The Garden Plot

Why Gastronomincal History is important

It is my opinion and often included in sociological assessments of various cultures: that food plays such a crucial role. One can learn so much about a group of people from what they eat/ate, and how they prepare food. Truthfully, I feel it is safe to say that a people’s culture is inherently tied to the contents of their plate. Traditional foods and food preparation practices, influence a culture as much as language and societal customs can.
What is the gastronomincal heritage in the area that you are from? Can you think of special items only your region of the world consume. What are unique preparation methods or tricks in your area? Also, how has immigration and globalization influenced the local heritage?
I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia, and Eastern Canada’s driving economic center. Located on the east coast of Canada, Halifax is the home of the Canadian Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. Also, nick named “the Gateway to Canada”, Halifax played an important role in Canadian immigration in the early to mid 20th century. Geographically, Halifax and Nova Scotia are peninsulas, surrounded by water on three sides–traditional fare is large guided by the ocean. From the cool North Atlantic on the southern shore, to the warmer tidal regions of Bay of Fundy; the Atlantic provides nourishment with fish, shellfish, vegetation and mollusks. On land we are feed by small game: rabbit, pheasants Quail….large game deer. Fruit: wild berries (blackberries, blue berries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries. Maple syrup and unique edible locally based vegetation. Of course we have the domesticated animals, our ancestors brought with them upon settlement 400 years ago.

Examples of Local Dishes
Fish Chowder
Boiled Dinner ( Fish or. Beef)
Blueberry Grunt
Apple Pie

Why I bring this up is because with the every increasing loss of home cooking….I feel our gastronomical heritage and heritage as a whole is on the verge of collapse. Daily, more and more convenience products are added to grocery store shelves that explicitly discourage people from cooking. Admittedly, some of these are actually good intentioned products. However, in my opinion most are aiding in the erosion of culinary tradition and knowledge. Thus, I urge everyone to start cooking from scratch. Talk to your parents, aunts, uncles, grand parents and great grand parents…ask them about cooking and items that were cooked when they were little. Find old community fund raising books, often they contain a wealth of culinary heritage!

Finally, in the comments I would like everyone to tell me about local, traditional dishes from their region!