Burt Wolf's Table: Halifax - #222

BURT WOLF:   Halifax ... on the east coast of Canada.  Surrounded by clear clean waters that produce some of the world's finest seafood.  It's the place to look at the magnificent, natural charm of North America.  To learn how to take the meat out of a lobster...  Cook up some great tasting and easy recipes...  And find out what politicians and crabs have in common.  So join me in Halifax at Burt Wolf's Table.

The first Europeans to see the coast of Nova Scotia were probably the Vikings who stopped by during the eleventh century.  But they were just visiting.  The first fellow to drop in with the idea of claiming the land for a European king or queen was the explorer John Cabot, who arrived here from England in 1497. 

They used Cabot's voyages as the basis of their claim of discovery.  They believed that the area was destined to become New Scotland, in the same way that they believed the shores to the south were destined to become New England. 

And so in 1749 Colonel Edward Cornwallis showed up here with 2,500 British Colonists, and they proceeded to build a classic replica of an English town.  They called in Halifax.

He built it on the world's second largest natural harbor ... the British being ever-intent on ruling the waves.  And he reproduced everything he could to remind him of jolly old England ... including the food.  Roasts, puddings, biscuits, double-crusted fruit pies, and an elegant tea service that is still in fashion.

Every day the mayor of Halifax has an open tea.  All of the citizens are invited in the hope that they will come and speak their mind.

The town itself and the surrounding countryside with its coastal villages presents some of the most beautiful parts of North America's east coast.  Bill Goddard is a native of Halifax and a pilot with Cougar Copters. 

BILL GODDARD:   When the first explorers came to Halifax from the sea, this is what they saw ... it's a fabulous coast ... that strip of land down there is called McNab's Island.  It looks beautiful now ... but in the old days ... if they caught a deserter from the British Navy they'd hang him from the gallows right there on the shore.  As the other British ships would come in they'd see the deserter hanging there ... it was like a stop sign that said “don't desert here.”

BURT WOLF:   Um ... that's a pretty effective sign I bet.  (LAUGHS)

BILL GODDARD:   The sea is central to the story of Halifax ... that's the world's largest natural harbor ... and it's ice-free all year ... the only one that's bigger is in Australia.  That's Peggy's Cove ... it's a fishing village that sits right on the granite rocks ... it looks just the way it always has.  They say it's the most photographed fishing village in the world.

You know, Captain Kidd buried his treasure around here ...


BILL GODDARD:   There are a number of groups trying to figure out how to find it.  This was a big area for pirates.

BURT WOLF:   Sure, they must have loved it.  After a tough season of sinking ships and stealing treasures and looting and killing ... you know, there's a lot of pressure to being a pirate ... it must have been really nice to come up here and mellow out ... and relax in a seaside village.

But it looks like most of your visitors are families just relaxing or couples taking time off.

BILL GODDARD:   True.  Or lovers of good food -- like you.

BURT WOLF:   I'm definitely a food lover in terms of eating.  But I'm even more interested in food folklore and history.  And as I look at Nova Scotia's past ... I see a very strong New England influence.

The original French settlers to arrive in Nova Scotia called themselves Acadians ... after an ancient Greek word that meant “dwellers in the land of innocence.”  They had been the first European colonists in the area ... but by 1755 they were living on territory controlled by the British.  And there were ten thousand Acadians.

Now, that made the British nervous.  They were afraid that the Acadians were going to side with the French in the constant Anglo-French wars of the period.  And so the British troops gathered up all of the the Acadian families and forced them out of Nova Scotia. 

They scattered them all over North America ... some as far south as New Orleans.  As a matter of fact, the people in the New Orleans area who are known as cajuns are actually the descendents of the Acadians who were forced out of this area.  And the British took the farms that belonged to the Acadians, which just happened to be on the best farm land in the area, and sold them to loyal British subjects in New England.

That influx of New Englanders became even greater during the American Revolution, when thirty thousand people loyal to the king of England moved up here. 

At one point in time there were so many people from New England in Nova Scotia that they represented two-thirds of the local population.  And they gave the cooking of the area a distinctly American colonial flavor.

There are recipes all over Nova Scotia that clearly come from kitchens of eighteenth century Virginia and the Carolinas.

The local hearts are definitely Canadian.  But part of the local stomachs came up from down South.

The town of Halifax has a number of restaurants along the waterfront that have become well-known for their seafood cookery.  Perhaps the most famous is called The Upper Deck.  The chef is Chris Profit.  And one of his signature dishes is called Upper Deck Lobster.

Chris starts the dish by removing the meat from a lobster that was cooked by boiling.

CHRIS PROFIT:   Son of a gun ... put him up on his head with his legs ... like hold it back.

WOLF:   Um-hmm.

CHRIS PROFIT:   Off come his legs.  Take his tail ... just twist it from the body ... set that guy aside ... this is gonna push down cause you're gonna ... (CRACKING SOUNDS) ... crack on one side ... cracked on the center on the other side.  That's the tail.  Now, on the claws ... just push down and snap ... and off come the joints.  One, two.  This is like a pump.  Pull 'er out ... off she goes ... same action ... pumpin' up the jam ... out comes the click ... turn her over so the claws down ... line up her ... crack it open and out comes your claw.  And that's the lobster out of the shell.

