Thank you for all of your very kind words and for thinking about me. It truly means a great deal to me. I wish you all chocolate-coated love, delivered by nude firemen/showgirls (delete as appropriate or feel free to add your own).
I've been thinking about home a lot lately because of my grandpa, having just read another Kathy Reichs book, and preparing for our Canada Day festivities. Celebrating Canada Day is slightly tongue in cheek (we're not renowned for being overly patriotic), but it is important to me that Jack learns about his Canadian roots, even at this early age. Starting, of course, with an introduction to Canadian beer. I managed to get my hands on some beer via a company based in Norfolk. The only Canadian "beer" you can usually find here is Labatt Ice (ewwwwwwww) and Moosehead (slightly less ewwwwww but still not very imaginative). Although the selection was very limited, I got some Sleeman's honey brown ale, and two from Quebec: La Fin du Monde, and Maudite. It pains me to think how much this cost in Canadian dollars (I'll give you an idea: one bottle of Sleeman's was £0.99/$2.25 CDN), but it warms the cockles of my heart to see bilingual labelling and a little glass-embossed beaver on each bottle.
My friend Ruth and I were discussing Canadian food, and I always get stumped by this. Quebec has its tourtiere, pea soup, poutine, tarte au sucre, beaver tails (not real ones, stop giggling), and other such goodies, but do any other provinces have dishes they can call their own (the only thing that springs to mind are Nanaimo bars)? When we say "Canadian food" here, people think maple syrup and pancakes with bacon. Unfortunately, we are so saturated by American culture that we don't have a lot of our own, from a culinary perspective - Kraft Dinner excluded. I grew up eating burgers, hot dogs, and pizza, and going to American chain restaurants like Red Lobster. My childhood food experience was unique thanks to the Japanese side of my family including things like sushi and green tea in traditional holiday meals, but on the most part, we ate "American" food. Maybe that's what defines Canadian food - taking dishes from various cultures and incorporating them into our "traditional" meals. So many of us come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and being a new country in the relative scheme of things, maybe that's why we haven't established many traditional dishes that are uniquely Canadian.
And so, for our barbecue, I shall present my English/Kiwi/Irish/Welsh/Italian friends with beer and maple syrup poured on something (haven't decided what yet) and we shall wave little flags around and say "eh?" all day long. Half of us will speak French (and those speaking English will have to do so at half the volume) and perhaps we will hold a referendum if things get dull (we can vote on whether or not London should be sawn off and relocated down the Thames). We can play road hockey out front, which is ideal as we live on a cul de sac. It'll be lots of very polite and orderly fun!*
*(Note to those coming over on Saturday: I'm joking about the events/activities listed here. Don't worry; we'll likely just burn something to a crisp, get a sunburn, drink too much, and I'll endure endless jokes about Celine Dion and beavers.)