Canada Musings: Food

Hi readers! Sorry I was away so long–I took a fun trip to Canada to visit family. Now I’m back, and am glad to share some musings on my travel…

Something I find incredibly charming about the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario (where my husband and his folks are from) is its abundance of old-fashioned markets. There are farmers markets including that of St. Jacobs, one of the best known in Canada. Because K-W has welcomed so many foreign settlers over the years, there are several specialized markets and butcher shops that cater to the immigrant populations in the area: German stores, Portuguese stores, Polish stores and many others. There is a strong reliance on butchers among these meat-loving peoples.

EuroFoods, a Polish store in Kitchener that apparently has the best sausages ever.

Before landing at Toronto’s Pearson airport earlier this week, my dear father-in-law made sure to head to the butcher first to stock the fridge full of veal bologna, head cheese, salami, pork chops, sausages and hams (for the record, I absolutely refuse to eat head cheese).  Cured meats, cured meats and more cured meats, with some uncured meats stuck in between. One night, I enjoyed a delicious gluttonous dinner at the in-laws’: porkchops, Oktoberfest sausages, heads of garlic and green onions,asparagus, and avocado and cucumer salad. One afternoon, I had a German-style smoked sausage for lunch in the Mennonite village. Later that evening, I had some delicious pork chops and homemade sausage at a good friend’s house for dinner. Two days later, my dear brother-in-law lovingly prepared a big pork roast for lunch to feed all of us. The day before flying back, my father-in-law insisted on preparing pork shish kabobs and Oktoberfest sausages for us.

When I first started dating my husband, his regular consumption of such foods puzzled and worried me. I felt that his traditional Romanian diet needed a great overhaul, for health’s sake. After all, he wasn’t going to get nutritional guidance from his family. Case in point: his 89-year-old grandfather came over for dinner during the gluttonous feast and had two full plates of meat. He refused to take one single vegetable. This is a man who had triple-bypass surgery a few years back.

Over the last nearly 6 years that my husband and I have been together, I’ve slowly given up the diet-overhaul ghost. Eventually, that salty smoked flavor gets the best of you. Each time I visit Canada, I eat a little more pork. I never really used to eat sausage, but now I know them all. Seriously–I now know the difference between Italian sausages and Hungarian sausages, German sausages and Polish sausages. I’ve learned to tell the difference between smoked, boiled, fried and grilled sausages. I know all the different slabs of pork. So I’ve become a seasonal Romanian eater–gladly, albeit moderately, partaking in this unhealthy deliciousness during my twice-yearly visits to Canada.

Now I’m back home after enjoying my sporadic foray into Central and Eastern European fare.  I’ll be eating extra-healthy food and working out hard for the next 6 months to earn my next food vacation. Happy eating!

Enjoying sausage at the St. Jacobs farmer's market.

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