BURT WOLF:   Then he crushes two tablespoons of black pepper into small pieces ... using the bottom of one of his sauce pans.  A little tarragon ... the black pepper ... the lobster meat ... and a splash of white wine cooked together in a sauce pan for a few minutes.  Cooked pasta is added.  A third of a cup of cream.  Three minutes of high heat to thicken the sauce, and it's ready to serve.

Until recently lobsters were so plentiful that all you had to do was walk along the beach and pick them up.  A British visitor to Nova Scotia in the mid-1800s wrote a letter back home to London describing the fact that there were so many lobsters all over the beaches of this area that farmers were picking them up by the thousands and using them as fertilizer.  Hm-um.  Boy, how times have changed.

It as the introduction of high-speed transportation that gave fresh lobster a much bigger audience ... and increased both its popularity ... and unfortunately its price.

It's important, however, that lobsters be alive when they're cooked.  As soon as a lobster dies ... its uncooked flesh begins to attract the bacteria that can be very dangerous.  Lobsters should be moving about when you start the cooking process.  The restaurant lobster tank is a really great idea.

Nutritionally, lobsters are a good source of low-fat protein ... they contain some calcium ... and much less cholesterol then we used to think.  Good stuff!

An American statesman named John Hay once pointed out that he believed politicians were very similar to crabs.  They both seem to be coming when they're actually going ... and seem to be going when they're actually coming.

There are over four thousand different species of crab ... and the one thing they all have in common is that they are all edible.  North America's fortunate in having more different types of crab than anywhere else in the world ... and we respond to that bit of good luck by making crab our second most popular shellfish.  The only shellfish that we eat more of is shrimp.

Most of the crab that we get at home is pre-cooked and pre-cleaned.  But it always isn't as pre-cleaned as we'd like it to be.  It's a good idea to sift through your pre-cooked crab meat ... and make sure that all of the bits of shell are out of it before you start using it in a recipe.

If you're going to buy live crab in your supermarket ... always pick out the ones that are more active.  And the heavier the crab the better.  Make sure the claws are bound and can't grab at you.  And remember, crabs are cannibals and will eat each other ... so don't leave two of them alone in the same place. 

And like lobster, crab must be cooked while it is still alive in order to be safe to eat.

The waters of Nova Scotia produce an enormous amount of seafood.  The vast majority comes from the clear, clean seas ... just the way Mother Nature set things up.  There's also a farm- raised source.  British farms have been around for thousands of years ... and the people of Nova Scotia put them to good use. And so do the local cooks.

Alan Johnson is the executive chef at the Upper Deck Restaurant in Halifax.  Today he's using the local seafood to make a chowder.  A little butter goes into a saucepan ... followed by chopped celery, chopped onions, and chopped pre-cooked bacon.  That's cooked together for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, stock is heated and used to cook some haddock, baby shrimp and baby clams.  A little flour goes into the vegetable mixture to absorb the butter.  That's cooked for a moment ... then the fish-cooking liquid is added to the vegetables and whisked in.  Three cooked potatoes go in ... the fish goes in ... some parsley ... white pepper ... paprika ... and cayenne.  That's it!


By the middle of the 1700s, it was apparent that France and England were about to go into a final contest for the posession of North America.  In preparation for this military conflict, the British founded the city of Halifax, and the Halifax Citadel was constructed on a hill overlooking the town.

It was built in four stages.  The first one was constructed as a defense against the French and the local native tribes.  The second one was set up to defend against the troops and the American Revolution.  The third one was actually installed in the fear that the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte might show up in the New World.  And the fourth one was once again to defend against American troops who might come up here during the war of 1812.

My favorite piece of equipment at the Halifax Citadel is this stove which would sit out on the ramparts next to the cannons.  A convenient little hot plate for preparing a quick cup of tea?  Not quite.  That stove was used to heat a cannonball until it was red hot.  And the hot ball would be fired at a wooden target.  The heat of the ball would set the target on fire.  It was perfect for a ship.  The wooden decks ... the sails ... the masts... they'd burst into flame.

The heated cannonball was called a Hotshot.  And that's where we got the word “hotshot” from.

In 1794 England's Prince Edward was installed as Commander of the Halifax Citadel in Nova Scotia.  By far, his most important military project was the improvement of the Citadel's defenses. 

In order to get the job done, they imported a group of workers from the British colony of Jamaican in the Caribbean.  They were known as the Maroons.  When Canadian historians think about the Maroons, they think about a group of people with such extraordinary strength that they could move these huge stones and construct the Citadel. 

When I think about the Maroons I think about an even more important achievement.  An achievement which is still affecting tens of thousands of people in the United States of America.

When the British arrived in Jamaica, they were greeted by the guns of the Maroons.  Slaves that had escaped from the Spanish.  The Maroons were fabulous fighters ... and no one has ever been able to fully subdue them.

