Nothing says summer in Canada like a road trip. BC-based friends Dana VanVeller and Lindsay Anderson embarked on the ultimate road trip several summers ago, logging 34,000 kilometres, as they ate and drove through every province and territory. Aside from a lifetime of memories, they also collected great photos, stories and over a hundred recipes which they’ve compiled into an immensely readable book called Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip.
What did you learn about yourselves and each other on the Feast journey?
Lindsay: I learned that I love highway driving – the thrill of the open road, great music, going somewhere new and not having everything completely planned. Although I knew Dana well, this road trip highlighted that she is one of the funniest people I know – we were together for 24 hours/day for 5 months and were still laughing really hard at the end of the trip.
Dana: I realized I had really good problem solving skills – things would fall through and we’d have to make new plans. That can be stressful but also super satisfying when you figure it out. I also learned that Lindsay has so much more energy – she can just keep going and going and going – we were so productive on the road because of her.
Can you name a few unanticipated experiences on the trip that you really enjoyed?
Dana: One of the coolest things was in New Brunswick. We connected with the superintendent of Kouchibouguac National Park. She said, “Come see the park; it’s beautiful. But what I think you’ll really benefit from is an Acadian cooking lesson from my mother.” It was absolutely amazing.
Lindsay: Through a friend of a friend we met cookbook author Michele Genest in Yukon. She and her husband Hector took us on a foraging hike in Dawson City and introduced us to this amazing farm only accessible by canoe, with a genius farmer doing everything totally off the grid.
Are there any places you’d hoped to visit but couldn’t make it to?
The country is so big we just couldn’t go everywhere. We would have loved to make it to Yellowknife. We also didn’t get to Iqaluit but made it to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and Churchill, Manitoba instead which were both fantastic spots to visit.
What were some of the food discoveries that were the most memorable and why do they stand out?
Dana: In Churchill there was these famous apple fritters at Gypsy’s Bakery and Restaurant. I can think of almost no better setting for consuming fresh donuts than in a super cold, super sunny place. I also loved discovering tomato wine in Charlevoix, Quebec. We didn’t even know it existed and it was great.
Lindsay: We hadn't heard of haskaps till we met John, the off-grid Yukon farmer. Then we started seeing them elsewhere in Albert and Saskatchewan. Also a fun classic experience for me was tasting cod cheeks and tongue for the first time – they were delicious!
Now that you’ve eaten your way across the country, what have you learned about Canada’s culinary identity?
Lindsay: Canada really has a culinary mosaic and that’s worth celebrating. We don’t need to search for a national cuisine because we have so many wonderful regional cuisines instead.
Dana: Immigration has hugely affected it; in each area it depends upon who settled first and who came later, as well as the impact of contact with First Nations. You can easily see the local influences in terms of how the cuisines have merged, what’s growing there and what you can fish, hunt and forage for. Even if you brought recipes from your own country, dishes become new once you make them here with local ingredients.
Do you have a favourite recipe in the book?
Dana: Wild mushroom toast. It’s so simple yet also impressive, beautiful and really tasty.
Lindsay: Lunar rhubarb cake from Elizabeth Baird. There’s a great story behind it and it’s so delicious.
Now that the book is published, would you want to write another one?
Maybe. We don’t know exactly what we’ll do next, but there are definitely more road trips in us.
To learn more about the book including where to purchase, visit edibleroadtrip.com.