Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Southern Food vs. Canadian Food

A while back I promised this entry, and I got sidetracked by frogs, lists and children, so here it is.

Being a Canadian living in the southeastern United States has posed some interesting challenges for me: accents, a reeeeeally slow pace of life, and food. The food is really different, but I love it nonetheless. So I got to thinking about some of my favourite foods and how they might stack up against each other in a to-the-death cage match.

Pecan Pie vs. Butter Tarts

This was a toughie for me, as I happen to love both of these almost equally well. Truth be told, they're almost the exact same thing, really. They're both sugar based pies, but where pecan pies have (duh!) nuts, butter tarts have raisins. I love butter tarts. I grew up eating these with a cup of tea on the side (heavy on the milk). While I like pecan pie, I don't think I could gorge myself on it the way I can with butter tarts. The crust is different, more like shortbread. And I like mine just a touch runny. And of course, I can't buy them here, so I have to bake them myself. Oh, and for Americans who have no idea what a butter tart is, here's a linky, although I take issue with Wikipedia's ingredient list. I've never seen these made with nuts before.


Greens vs. Boiled Cabbage

Um, okay, no brainer on this one. Greens, be they collard, mustard, or turnip win this one hands down for me. I grew up eating very English food: bangers and mash (sausages and potatoes) with a side of boiled cabbage was a regular weekly occurrence. It's filling, it's tasty, and it's cheap. I've got nothing against boiled cabbage, especially when it's laced with a ton of butter and salt and pepper. But there's something about biting into tender greens, simmered for an hour with a couple of ham hocks or smoked turkey wings, and seasoned with pepper vinegar that just does it for me. And, if I do say so myself, I make some kick-ass greens.

Winner: GREENS

Sweet Tea vs. A Cup of Tea

I can't drink southern sweet tea. Goodness knows I've tried in order to preserve family harmony (and because a lot of times, there's nothing else to drink). But in my opinion, it's like trying to suck watered down corn syrup through a straw. A word of wisdom to my Canadian friends: be careful if you ever come down here and order tea thinking you're going to get a steaming mug. You'll get a tall, ice filled glass covered with the sweetest beverage known to man. I almost choked the first time I tried it. I now order it "unsweet" and risk the hostile stares from other restaurant patrons. For my Southern friends, if you order tea up north, you're likely to be brought a small stainless steel tea pot filled with boiling water and a couple of tea bags tucked in a mug. Just so you know.

Winner: Cup of Tea

Grits vs. Poutine

Okay, my American friends, here's a quick lesson in strange Canadian foods. Poutine (not to be confused with Russian leader Vladimir Putin) originated in Quebec in the 1950's. It consists of french fries, covered in cheese curd, and then topped with brown gravy. I tried to think of something as weird on the southern side, but instead I came up with my favourite divisive food, grits. Poutine is certainly an acquired taste, so is grits. But I've never been able to wrap my head around cheese curds and gravy. I love fries, I love gravy, and I like cheese curds. I even like gravy on fries. But I can't eat them all together. I think it looks gross. Sorry, but I'll take a hot bowl of buttered and salted grits any day. Regular readers know how I love my grits (see some of my earlier posts if you're new here), so I don't think there's any competition.

Winner: GRITS

So I guess I'm really a half and half mixture now of Southerner and Canadian. Do you guys have foods you think I should have compared? The only other thing I can think of that's really uniquely Canadian is ketchup flavoured chips, which you can't buy in the States. If you haven't tried them, they are yummy, and my friend Jill brings them to me whenever she visits. And Jill, we're out of chips, okay?


The Rotten Correspondent said...

Well, as a Californian who spent part of each summer in Alabama with the grandparents, I know where you're coming from. Love grits beyond description, but only with butter and salt. My grandmother thought I'd been dropped on my head because I didn't like redeye gravy on them. Yuck. Hate sweet tea, love greens and also boiled cabbage with cider vinegar on it. Pickled okra, anyone? Fries with gravy and cheese curd? hmmm...

The Rotten Correspondent said...

hey Jen,
Do you know what happened to Daydreamsupercollider? Her site is gone.??

Gurnal said...

Some may want back my Southerner card...but I've never been a huge fan of pecan pie. Butter tarts I may want to try. By the way...for all those who may be confused, the nut in the pie is pronounced (pih-CAHN)...not like something you go to the bathroom in. Greens: a big winner for me. Grits as well. I've always preferred hot tea over coffee or iced tea.

Now...I just want to know if there's a Canadian equal to "Hoppin' John".

Jen said...

Hey RC, I like the red eye gravy, but only if it's made with hot sauce and really strong coffee and comes with a side of country ham.