Between battles with the British the Maroons would hunt for wild pig.  When they caught one they would cook some of it right away ... but preserve the remainder in a mixture of very hot peppers wrapped in a banana leaf.  Next time there was a break in the battle ... they'd take some out and cook it over some hot coals. 

The result of this technique is something called jerk pork... rapidly becoming one of the most popular foods in North America.  And we owe it all to the Maroons.

The Maroons were not the only non-British group that the British put to work in order to develop their North American colonies.  The British liked to do the concept ... and have someone else do the work.

Accordingly, it was an English nobleman named George Dunk who drew up the plans for the British settlement of Nova Scotia in the mid-1700s.  Thankfully, his name was not used for the city.  Instead, they chose his title:  Lord Halifax.

But the British subjects who colonized the area were not very good at farming and so they sent word back to the King of England and asked him to ship over some German farmers who had a reputation for doing things right agriculturally.  As a result ... during the 1750's a couple of hundred German farmers moved to Nova Scotia and settled down in an area ... just south of Halifax known as Lunenberg.

The Germans proved to be excellent farmers and equally good ship builders.  During the days of sail, Lunenberg was famous as the village of wooden ships and iron men.  Today, Lunenberg is one of the most picturesque seaside towns in North America.  Still carrying on its nautical traditions ... looking much as it has for the past two hundred years ... and cooking with a distinctly German accent.

Potato salads, herring dishes, sauerkraut ... and rye breads.  The rye breads come with a local superstition.  A Lunenberg baker would never turn a rye bread over.  They feel that it would temp fate to capsize a ship at sea.  And ... uh . that's not so good for the bread either.

Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.  It's the ancestral home of the Native American Micmac tribe ... the original French colony in North America ... a major colonial outpost for the English ... and a welcome residence for tens of thousands of immigrants from the United States.  And  a joyous haven for Germans who escaped world poverty to come here in the mid-1700s.

The only group that had a consistently terrible time coming to New Scotland were the Scots.  They were forced to come here in the middle of the 1800s when the clan system in Scotland just collapsed.  They were poor ... they were uneducated... and they had a really difficult time adjusting to the New World.

But with traditional Scottish determination and frugality ... they managed to hang on, and eventually they brought their traditional foods to the area.

Their beloved oats took hold in the soil ... mills were built ... and before long, oatmeal ... oat cakes ... oat breads ... and any other oat-based recipe that you could think of became part of the cooking of Nova Scotia. 

The Scottish are well known for their open hospitality ... and that affects the kinds of recipes they like to use.  Particularly true when it comes to baking.   They like to use quick cakes and quick breads that are made with baking soda.

I once spent some time with a famous Scottish cook who said that she would only do cakes and recipes that could be prepared in the time that it took someone to come up her driveway and sit down in the living room.  And she didn't even have a very long driveway.

I came through the door ... the cake went into the oven ... and fifteen minutes later we sat down to tea.  Scottish hospitality.

The Silver Spoon Restaurant in Halifax is famous for its warm and hospitable atmosphere.  It's owned by Deanna Silver ... who was forced into the restaurant business because her friends loved her baking.  A good example is her blueberry oatmeal muffins.

A cup of oatmeal goes into a bowl, plus a cup of hot water.  Zest of an orange and a cup of orange juice.  A little vegetable oil is sprayed into a muffin tin ... then paper cups go in.  Five ounces of butter or margarine go into an electric mixer and are creamed together with one cup of brown sugar.  Four eggs are added.  And the oatmeal / juice mixture. 

The dry ingredients are mixed together.  Two and a half cups of flour ... two teaspoons of baking soda ... two teaspoons of baking powder ... and tablespoon of salt . .two tablespoons of vanilla extract.  The dry ingredients go in ... two cups of blueberries ... everything is gently mixed together ... and spooned out into the muffin tin.  That bakes at 350 degree for twenty-five minutes and the muffins are ready.

Oats are the berries of a cultivated grass that is native to Central Europe.  They've been grown by European farmers since about 1500 B.C.  Oats grow best in cool wet climates like England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  In Scotland, oats are the staff of life.  Scottish cooks will take oats and put them into cookies and cakes and breads and stuffings and just about anything else they can think of.

I knew a Scottish cook who would toast oats and put it on her children's ice cream.  The madness for oats in North America got started a number of years ago when a study at Northwestern University outside of Chicago indicated that two ounces of oats or oat bran each day would reduce your cholesterol.  It's actually the soluble fiber in the oats that does the job.  It turns into a gel as it passes through your body and reduces your cholesterol.

Two cups of breakfast style oatmeal ... or two medium-sized oat muffins contain the two ounces of oat fiber that you need.

But remember, if you're getting your oat bran in the form of oat muffins ... you want oat muffins that are made with a low level of saturated fat.  Saturated fat can increase the cholesterol in your body and cancel out the effect of the oat bran.  Oat bran only works as part of a low saturated fat diet.

Halifax was founded by the English in 1749. Shortly thereafter, a law was passed which forbade the immigration of Irish to the colony.  Nevertheless, within ten years, one out of every three people living in Halifax was of Irish ancestry.

