The Food of our Forefathers

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There’s a new trend in town that hits especially close to home. Canadians everywhere are putting down their sneakers and picking up a pair of boots, looking back to West Coast pioneers for style inspiration. (Plaid shirts, anyone?)

What we’re doing in fashion, we’re doing in food. Walk through any one of Vancouver’s stylish neighbourhoods and you’ll find restaurants serving up throwback Canadian cuisine.

Think roasted red wine bone marrow served with aged white cheddar mash; Yukon gold poutine topped with house-made brisket; and pork jowl with bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.

But where did these dishes all come from? And why now?

When settlers first arrived in Canada, it was a frozen tundra. Yup, it’s true. There was nothing here but wilderness. Apparently, carving a country out of freezing nothingness is really hard work.

According to the historical book From Milltown, to Metropolis,  a hotelier way-back-when invented the Lumberjack’s Breakfast for his customers who were demanding a “better feed.”

If you haven’t had “The Lumby,” then you’re missing out. Three eggs (at least), ham, bacon, sausages and pancakes are sure to fill you.

And that’s just it. Our ancestors were building railroads with minimal technology, chopping down trees with axes and fighting bears in the woods with their bare hands. Of course they needed heavy meats and starches that were topped with a demi-glace!

Not only are the classics even more delicious this time around, but today’s chefs know how to be kind to the environment. There’s something about eating, buying and growing local that Vancouver loves. Why not? It’s better for the planet, it’s healthier and it helps small businesses.

Plus, people go crazy when they see organic, free-range, local, or Ocean Wise stamped on anything. (For those of you who don`t know, Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium initiative that promotes restaurants’ use of sustainable seafood.)

Vancouver’s eager young chefs understand their city. By combining local products into dishes inspired by our forefathers, they have achieved a happy medium.

If you’re in Kitsilano, check out The Oakwood Canadian Bistro and their Beef Brisket Poutine. In Gastown, stop by Wildebeest and try their terrific Pork Jowl, and if you’re in Yaletown, The Flying Pig Eatery serves Red Wine and Braised Beef Shortribs that would satisfy any backwoods explorer.