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Pierre Berton's plea for real food

More than any other writer, Pierre Berton brought Canadian history to life. Born in the Yukon in 1920, Berton was a journalist, broadcaster and panellist on the long-running CBC-TV program Front Page Challenge. His books on the remarkable people, places and events of the past helped create a national mythology and earned him a spot on the bookshelves and in the hearts of Canadians.

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Three of Pierre Berton's great passions in life - Canada, food, and his wife, Janet - come together in 1967's The Centennial Food Guide. The book, co-authored by husband and wife, is a tribute to a century of good eating in Canada and a testament to the couple's own tastes. In this segment from CBC-TV's Telescope, Pierre condemns artificial food (reserving special disdain for instant coffee) and Janet explains how nothing ever goes to waste in the Berton household. 
The Centennial Food Guide was one of three books Pierre Berton produced in a series of illustrated books published to mark Canada's 100th anniversary. The others were Great Canadians and Remember Yesterday. He would go on to chronicle the Centennial year in his book 1967: The Last Good Year.
  • Research and testing of the book's 128 recipes was extensive. "For an entire winter, we ate not like kings but like early Canadians," Berton wrote in his autobiography, My Times. "After about the 50th meal, one of the children whose favourite dish was Kraft Dinner asked plaintively, 'Hey, Mom? When are we going back to eating normal?'"

• Among its 180-odd recipes, The Centennial Food Guide explains "How to Make Instant Coffee Taste Almost Palatable." The key is in mixing it with a cup of hot milk instead of water.

• In 1963 Berton began hosting The Pierre Berton Show, an independent production that aired on six TV stations at the beginning and 22 by the time it ended in 1973. 

Medium: Television
Program: Telescope
Broadcast Date: May 11, 1967
Host: Pierre Berton, Janet Berton
Duration: 5:21

Last updated: June 14, 2013

Page consulted on May 9, 2014

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