By the end of the 1700's, virtually all of the anti-Irish legislation had disappeared.  As a matter of fact, British royalty was attending the local St. Patrick's Day celebrations.  On August 31st, 1843 the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was erected in one day.  Two thousand parishioners showed up and built the entire structure by dinner time. 

Today, ten percent of Nova Scotia's citizens are of Irish ancestry and their foods are eaten throughout the community.  Besides the potatoes, corn beef and cabbage, soda bread ... and green colored St. Patrick's Day specialties ... the Irish were responsible for many of the really good beef and pork recipes.  And the idea of having porridge for breakfast, which is a really good idea.  Because breakfast is still our most important meal.

At the Compass Rose Inn in the town of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia ... Roger Pike and his wife Susanne have taken an old recipe from Susanne's Irish heritage ... and used it to give new meaning to the St. Patrick's Day idea of “the wearing of the green.”

It's an ice cream cake and it's quite frankly irresistible.  Start with a cup of oreo cookie crumbs ... add two tablespoons of melted margarine and mix the two together with a fork.  That mixture gets pressed into the bottom of springform pan to make a crust.  And in goes a quart of chocolate chip mint ice cream ... green of course.  That gets patted down to form a layer.  A little creme de menthe -- optional.  A second layer made from one quart of ice cream ... into the freezer for three hours.  When it comes out, run a knife along the inside edge ... remove the pan ... put your slices onto a plate ... and decorate the serving with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  Fabulous!  And that's no blarney!

The word “mint” comes from an ancient Greek legend about a nymph named Mintha.  She was kissing the god Pluto when Pluto's wife came in and discovered them.  Pluto's wife, by the way, was a goddess of considerable power in her own right ... and she was furious.  And so she crushed Mintha into the earth.

Pluto took pity on Mintha and saw that she survived in the sweet smell of the plant.  Elizabethans in England love this story ... and they planted mint along their garden paths.  As they walked along, their feet would crush the mint and perfume the area in which they walked.  That perfume, by the way, comes from a chemical called menthol which is found in the stems and leaves of the plant.

If I remember my menthol commercials properly, that meant that the Elizabethans had feet that were kissing sweet.

In 1970 ... the City of Halifax had a plan to demolish the old waterfront buildings here ... and construct an expressway.  What their plan didn't plan for were the walls of the building behind me.  That's the old Privateers’ Warehouse.  And the walls are over two feet thick.  The wrecker's ball ... it just bounced off them like they were a backboard at an NBA game. 

Instead, the citizens of Halifax constructed what is known as the Historic Properties.  It preserves the look and feel of the place as it was in the 1800's ... and seven of the oldest structures on the waterfront.  This was the city's commercial center during the 1800's.  Today, it's home to a maritime museum that tells  the story of this area's four hundred year old relationship to the sea.

There's a shopping area ... some excellent restaurants ... the dock for Bluenose II...  a replica of the most famous Grand Banks fishing vessel, and so powerful a symbol of Canada's relationship to the sea ... that you find a picture of it on the Canadian dime. 

They've also held on to the last remaining Korvette...  The H.M.C.S. Sackville.  It was this class of ship that escorted the supply convoys across the Atlantic during the Second World War.  And it tried to protect them from the German U-boats.


As part of preserving its past, the Historic Properties have included a town crier.

TOWN CRIER:   Oyez... oyez...

BURT WOLF:   The idea of a town crier has been around for well over a thousand years.  They were the original anchormen ... Brokaw, Rather, Jennings, Shaw ... the town criers were there first.  They gave people the news ... but most importantly, they warned everyone about impending dangers ... and with each new danger they altered their warning.

Peter Cox is the town crier for the city of Halifax ... and he is sending out the word on what Nova Scotia can tell us about the relationship of good food to good health.

TOWN CRIER:   Take heed up ... and listen.  Many small meals during the day ... especially for you ... than just two or three big ones.  Try and get more than half your daily calories from fresh fruits and vegetables ... grains ... and cereals.  Lobsters ... hm ... excellent low-fat protein with much less cholesterol than we once thought.  Soluble fibers from oat bran or any other source can help control cholesterol levels.  But remember ... there are no magic foods ... oats only do their job effectively when they are part of a proper balanced low-fat diet.


BURT WOLF:   That's all from Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and drink at Burt Wolf's Table.

Burt Wolf's Table: Across Canada, Via Rail Part 2 - #215

BURT WOLF:  Canada's Transcontinental Railway:  it passes through some of the world's most beautiful scenery.  And through Via Rail, it maintains the traditions of the Golden Age of passenger travel.  It's the place to take a look at the fascinating history of on-board food.  And to learn the recipes that have made the Via Rail chefs famous for the best Meal on a Wheel.  So join me on board Canada's Via Rail at Burt Wolf's Table.

BURT WOLF:  The Canadian is the name of the train that takes passengers across Canada from Toronto in the east to Vancouver in the west... or vice versa.

It passes through some of the most beautiful scenery on our planet.  Snow-covered mountains, unspoiled forests.  It's the kind of scenery that gives you a real appreciation of North America and it's amazing that it's still so easy to see.

