 2012

I love visiting local supermarkets when traveling abroad. Yesterday, the Littlest Who and I were sent to the grocery store on an errand, and we had so much fun ogling over all the strange delicacies. Well, strange to him, anyway. For me, every trip down the aisle was as much a trip down memory lane as a sightseeing tour.

In the sightseeing category, there’s a Canadian store brand called President’s Choice that puts out wonderfully imaginative, innovative (oh, and tasty) stuff, and it’s always fun to see what clever new nom-nom they’ve come up with. Like penguin-shaped chocolate brownies that waddled into our cart.

Down memory lane, are all my old favorites, like MacLaren’s Imperial Cheese Spread (so good on toast with apricot preserves), Shreddies cereal,  and Crunchie bars (chocolate coated sponge toffee). Canadian food, as you might infer from that short list, is heavily British influenced.

But traditional Newfoundland food has even a longer history, and it’s still thriving, if shelf space is any indication. There are several meals that could be said to be Newfoundland’s national dish, but fish and brewis probably has the best claim. The main ingredients are pictured above–dried, salted cod (“fish” means cod here, unless otherwise stated), boiled with hard tack biscuits, both components having been soaked in fresh water overnight to render them edible. It tastes better than it sounds. Or maybe not. It’s kind of one of those things in the category of soul food, like chittlins. It looks and sounds disgusting unless you grew up with it.

To balance this feast of salt and bland, we have mustard pickles. One of our courtship tales that has now passed into family legend involves this condiment. Patrick has an acute aversion to both pickles and mustard. The first time my mother offered him a spoonful of the two combined, to accompany the traditional home-cooked meal she’d prepared, he thought for sure it was some kind of ritualistic hazing. Or deterrent.

Either way, he passed the mustard. Welcome to the family.

 

4 Responses to “There’s no taste like home”

  1. Beth says:

    Hello, lovely!

    I share your enthusiasm for grocery stores in foreign places. Oh, wait – it’s just enthusiasm for food in general…

    I’m also pretty excitable about bulk food neatly stacked at my fingertips, as your photos convey. I tend to rant about those sorts of things separately over at The Food Adventuress (www.thefoodadventuress.com). Yup – I like talking about food so much I needed a whole separate platform for it. Sad.

    Hope you’re having a blast. Think I’m going to have to come corner you for cocktails or something when you get back.

    As you were.

  2. Lesley says:

    Fellow ex-pat Canadian here. “Tastes of home” are universal touchstones, I think. For Winnipeggers, like me, it’s Oscar’s corned beef, Jeannie’s cakes, smoked goldeye, City rye bread and a few others depending on your ethnic origins! McLaren’s cold pack cheese is the best! If you ever want a recipe for a tasty little cheese cookie using McLaren’s give me a shout! Enjoying your summer vacation blog.

  3. Lee Cockrum says:

    A Canadian friend served me crackers made with McClaren’s. I loved them! I had to pay a pretty penny to get some McClaren’s here in Baltimore! Looks like you are having a good time!

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