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Introduction

  • Nathalie Cooke

Corps de l’article

With this, our sixth issue of CuiZine, we continue to explore Canada's varied foodways, focusing closely on the elements that prompt us to change our food choices and practices over time.

Sometimes change comes about because of creative innovation, like the addition of foie gras to the iconic staple of Quebec cuisine, poutine, which has become one of Martin Picard’s signature dishes at Au Pied de Cochon. Catherine Turgeon-Gouin’s article on Picard's restaurant and gastronomic project addresses the way Picard is telling the story of a regional cuisine that is nothing short of mythmaking. Food gives us pleasure, brings us together in ways of which we are not always entirely conscious; and food's potential to bring intense pleasure finds moving expression here in Phedra Deonarine’s “Pelau.” But sometimes food choices are entirely conscious, directed by the head rather than the heart, in ways glimpsed in Kate Hargreaves’ witty poem, “Paper Ladder.” At other times, however, change in food practices is not a question of choice at all—as when food allergies loom large, as they increasingly do on the contemporary landscape. Sue Elmslie’s poem reminds us of one powerful motivator: that food can and should be feared as well as enjoyed.

Although the reality of this globalized moment is that seasons no longer dictate what foods can be put on our table, the revival of interest in food markets has prompted a renewed appreciation for the locally-sourced food that is very much influenced by season and the taste of place. Lenore Newman in her visual Pecha Kucha photographic exploration of Montreal's Atwater market reminds us of the powerful impact of the seasons on food supply in this northern part of the world. (Readers of Newman's essay might also be interested to revisit Sarah Musgrave’s illustrated tour of another of Montreal’s food markets, Marché Jean Talon, in CuiZine 1.1). In addition, Deborah Hemming's interview with Pete Hackett, who produces wine in Nova Scotia's Gaspereau Valley, speaks directly about the influence of place on the taste of his grapes and wine. Appreciation for the local emerges too from Catherine Mah’s interview with Lauren Baker, who reveals how action at a local level in Toronto has brought about real and positive change and the implementation of policy. Readers can hear more about Toronto's mindful foodways from Carolyn Levy's review of Edible City: Toronto’s Food from Farm to Fork, edited by Christina Palassio and Alana Wilcox.

Our Petites Madeleines section features two short works of creative writing that look to Canada's Maritime provinces, while also challenging our expectations about regional foodways. Judy Corser ponders with affection the ways of Prince Edward Island—with days filled by multiple welcome and welcoming meals, five rather than the three or four she might have expected, and with names that catch her off guard. Guilia de Gasperi sheds light on the Italian foodways of Cape Breton that served to make her feel at home when away from home. Challenging reader expectations also emerges as a central theme in Nancy Pagh’s book of poems, No Sweeter Fat, here reviewed by Laura Cameron.

While the contributors mentioned so far look to reasons for shifting and distinctive food tastes and practices, other contributions to this issue look at indicators and signs of pivotal change and food choices over time. For example, Fiona Lucas uses the lens of the kitchen sink to identify pivotal moments of technological innovation, but also to explore the symbolic implications of cleanliness. (Readers interested in the latter topic might also be curious to look to Alexia Moyer's article “All Kinds of Dirty” in CuiZine 2.1.) Catherine Bradley's illustrated study uses the changing shape and design of aprons as a lens through which to glimpse watershed moments in the social history of North America, particularly in terms of women's changing roles both within and outside the kitchen. Food and its relationship to gendered identity, indeed to identity writ large, also comes under scrutiny in a 2011 exhibit at the Mississauga Art Gallery curated by Tara Marshall and reviewed here by Victoria Dickenson. In our own CuiZineArt section, Lynda Hall uses the lens of her own camera to capture the subtle beauty of pizza pans, and tease out the layers of possibility within them.

The range and number of images here—from Lynda's original photography to illustrations of sewing patterns, book covers, a farmer’s market and museum exhibit—display the versatility of the born digital format. My thanks, once again, to McGill Library and Érudit for supporting and producing this issue of CuiZine. I also graciously acknowledge funding from the Faculty of Arts at McGill University for editorial support; for assistance in translation, Daoud Najm and Scott Kushner; and for editorial support, Deborah Hemming. In turn, for the wealth of insights, I offer thanks to the contributors themselves, as well as to the anonymous reviewers whose comments have helped to hone and guide the submissions. The last words, however, must go to thank and bid farewell to Ariel Buckley who, like Lara Rabinovitch for the inaugural two issues, has been my colleague in this culinary adventure. Ariel’s editorial hand is responsible for much of what you have read during the past three issues, including the addition of a popular section on creative writing, Petites Madeleines.