During the past few years, Via Rail, which is directed by the Canadian Government, has made a great effort to bring back the good old days of railroad food. 


The earliest meals for train passengers were offered by track-side vendors.  The vendors would wait for the trains at the stations.  As soon as the train came in, they would sell the food to the passengers through the train windows.  Unfortunately, the coal-burning engines passed into the stations first and deposited a nice layer of soot on all the food just as it was about to be offered to the travelers.

Not very attractive, but perhaps an interesting source of additional nutrients.

The station vendor period was followed by the era of the “news butcher.”  The news butchers were characters who came on board the train and walked through the cars selling newspapers, magazines and food. 

Skilled practitioners of this craft always offered salted peanuts on their first pass.  That insured better beverage sales on their second. 

News butchers were still around during the early 1940s when I was making my first train trips.  My mother would send me to visit her sister in Boston.  She'd kind of plunk me down in the train seat and I would sit there until my aunt picked me up at Boston's Back Bay Station.

The news butchers would go through the train between stations and I even remember their pitch.  “Life, Look, Colliers, Reader's Digest, Fortune, Harper's Bazaar, Atlantic Monthly.  Candy bars, Hershey Bars, Almond Bars, Ju Ju's, Sandwiches, Coffee, Tea, Milk, what'll you have, kid?”

These cartoons show the next major development in the history of railroad meals.  It was the Eating House, built into the existing train station.

The train would come to a stop and the passengers would rush out to the eating area.  They would bolt down their food and bolt back onto the train.  The stop was scheduled for twenty minutes and was officially called a Meal Stop.  The passengers usually described it as an Indigestion Stop.

As railroad technology improved and trains began to cover more and more distance in shorter and shorter amounts of time, it became really impractical to stop three times a day for meals.  And so the first on-board food service was offered.

Very often it was just a buffet set up in the baggage car.

This is an old photograph of a Canadian National Train.  It was probably taken during the first years of this century.  The food and beverages were being served from a counter in the freight area.

Maybe it was an official service set up by the railroad company, or maybe it was a little free-lance operation undertaken by the train crews to earn a little extra money. 

There's actually a long history of entrepreneurial activities by those early train crews.  Very often, the restaurants that were set up first in the train stations were set up by the wives of the conductors.  The conductor would walk through the train, find out how many people wanted to have a meal at the next stop and then telegraph ahead to his wife and tell her how many people were coming to dinner.

In 1867, George Pullman introduced his hotel car.  It was the first car built specifically for cooking and serving meals while the train was in motion.

It changed the way both the railroad companies and the passengers thought about their meals.  Railroad dining cars became famous for top-quality food and service and they continued that tradition for almost 100 years. 

Having learned to offer their passengers a service that was basically a hotel and restaurant that moved, it was only logical that the railroads would get into the business of hotels and restaurants that didn't move.  The driving force behind this idea was a man named Cornelius Van Horne.  He was the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

He'd built a railroad through some of the most beautiful parts of our planet.  And he felt that if he could not export the scenery, the very least he could do was import the tourists.

And so the Canadian Pacific Railroad started to built resorts and hotels.  They also undertook an extensive communications program using artists to present Canada's natural beauty.  They wanted to show the country to potential visitors all over the world.  Paintings, posters, and eventually photographs and even films were commissioned by the company.

Directly across the street from the Toronto Train Station is the Royal York Hotel.  It was built in 1929 by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  At the time it opened, it was the largest hotel in the British empire.

It had 1,000 hotel rooms, a concert facility with 2,000 seats, its own small hospital, and a library with 12,000 books.  It also had a facility for demonstrating a new invention, the invention was called the “talking movie.”  Never worked.

Today the Royal York Hotel is an architectural signature for the City of Toronto.  It's surrounded by a cluster of bank towers that have risen in recent years, but its copper and limestone roof still stands out as the jewel in the city’s skyline.  The Royal York is a symbol of history.  It's been restored to its original grandeur on the surface, but it's also high-tech and up-to-date on the inside.  Different restaurants and bars offer an almost endless variety of culinary styles.

The lap-pool is as restful a place as you will find in a modern city.

The Royal York is a perfect example of the kind of hotel the Canadian Pacific built as it developed its non-moving facilities for travellers.

Crossing the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan marks the midpoint in the transcontinental trip.  Saskatchewan is the center of Canada's vast expansive prairies.  It's the breadbasket of the nation, with some of the largest grain farms in the world. 

Historians tells us that when the last great glaciers began to recede, about 12,000 BC, the weather warmed up and we began to see the appearance of giant wild wheat fields.  This was easy food for our ancestors and they began to gather it and make it an important part of their diet.  They have to be right next to wheat when it's ready to harvest, and so small settlements began to develop at the fringes of these giant wheatfields.  Over the next 4,000 years, little by little, we learned to control and cultivate the wild wheat until wheat became our first real agricultural crop.  And that was an amazing thing to have done. 

