Canada is a mosaic of cultures, with each person’s unique heritage standing out in the bigger picture. This eclectic mix of people and ethnicities is evident in the culinary hotspots of the country.
If you look at Toronto food blogs such as goodfoodtoronto, the amount of cuisines the city has to offer is staggering. From my own experience, some Hogtown favourites are vegan, Japanese, Korean and Italian. However, Toronto is certainly not lacking in niche cuisines: just this year, I discovered a Nicaraguan restaurant on Bloor Street. As Nicaragua is my partner’s native country, he was very excited to see his country be represented in our food scene!
What I think this diversity of cuisines shows is that every person has food which they can call home, and every one of these homes has a staple food. Every culture and household has their basics: in Japan, rice is the foundation of any meal; in Andean cultures, quinoa; in El Salvador, plantain, and so on and so forth. These staple foods come from availability, affordability and cultural significance.
These staples and their corresponding dishes are part of our internal toolkits. We all have one, filled with knowledge that help us make sense of our world. The concepts in these toolboxes are like second nature, and come to us automatically. Having some recipes in these toolkits can be extremely helpful to know.
The multi-tools of my culinary toolbox are pasta and potatoes. Growing up in an Italian household, pasta has long been something I loved and been taught to cook. Recently, I have been learning how to cook with a variety of alternative grains since my mom was diagnosed with celiac disease. Although her dietary restrictions put some restraint on my family, there is one staple we all love and enjoy: potatoes. With my story in mind, I present two staple recipes that are quick, easy and remind me of home.
2-3 Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced
3 eggs, whisked together
1/2 medium onion (white or red, depending on your personal preference)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp Olive oil
Instructions: Peel potatoes and cut into halves, then slice the half potatoes into pieces 1/2 cm thick. In a small or medium skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat, then put potatoes in. Add 1 tbsp water and let potatoes steam. Once water evaporates, let potatoes cook until outsides are golden. Crack eggs in a bowl and mix until yolk and white are combined, then season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potatoes, then let cook on medium heat until it becomes solidified. Using a plate, flip the frittata over and cook the other side. Once completed, plate and cut into slices.
Spelt Pasta with Quick Garlic Tomato Sauce
3/4 cup dry spelt pasta
20 Grape tomatoes, soaked in warm water
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 leaves fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: In a medium pot, boil water and cook pasta according to instructions on box. In a food processor, blitz tomatoes, garlic and basil, then cook in a pan with olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Once pasta is cooked, drain the pasta and toss it in the skillet until fully coated with sauce. Then plate and enjoy! (Delicious with parmesan or romano cheese)
McKenney, Ryan and Bryce, Benjamin. “Creating the Canadian Mosaic”. Activehistory.ca, University of Saskatchewan and Huron University College, 16 May 2016. http://activehistory.ca/2016/05/creating-the-canadian-mosaic/. Accessed 30 October 2018.
“Review” goodfoodtoronto, Squarespace 2017. https://www.goodfoodtoronto.com/good-food-toronto/?offset=1489444945620&category=Review Accessed 30 October, 2018.
Tepper, Alex. “1-Ingredient Potato Frittata,” 2017. Found, Extra Crispy, 30 October 2018. https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/1-ingredient-potato-frittata
*I checked OWL Purdue for these citations, I hope they are correct.