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A Little Cheez

By - August 28, 2006 (Updated: November 28, 2014)


I’ve written frequently about the food in Belgium: the abundance of fresh produce, the heavenly bakeries on every corner and the restaurants that can transport your taste buds around the globe. Sometimes however, what I really want is a taste of home.

Canadians have a hard time defining a national cuisine. Besides maple syrup, there aren’t too many foods that stand out as uniquely Canadian (contrary to what you may have heard, most Canadians don’t eat moose, bear or as Paul and Linda would have you believe, seal meat).

Despite the lack of ‘Canadian foods’ to miss, there are definitely a few things that tastefully transport me back home in a bite.

Although I do the majority of our household’s cooking, Andrew has couple of specialities that I call on when I need a taste of home.

The first is a truly Nova Scotian delicacy — Cedar Planked Salmon. As the name suggests, the salmon is cooked on a cedar plank on the BBQ and as the plank smokes it transfers some of the lovely cedar flavour to the fish. Andrew has mastered this technique and if I close my eyes while savouring the salmon, I can almost hear the crash of the Atlantic Ocean on the rocky Nova Scotia coast.

Andrew’s second cooking triumph is not so much a Canadian memory, but a personal one. He has mastered the art of biscuit baking (that’s scones to you Brits, not cookies). Biscuits take me right back to my grandparents’ kitchen. My Grandfather and I would eat them as a before bed snack. They were hot and buttered and had one very special topping — Cheez Whiz.

I know, I know — if the world blows up tomorrow, there will be five cockroaches and a whole lot of Cheez Whiz remaining. Honestly, you have to love a food that is spelled wrong for legal reasons.

Moving to Europe has reformed my eating habits in many ways: I shun fast food and soda, I can’t even think about eating North American factory bread and microwave dinners are out of the question (especially since I don’t even own a microwave anymore). However, moving to Europe also caused me to backslide to two ‘foods’ that I had sworn off of years ago in Canada: the aforementioned Cheez Whiz in all of its chemical laden glory and the favourite food of North American children everywhere — Kraft Diner.

That’s right; KD is my deep dark secret no longer. Although I kicked the habit ages ago, the fact that I can’t buy it in Belgium makes it that much more special. I dream of that neon orange powder that they call cheese. I force every overseas visitor to bring boxes with them, which I then ration carefully.

Although, try as I might, I just can’t recreate my mom’s potato salad (the first thing I request on visits to Canada), I can feel closer to home through food.
When I’m missing home or just having a bad day, I reach to the back of the cupboard and extract a box of KD or a jar of Cheez Whiz. I savour the imitation cheesy goodness and somehow everything seems a little brighter (orange).

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