Taste of home: Create a sense of belonging with food
By: Alisa Samuel
Published on: April 10 2023
Researchers say nostalgic food consumption helps with homesickness. What is food nostalgia and why is it helpful in managing homesickness? “Nostalgia” comes from the Greek words nostos (homecoming) and algos (ache). When you long for the home you’ve left behind, what you’re feeling is nostalgia.
If you’re struggling to settle into a new country, making traditional recipes can transport you back to your old home. This is because taste triggers memories; memories of eating with friends, preparing meals for family, and celebrating special occasions like birthdays.
But using food too often to block negative emotions rather than satisfy hunger is unhealthy. Overeating makes the body work harder to break down food. Plus, extra calories result in weight gain. Soon the dishes you once enjoyed could start causing you health problems.
So, don’t just eat your favourite dishes alone to temporarily boost your mood. Share your cultural recipes with the people you meet in Canada instead. Recreate family dinner nights with potentially good friends. Build new memories at the kitchen table rather than visit happy times in the past. Or, better yet, why not explore these Canadian foods when you’re feeling nostalgic, and grow a little bit more in your Canadian identity?
The Poutine originated in Canada’s French-speaking province of Québec. It’s a street food dish of rubbery cheese bits, brown gravy, and French fries. As poutines make their way around the world, you’ll find many cultural variations of this dish. Some toppings pay tribute to specialities like Butter Chicken and Philly Cheesesteak. You can’t go wrong with a classic, though. Enjoy a traditional poutine recipe from Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Tourtière is a kind of savoury meat pie that, like the poutine, comes from French-Canadian culture. It’s traditionally eaten around Christmastime. Tourtière recipes get passed down through generations. Throughout the year, French-Canadian mothers sometimes bake and freeze pies that they then give to their kids during the festive season.
Tourtière has a buttery pastry crust that’s filled with meat. The meat is spiced with a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Some recipes include potatoes and onions like this one from Chatelaine.
McIntosh Apple Pie
The McIntosh Apple is Canada’s national apple. It’s an all-purpose green apple with juicy white flesh and skin that has some red spots. We say “all-purpose” because McIntosh apples can be eaten either raw or cooked. They taste a little sour when eaten fresh but sweeten as they ripen.
John McIntosh, a Scottish-Canadian farmer and fruit breeder, mysteriously discovered McIntosh apple seeds on his Ontario farm in 1811. You see, apples are not native to Canada. In the early 1600s, Frenchmen started planting apple orchards when they settled here. Today, McIntosh apples grow widely and wonderfully in eastern Canada, British Columbia, and north-eastern United States.
Check out this prize-winning McIntosh apple pie recipe featured in Canadian Living. After making it, try warming up your slice over a campfire in the company of others. Then, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some crushed walnuts.
According to a 2012 study in consumer eating behaviours, sweets are often associated with pleasant memories. Create pleasant memories in your new home with one popular Canadian sugary treat: the Beavertail. The beavertail is a simple pastry made of whole wheat dough that’s hand-stretched and deep-fried (no, you wouldn’t actually be eating the leathery rear end of Canada’s largest rodent). Like a doughnut, beavertails are chewy and crispy at the same time.
Since 1978, the snack franchise BeaverTails® has been serving beavertails to people all across Canada. They offer different flavour combinations like chocolate hazelnut spread and banana slices. Have a look at their website for more product information.
It’s impossible to talk about Canadian sweet food without talking about Maple Syrup. Canada’s maple syrup industry supports the country’s economy. The industry is responsible for almost 75 per cent of the world’s maple syrup production.
As maple trees grow, they bulk up with starch. Once snow starts to melt in the spring, the starch turns into sugar and mixes with the water that the roots of the trees absorb. This mixture of sugar and water is called sap. Sap streams out of maple trees between February and April each year.
Mostly in Québec is sap collected and boiled down into the thick and silky sauce we know as maple syrup. Maple syrup can be used in a variety of dishes. It comes in an assortment of qualities, colours, and flavours.
Here are 12 easy recipes from Today’s Parent that call for maple syrup.