Raw wheat is difficult to swallow and indigestible.  We learned to separate the edible part of the grain from the surrounding husks and to germinate or cook the wheat until it was edible.  Wheat was the basis of the porridges that sustained life for thousands of years.  It evolved into the breads which are still described as the staff of life. 

These are the wheatfields of Saskatchewan and these fields actually owe their rich soil to the glaciers that once covered them.

When you're looking at a wheat field, you're actually looking at the very beginning of agricultural civilization.

Saskatchewan is also the official home of the Northwest Mounted Police, who brought stability to this area in the 1800s.  That was followed by the arrival of the railroad, which resulted in a major immigration of Russian and Scandinavian colonists. 

On the second day of the trip I woke up in a Saskatchewan town called Bigger.  There was a wonderful sign on the train station; it said “New York is Big, But This Is Bigger.” 

Saskatchewan is also the place where Canada saw its last armed conflict.  There were a group of people who were the descendants of fur trappers and native Americans and they were having an ongoing dispute with the federal government.  In 1885, it broke out into an armed rebellion.  It was quickly put down because the railroads were able to get 3,000 troops to the place almost instantly.  The people loved the railroads, the government loved the railroads.  It gave the government an excuse to help with the politics and economics of the railroad expansion, and everybody thought of the railroads as essential to the defense of the nation.

These days, the people of Saskatchewan are dedicated to the defensive nature and when you get up to the northern part of the province, it's time to give them a gold star.  Especially if you enjoy fishing in some of the world's most beautiful country. 

Serious fishermen fly in by seaplane and spend their days casting for northern pike, walleye, whitefish, grayling, and giant lakers.  Like Magic Johnson?  No.

Anyway, a guy I met on the train told me that the last time he was fishing in Saskatchewan, the fish were biting so often that he had to take his line out of the water so he could have a peaceful moment to drink a beer.  Is that a fish story or a beer story?

There's a special spirit to the rural areas of Saskatchewan.  Visitors are always welcome at county fairs, farmers' markets and town suppers.  It's a spirit that speaks of family and oneness with the land. 

Saskatchewan also attracts tourists who are interested in wildlife.  Now, it’s not the kind of wildlife you find in Paris, but as I get older, it’s the kind of wildlife I like the best.  Saskatchewan prides itself on places designed to give tourists a good look at nature. 

As Via Rail's Transcontinental trail rolls through Saskatchewan, it passes some of the best fishing areas in North America, a fact which is regularly honored by the chefs on board.  You'll often see local fish on the menu.  Today it's pickerel, which is being prepared with tomato and basil. 

Via Rail chef David Kissack starts by making the sauce.  A little oil goes into a frying pan, followed by some chopped onion, and a chopped tomato.  It sautees together for about a minute.  Then in goes a tablespoon of capers and some chopped fresh basil.  Finally, a little Pernod.  Pernod is an alcoholic beverage that's very famous in the south of France.  It's really like a flavored wine and the flavor is licorice or anise.  Just about every country on the Northern side of the Mediterranean Sea has an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage.  If you were in Greece it would be ouzo.  If you were in Italy it would be Sambuca.  It's really an easy way to add that licorice flavor to a recipe.

The sauce is kept warm while the fish is cooked.  A boneless, skinless fillet of white fish is given a light coating of flour.  A little vegetable oil goes into a hot frying pan and as soon as it's hot, in goes the fish.  The fish cooks on one side for a minute, then it's flipped, and cooks on the other side for a minute more.  Then onto a serving dish.  The sauce goes on top, a few sauteed baby carrots, a mixture of wild and white rice, a few green beans and it's ready to serve.  Lots of taste for very few calories.

Capers are the buds of an unopened flower that have been pickled.

They're picked from a bush that we think originated in North Africa but these days they're growing in all countries that border on the Mediterranean Sea.  And we are beginning to see capers grown in the southern part of the United States. 

As a general rule, the smaller the caper, the better the quality.  The best are the tiny nonpareils.  The larger capers are very tasty, but stronger in flavor.  It's usually a good idea to chop up the larger capers before you use them in a recipe. 

It's also possible to change the flavoring that's been put in the capers by the pickling process.  When you get the jar home, pour off the liquid and pour in something that you like the flavor.  I usually put in sherry wine.  The alcohol in the sherry acts as a natural preservative and I really prefer the mild flavor of the sherry to the intensity of the brine that capers are usually packed in.

After a few days in the refrigerator, the capers will be milder and you will also have flavored the sherry which you can then use as a flavoring agent all by itself.

It's nice added to salad dressings or into the pan when you're making a quick sauce from pan drippings.  Especially with fish and poultry.


BURT WOLF:  Alberta.  Oil and natural gas below, fertile farmland in the middle, and cowboy culture on the top.  Canada is a large country.  It's the second largest country in the world, right behind Russia.  And Alberta gives you the opportunity to get a look at the variety and natural beauty of the nation. 

Rugged foothills in the eastern slopes of the great Rocky Mountains.  Great beauty, but not an ideal place for agriculture.  However, it is ideal for cattle, and Alberta has more beef cattle ranches than any other province in Canada.  Those ranches have given Alberta its cowboys. 

