In a day an age when we almost fear food, for one reason or another, Jacob Richler takes his readers on an unabashedly down and dirty exploration of Canada’s culinary history, from coast to coast. In My Canada Includes Foie Gras, Richler explores parts of our gastronomic past and present that surely have Health Units and Food Inspectors everywhere wailing and gnashing their teeth. He dissects restaurants, chefs, and diners from a very unique vantage point. Richler just as loving describes dismantling his parents’ cottage kitchen and sorting through his mother’s cookbooks as he does the painstaking steps taken in curing the perfect prosciutto.
I love that this book, completely and without restraint, loves all things Canadian. He finds food to love from coast to coast,Richler turns into a hero the chef that smuggles grouse into the country and finds a loop hole in the over-bearing, ever-present food protection laws that ban the public sale and serving of hunted wild game. Maybe that last point is why I appreciated this book so much. After recently considering the sale of some of my baked goods, I casually checked in with my beloved Health Unit on what it would take to ‘safely’ and ‘legally’ do so. The note that was returned to me was an epistle filled with dangers of feeding the public and warnings about how it might not even be possible where I lived. But this is a topic for another day – let’s not get me started.
I have but one point of contention with Mr. Richler. While it is true that Americans also make a maple syrup that is just as good as ours, they only make a fraction of it (around 20%). When you make most of it, I’d say you do get to call it your own.
My Canada Includes Foie Gras is a great book for culinary history buffs of which most chefs, if they aren’t, should be. Anyone who has ever despaired at the hoops they have had to jump through to serve food to the public will applaud the heroes in this book. And those with maple syrup in their veins? They’re gonna love it, too.