What does a Canadian bring to an International Potluck?

Mike and I have been to two International-themed potlucks since the New Year. I am always relieved when the concept is “choose a cuisine and make something” rather than bringing a dish from your own culture’s cuisine. Mike and I love to cook dishes from other cultures, and made baked char siu bao (chinese BBQ pork buns) from scratch, and the Edmonds-take on schnitzel (pork and chicken, with breading seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian spice mix) for the most recent potlucks we’ve attended. However, when the request is “a Canadian dinner”, what does one cook?

Last May, for instance, while I was visiting the Geophysical Laboratory, the boarding house where I was staying had an approximately weekly group dinner where the cook made something from their homeland. After lots of deliberation I settled on an iron-chef style meal themed around maple syrup. After all, I find non-Canadians rather surprised at the volumes in which we consume the stuff!

I made baked salmon with a maple syrup glaze served with green beans and a mix of white and wild rice on the side, and maple tarts topped with raspberries for dessert. I briefly considered maple carrots as a side dish (my favourite vegetable as a kid), but decided it might be maple-overload for those unfamiliar with maple syrup applied to foods other than pancakes. The meal was a hit, if I do say so myself! Everyone was surprised I used maple syrup to make savory food, but enjoyed the salmon, and requested instructions on making the maple custard in the tart. But enough patting myself on the back. I wonder, what other dishes might be a good choice for the next time I find myself representing my country? And do people from other places have this trouble too?

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