Every year the Alberta town of Calgary hosts the Calgary Stampede, ten days of the wildest part of the wild west, including the world's largest rodeo.  The most popular event is a chuck wagon race with $200,000 in prizes.  Only fitting that the big money go to the cooks.

Alberta's also home to the Jasper National Park.  Unspoiled despite the more than 2 million visitors that come here every year.  Waterfalls, gorges, the jagged peaks. 


BURT WOLF:  Even more important than Jasper's natural beauty is its role as a wildlife sanctuary.  Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black bear and moose make Jasper their home.

Alberta is real cattle country.  You can see it in the land, you can see it in the culture and you can see it in the kitchens.  If you still want to know where's the beef, Alberta's a good place to look. 

And as Via Rail's Transcontinental passes through Alberta, it takes advantage of the area's great beef.

An example is this recipe from Medallions of Beef in a Tarragon Sauce.  Chef Kissack starts by heating a little oil and butter in a frying pan.  Then in go two medallions of beef, which are just thin slices cut from a tenderloin.  They cook for a minute on one side, and then a minute on the other.  David is using two spoons to turn the beef in order to be sure that he doesn't make any holes in the meat that would allow the juices to drain out.

As soon as the beef is cooked, it comes out of the pan and is held aside.  A little more oil goes into the same pan, plus a little chopped onion, chopped garlic, red wine, mustard, tarragon and beef stock.  Finally, a quarter cup of plain yogurt.  That cooks into a sauce that goes onto a serving plate.  Then the beef, some sauteed vegetables and some oven-browned potatoes. 

The herb tarragon seems to have originated in Asia and was brought to Eastern Europe by the invading Mongols, and it was the Crusaders who spread it out through western Europe.

The first time we actually see anybody writing about tarragon appears to be in the mid-1500s.  A botanist of the time wrote: “Tarragon is one of the most agreeable of salads, which requires neither salt nor vinegar for it possesses the taste of both these condiments.”  Good call.  Tarragon is actually an excellent replacement for salt, and anybody who is on a salt-restricted diet can use tarragon as a flavor enhancer. 

If you'd like to see what this stuff is really like, plant a few seeds of French tarragon in a window box.  When the leaves are ready to harvest, chop them up and add them to soups, sauces and salad dressings.  It's also an excellent addition to seafood and chicken recipes.

Most herbs have a stronger flavor in their dried form than when they are fresh.  Cooks usually use twice as much of the fresh herb in a recipe as they would if they were using the dried form. 

Tarragon is actually an exception to the rule.  When tarragon is dried, it loses much of the essential oils that contain its flavor.  So when you're substituting dried tarragon for fresh tarragon, use two or three times as much dried.


BURT WOLF:  British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province and with over 4300 miles of Pacific coastline, it is one of the most picturesque parts of North America. 

Hundreds of islands just offshore have made British Columbia a boater's dream come true.  Deep fjords cut into the land and offer protected areas for water sports.  Sailors, power boat lovers, and fishermen have all been attracted to British Columbia.  But the people of this province are good sports about almost everything.  When they're not on the water, they're in the mountains.

British Columbia is home to the Whistler and Blackcomb Ski Resorts, two of the most respected ski areas in the world.

Local instructors will start you off as soon as you can walk, and when you have mastered the art, local helicopter pilots will take you up to the most beautiful peaks so you come down through pristine snow.

At the base of the mountain is the Chateau Whistler Resort, managed in the great tradition by a division of the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

British Columbia's biggest city is Vancouver, with some of the best food in Canada.  Vancouver has a large Chinese section with dozens of excellent restaurants and food shops.

There's also a restaurant that offers the traditional food of the native tribes.  Good eaters should know about the Granville Island Public Market.  Every day small shopkeepers offer a wide selection of top-quality foods, from freshly-caught salmon to freshly-baked breads.

At the edge of the downtown district is Stanley Park, with a six-mile walk that presents some of the best views of the city and the surrounding waters.

One amazing thing about this park is that it is literally across the street from the city's commercial center.  There's also a neighborhood called Gastown, named after a fellow called Gassy Jack Deighton.  He was a local bartender with a real gift for gab.  Gassy's bar is gone but in its place are a series of charming streets lined with art, antique, and craft dealers.  They continue the tradition of gabbing, but the conversational content has been considerably upgraded.


BURT WOLF:  The oldest ongoing conversation in this area has been taking place for over 30,000 years and it's been between the Native tribes and their spirits.  As a result, British Columbia can offer the visitor a fascinating look into the culture of the first people to inhabit this part of the world.  If your timing is right, you might even get a chance to join them for a traditional salmon roast.


Since the time of the earliest human settlements in this area, the local waters have been the key to transportation.  During the last 100 years the canoe has given way to the famous B.C. Ferry service.  Their fleet is larger than most navies, and essential to the area's continued growth.

About an hour's ferry ride off the coast is Vancouver Island, home of the province's capital city of Victoria.  In the center of town is the Empress Hotel, which is like a time capsule from late 19th Century England.

