Mrs. Wheelbarrow of Charcutepalooza fame has just posted the August challenge and it is all about binding and terrines. I gave up the Charcuterie part of her year long challenge only because my failures were catching up with me and my bank account. Today though, together with the mood I am in, I wrote her the following comment:
I wish, I just wish you could come to Quebec and take a ride with me down through the small towns we always pass when we decide to go apple picking or even on our way out to the New York State border. It is from these roadside stands that grand-pere ou grand-maman ou tante Lise sell their terrines and their tourtieres all made in their kitchens off the farms. I have lived and loved, was schooled and had children here and never before have I felt such a close bond with Quebec and its history as I have since you began this adventure. For me, it has brought the French-English strife to its very core and why the French are so afraid of losing their identity. It is unfortunate that for the most part, French farmers are not cognizant that the rest of the world in fact has their own history dug deep in their traditions so like those of Quebec.
It’s not new to us who have spent a lifetime living in Montreal to know what a terrine is or how we could not wait for the weekends in Winter for the trek to the ‘mountains’ to ski. You are not a Quebecer or to put it more precise, a Montrealer, if you never either en route but usually after a day of skiing to make our way to the tiny restaurants off the highway and the 15 to eat at Au Petit Poucet or the hot dog stands where Poutines originated. Crepe Bretonne, Pecan Pie and tourtieres (merci Chef Bernard) et terrines were all a part of not just Quebec history but the history of all of us born and raised in Montreal and not necessarily of French origin.
Anyone who know the history of this province and its cities knows that English and French has been a struggle short of a civil war and that in its quest for supremacy the Quebec political parties have ricocheted us back in time to when countries knew not of one another nor of their existence: time before the internet. I won’t consider going all Political in this post, except to say that in its urgency to get political prowess, Quebec has put themselves in a humorous position with regards to how English is to be used here and how it is to be regulated.
It is these people, of my generation and a decade older, who will not get to read Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s column because they will only read French blogs and those with regards to food are few. They watch French cooking shows to promote their culture and even other cultures and what they don’t understand, especially if they get to read the above mentioned post, is that Quebec and its culture is not unique to itself. What we are most proud of is that the rest of the world does cook the way we do: the only difference is that we do it better because we have been doing it since Samuel de Champlain was a child.
However, the young Quebecers; those who will be the next political generation are not afraid of losing their heritage which is an impossibility since Quebec has a definite place in the world with its food and its history and more importantly its Foie Gras and Martin Picard.
Quebec will always be French and has always been French – I only wish the Parti Quebecois could have had intimate discussions with our neighbors, before they mandated any Legislation, to realize that fact. We don’t need a ruler and a tape measure to know that. (this phrase is very familiar to all of us who live and love and work in Quebec even if it makes no sense to anyone else it apparently made sense to the Parti Quebecois. Yeah, sue me. Get in Line first please.)
I encourage all my readers to read the post that describes how to make a Terrine and then they will feel as proud as I do, that I live and love and eat in Quebec.
Cathy, I don’t have the reader numbers that you have but for this post, I hope it gets all the way to Parliament Hill, Quebec City, Quebec so they can know that we all treasure our heritage in all our own ways and that in many ways Quebec Charcuterie definitely has its own identity and one to be proud of. Thanks for this timely post for the month of August.