Introducing... the Canuck Puck
WHAT IS WRONG WITH US??? Travel through any small town in Canada, let's say you are starving, you drive down the main strip and choose a restaurant. Unless, maybe, if you are in Quebec with the lovely French Foodies, Nelson or Cowichan Bay(BC) where many hippies live, you are guaranteed, 99% of the time to get this menu..
1. The puck Burger - the patties come in a big frozen box, they are perfectly round and flat as all food should be. Sizzle that grey loaf on the grill, slide one of those gorgeous puppies between a pillowy soft, nutritionally vacant burger bun from Wonderbread and slap on some condiments. Voila - 9 bucks worth of slippery goodness to stick in your throat.
2. Shit pie - Any self respecting diner has a carefully selected assortment of Safeway pies and cakes for your enjoyment. The lardy, soggy crust can be disguised by a dollop of ice cream and the filling is so thick and gelatinous... again with the throat problems.
3. Grill Cheese sandwich - this is the only safe, nostalgic bet you can count on almost anywhere.
4. Clubhouse Sandwich - Another safe bet, but as uninspired as an energy bar.
5. Beef Dip - Our crappy answer to the common Steak Frites in France, possibly.
5. 10 gazillion other menu choices will, I'm sure, be available including; souvlaki, pizza, spaghetti bolognese, hot wings, zucchini strips, onion rings, some include mexi options like quesadillas & fajitas even. More does not = better.
Of course, as a side to any main meal, you have the option of a 'green salad' or french fries. The 'green salad' is strangely, always, head lettuce with brown spots, 3 thin slices of radish, a few shreds of purple cabbage and one 1/4 slice of a mealy field tomato, dressed with your choice of Kraft dressings. Then, enjoy some soggy previously freezer packed french fries that taste like compact sawdust, coat liberally with ketchup to drown your sorrows.
Why am I so mad? On a recent kayaking trip, we ended up staying a night in Powell River which is an old and dying logging town up the coast of British Columbia, we ate at Granada's Greek Restaurant among others. I was fuming; the rice was undercooked pellets, the fish was over battered, the fries were soggy. The portions were huge and the price... nearing $20 for a meal, INSANE! Give me a teaspoon of goodness vs a bucket of slop, please, it'll keep our country out of the US diabetes spiral. If you have taste buds, it is possible to understand how to make truly satisfying if not great food. Why don't our small towns know good from shite? Walk into most Italian, French, Spanish, Mexican villages, even the poorest farmer out in the sticks knows how to cook simply and most of the time stunningly. We all have historical roots in places that have long heritages of understanding what makes the palette sing. It calms the mind and soul to eat good food. I have been forced to eat(cause you can't call it dining) in many of these types of restaurants in my travels through BC and across Canada. It seems, we have lost our adoration, and therefore, understanding of the simple and frequent pleasure of eating.
Okay here comes the preachy, crazed hippy part...I believe, that the industrialized, corporate food system has been mostly to blame. They've brainwashed our whole country into thinking that food should be cheap, fast and hit, not the flavour bell, but the salty, sugary, fatty basics of human craving... GONG. We all have decided that cars & Ikea(to name a few) are worthy of spending our big cash on. The wonders of fresh salsa, homemade bread and slow cooked lamb don't grace our thoughts anymore. Unfortunately, our health and our farmers are paying for our misguided judgement.
There may be a light in the tunnel of our ovens across the country. The move of many big grocery store chains(even in non-central cities like Kelowna, BC) to organic , local products is huge. I'm praying the trickle down effect will influence the surrounding smaller towns with time. Other than that, I have two small pieces of advice for Canada...
1. If you have the cash, pay more for good food at the grocery store, buy local or organic and you will taste the difference. Buy less meat to offset the cost, you don't need to eat it everyday! Keep the trend moving, talk about it.
2. If you move to a small town and are a foodie... open a good restaurant! You'll make a mint and save me from the loonie bin.
Check out the film, Food Inc. if you are interested in knowing more about the North American food system. It's a great movie.