As for Daydreamsupercollider, a while back she had posted that she didn't like the URL for her blog, and that she was going to start a new one. She disabled access to her profile, and then the next thing I know her blog has been deleted. I took it off my links since the site doesn't exist anymore. Haven't heard from her since, and I've been a bit worried. If taqdeer stops by, maybe he's got more info, or Flutterbot, because I think DDSC posted there too.

And Gurnal, I think we may make you an honarary Canadian!


jillian said...

Mr. Gurnal...

It's pronounced PEA-can. Then again, you say toMAYto, I say toMAHto. Bottom line is - it's a nut in sugar and butter, baked in a crust and tastes pretty good. My dad made a really mean PEAcan pie. I used to love how the kitchen would smell when they were baking. Great - now I want pie.

Grits??? ugh. Definitely an acquired taste - one for which I have not. Not such a big fan of the poutine either - although on occasion when I really want to clog my arteries, it's ok. Has to be made with fresh fries though - and only the best kind of cheese curds - fresh is always the best.

Greens vs. boiled cabbage. This is a tough one. I like them both; for different reasons. "Typical Southern Greens" I only get when I come visit Jen, so it's more of a treat for me (if greens can be a treat). Boiled cabbage brings back memories of the boiled dinners that my Nana used to make for us when we would go to visit. Everything in one pot - boil it all with spices and when it's done a little mustard sauce on the side. Yum.

Sweet tea vs. tea. Since they're two very different things it's hard to compare them. I love iced tea (which sweet tea is basically called up here in the great white north) although it's not the equivalent of corn syrup in a glass as it is in the southern US. Iced Tea up here is usually the mix stuff you can get in the store and it's not as sweet as the other stuff. I like a little sweet in my iced tea for sure - but not the corn syrup sweetness of southern sweet tea. I concur with Miss Jen that there is nothing better than a butter tart and a cup of tea at the end of a rough day; although I drink my tea with just a little sweetner in it. Gurnal - next visit there will be a box of butter tarts on the way for you!

Other Can vs. US comparisons. Moosehead beer vs. Bud. NO COMPARISON! Moosehead kicks - our alcohol content is higher (sorry, but US beer tastes like toilet water - not that I know what that tastes like mind you!).

What about Dill Pickle Chips or Creamsicles? Remember those? Maple syrup - fresh from the tap in the tree in Montreal - seriously the best thing ever.

I'm sure I'll think of some other things that are distinctly canadian - but it's freaking hot outside right now and I think my brain has melted - or what's left of it!

And yes, you'll get some more ketchup chips.


taqdeer said...

Hi Jen :)

You got good taste in fun food :)

As for DaydreamSuperCollider, she said that she is a bit caught up and that she will put up her new page as soon as she got a chance :)

I also hope she's ok.

taqdeer said...

ps: She said that you can all leave the chocolate Turtles in my care while she's away :P

Gurnal said...

Jill...I guess we'll agree to disagree. In a nice way of course. Look forward to the butter tarts.

Mom said...

Hey Jen,
Finally decided to comment! Strangely enough, I have developed a fondness for 'true' greens as you describe, and even grits in small doses. Can't do the sweet tea either.
I do miss the butter tarts, unfortunately I lost my copy of the recipe recipe. How about the fish&chips with real malt vinegar, or French tortiere with mashed buttered turnip on the side? BTW, really love what you're doing with this blog :)

nikki said...

Hi Jen, I agree with all your choices! I remember the first time I ordered ice tea in the states and I was shocked when I tasted it and it was actually iced tea! lol I guess I am used to the Canadian artificial stuff =)

I am hungry after reading your post!

Flutterbot said...

Speaking of Souther food this is my recipe for.. well maybe its actually northern crap! I don't know I mean its buffalo sauce with fried chicken and Buttermilk ranch dressing.. Its got a bit of an identity crisis. Hrm.. Anyway it gets rave review whenever I make it.. In fact I'm bringing it to a potluck on Friday.. Cheers!


Flutterbot said...

oh yeah and this is what I got on 6/23 from DDSC,

"Happy Summer Solstice to you too FB!

I'm renaming/restarting a new blog and I've bookmarked you so I'll let you know soon."

Jen said...

Hey Flutterbot, maybe it's from southern Buffalo! LOL

It does sound yummy, though, I'll have to give it a try.

Hopefully we'll see DDSC around here soon.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I haven't tried a lot of the stuff you mentioned, but being a Brit I do love a good cuppa. (Cup of tea that is)

I've nevered tried iced tea or sweet tea though.

The thought of cold sweet tea is kind of bleurghhh.

But then we Brits do have dsome gross traditions, like Black Pudding which is apparently dried blood...yum.

Glad I turned veggie a long, long time ago.