Salt Spring Island Garlic Scape Goat Cheese

Living in France for the past three years, I have often been asked to describe traditional Canadian cooking and I have just as often been stumped. Understanding how intertwined French culture is with food, I can appreciate why people assume that this would be a fairly easy question to answer. But the reality of simplifying and defining Canadian food as a cut-and-dried thing is a bit more complicated, at least in my opinion.

To start, Canada is roughly 15 times the size of France. And although this affords us our spacious provinces and all their wonderful geographical diversity, it also means that many different types of foods take centre stage as local specialties. Also, rather than having one singular identity, our more commonly consumed foods tell a complex story of crossed cultures and colonialism. Add to that an even longer-standing traditional First Nations diet and perspective, and the story deepens further. Simply put, when it comes to food, all that can be confusing for building a singular cultural identity for our country.

What I do know is that, every time I come home, I am amazed at the many local movements I see growing around food, especially here on the west coast where I was born. The Vancouver urban farm movement, for example, is an inspiring one. Having recently spent a few days with family on Salt Spring Island, nothing speaks more to this than the delicious handmade goat milk cheeses being produced at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. This recipe combines one of their plain chèvres with a basic pesto that can be adapted to suit whatever fresh herbs, seeds or nuts you happen to have on hand. Simply served with crackers, or generously spread on a burger bun, this would make an easy addition to any Canada Day celebration.