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'More than poutine and Nanaimo bars': 2 cooks dish on Canada's cuisine secrets

Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller took a road trip across the country to find an answer to the question, what is Canadian cuisine?
Lindsay Anderson & Dana VanVeller are the writers of Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip. (Submitted by Lindsay Anderson & Dana VanVeller)

Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller are two friends who spent five months travelling across the country in a small white car, camping, eating and blogging about their adventures in Canadian food. They've written about the food they found and people they met in their cookbook Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip

Defining Canadian food

Lindsay Anderson (LA): "We were camping in Squamish, B.C. and lounging on a fallen log by the river, which became our favourite spot at that one site. We started talking about the idea of Canadian food and how it just doesn't get a lot of respect or acknowledgement. People have this way of saying that Canadian food is nothing more than poutine and Nanaimo bars and that's kind of it. So we thought, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if we went on a big trip across the entire country and explored this idea of Canadian food and came up with a better answer?'"

Dana VanVeller (DV): "When I think of naming a Canadian food, I always think of ingredients like various wild foods or mushrooms or even just a whole slew of berries. I think of elk or bison or salmon or Arctic char or caribou — those kinds of things. One part of Canadian food is that it's very ingredient-driven and you can do lots of things with those raw components."

LA: "Many of which are components of Indigenous cooking and cuisine. If you want to look to the true definition of Canadian food, a lot of the time you need to start with Indigenous cuisine."

Photos from a cross country food road trip:

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      Creating new Canadian dishes

      DV: "We discovered on the road trip that you can eat the fresh young tips of fir or spruce trees. So we decided later on when we had the book that we wanted to use this in a different kind of way. I feel like the resulting dish feels extremely Canadian — a roasted salmon with tree tip pesto. So we played with a few different options for how to use those tips — there's spruce tip beer and sodas around and we wanted to do something that you could actually eat."

      Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller's comments have been edited for length and clarity.