Photography by Sara Jewell
a bit on what I had set out to do
HAPPY THREE YEARS. Holy shit. How did it go by so fast?
When I set out on this journey with The Nomadic Wife, I was in a very different space then I am today. I used to travel for months at a time, exploring the cultures of the world through the food its people make. It seemed like a revolutionary idea to me at the time to re-explore these dishes using local-to-me ingredients back home in Canada.
I wanted to give context to my past (and future) travels through the food I ate and somehow do that in a very accessible way.
Now, I jokingly say that The Nomadic Wife is neither nomadic nor married. I haven’t traveled since I set up the blog in 2015. We also didn’t get hitched yet… but we are a family. I feel like a fraud because I have only scratched the surface of the cultures I explored and therefore I feel like I am in no position to truly honor them or their food.
So maybe it’s time for a change.
digging into my roots
Through this journey of cultural exploration through food, I found myself yearning more and more to explore my own roots. Who am I? Who are my people? What is my food culture?
My last name is of French descent yet I call myself Canadian-mud. I have absolutely no context for what it means to be French, or a Scot (on my mother’s side). I do, however, had an idea of what it means to be Canadian.
In many ways, we are a youthful immigrant nation with an amalgam of culinary influences & ingredients brought here by the people who migrated to this land. We also have a deeply rooted history of taking over land that in no way belonged to us and using the ingredients of its people. Somewhere in the middle there, is what I believe to be Canadian traditions, ingredients & cuisine.
So, maybe it’s all circular. Maybe I was already on the right track in a way… yet I find myself wanting to honor Canadian food more deeply. To explore the ingredients we produce & their history. What do we eat? Why do we eat it? I would love to meet more of the farmers who produce our food, at a small to medium scale and the people who forage our wild country to find a myriad of edible delights.
I crave the moment when you put a bite of food in your mouth and you experience the land it came from.
How does it all come together?
The photo above is pizza which I made for a long table dinner last summer which highlighted an amazing crop, the haskap. In fact, the entire menu was haskap laden. It was quite a challenge to feature this berry in so many forms and there’s nothing like a good challenge to get me going.
I decided to use as many Canadian ingredients as possible in the menu, thinking that there was no better way to showcase the berry than through the optics of “if it grows together it goes together”.
The crust is made from Albertan wheat with haskap powder mixed in. It’s topped with pesto made from a foraged “volunteer crop” (read weeds, in this case stinging nettle). There’s also some arugula from my garden in there and some Albertan garlic. It’s topped with some grilled mushrooms, greenhouse peppers & mozzarella. I finished these with some flaky Canadian fleur de sel from the BC coast.
While pizza is most definitely Italian, does the use of exclusively Canadian ingredients make it Canadian food? Will the people accept it as such? Can a deeper conversation be had around local food when presented with such a dish?
In part, that is what I am setting out to discover.