Afternoon tea in the hotel has been a tradition since the building opened in 1908.  And each afternoon the restaurant serves a curry in remembrance of the days when India was part of the British empire.

But Vancouver Island, like the rest of British Columbia, is a major sports center.  Chartered fishing boats will take you out for salmon, hiking trails along the coast will invite you to a greater appreciation of nature, and the only bridge built specifically for bungy jumping will give you a chance to evaluate your sanity.

Why?  Why would you want to do this?  Aren't there enough ups and downs in life as it is?

One of the largest and most important ethnic groups in British Columbia are the Chinese.  They started arriving here in the mid-1800s as part of a work force to build the transcontinental railroad.  They stayed, expanded their numbers and became a vital part of the community, especially when it comes to food. 

They have a significant number of great restaurants and have influenced cooking through Canada. 

A perfect example is this dish of Beef and Broccoli prepared by George McNeill at the Royal York Hotel.  George starts by taking two cups of beef that have been cut into bite-size strips and mixing them together with two beaten egg whites.  And a dusting with a tablespoon of cornstarch.  A little oil goes into a hot wok, followed by a touch of sesame oil.  A few slices of fresh ginger, a half cup of chopped onion and the beef.  Interesting mixture of equipment.  A traditional Chinese wok with standard Western chef's tongs to do the stirring.  Some old habits just hang on.

A set of chef's tongs are like an extra hand.  And one that's heat-proof too.

Next, a little chicken stock.  Two cups of blanched broccoli flowerets, two tablespoons of oyster sauce, a few tablespoons of sesame seeds and it's ready to serve. 

A ceramic sculpture of a Chinese farmer goes on the place.  A truly optional ingredient.  Then some green onion made to look like leaves and flowers, carrots, and finally the beef.

George makes those carrot flowers by cutting a series of strips along the length of the carrot and then slicing the carrot into rounds.  Green onions are blanched for a moment in boiling water, then opened up flat and cut into leaves.


BURT WOLF:  The west coast of Canada is one of the most beautiful parts of our planet, and the native tribes have been here for thousands of years when the first Englishman showed up.  It was Captain Cook on yet another leg of his world tour of discovery.

The year was 1793 and ever since then, English culture has been in the neighborhood.  It is particularly evident in the daily afternoon service of English tea with scones.

Chef McNeill is Scottish and he can scone with the best of them.

What's the secret to making a great scone?

McNEILL:  The secret is to mix all the dry ingredients together before you add the liquids because the liquids will activate the proteins in the flour and that's what makes the scones tough.

BURT WOLF:  Gotcha.  He starts by mixing together four cups of all-purpose flour and a tablespoon of baking powder.  Then in goes a half cup of chopped walnuts, a half cup of raisins, and a half cup of apricots.  In a second bowl, a cup of milk is combined with one egg, a half cup of sugar, and a quarter cup of melted butter.  Both bowls of ingredients are mixed together to make a dough.  Baking soda and baking powder are chemically active ingredients that make dough rise.  The actual chemical activity starts when the powder or soda first comes in contact with moisture.  But you really want it to do its stuff while the dough is in the oven, so the trick is to shorten the time between the contact with the wet ingredients and the dough going into the oven.  The last-minute blending helps.  The dough is rolled out to a thickness of about an inch and cut into rounds.  The rounds go onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.  A quick paint job with an eggwash. 

A second tray goes underneath and that's important.  It spreads out the heat and prevents the bottom of the scones from burning.

Then in a 350 degree oven for fifteen minutes.  When they come out, they get a dusting of powdered sugar and they're ready for afternoon tea. 

Part of the increase in tea drinking is the result of a growing concern about caffeine and, of course, there's confusion.  Which has more caffeine?  Coffee or tea?  Well, here's where the confusion comes in.  If you take a pound of coffee and a pound of tea, there will be more caffeine in the pound of tea.  But that is only because you were measuring by weight.  Coffee is much heavier and there's much less of it in a pound. 

But when you go to make a cup of coffee, you use much more coffee than the amount of tea you use to make a cup of tea.  As a result, the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee is much more than in a cup of tea.

However, there is one thing you should bear in mind in connection with tea and good health.  Tea contains a substance called tannin.  Tannin tends to bind up with iron and prevent that iron from being absorbed by your body.  And iron's a very important nutrient.

Scientists who are studying the problem suggest that we limit our tea consumption to two or three cups a day and that we add milk to that tea.  Milk binds up with the tannin, and that leaves the iron free to be absorbed by your body.

Well, that's the end of the line on board Canada's Via Rail.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and drink at Burt Wolf's Table.

Burt Wolf's Table: Across Canada, Via Rail Part 1 - #214

BURT WOLF:  As the Via Rail trains of Canada travel from coast to coast, they give you a good look at the natural beauty of the second largest country in the world.  They also give you the opportunity to stop off and taste the foods that have become part of the nation's gastronomic history...  from the elegant influence of the French in Ontario, to the down-home meals of the Eastern Europeans in Manitoba.  So join me as we travel across Canada at Burt Wolf's Table.


In 1836, a tiny locomotive called the Dorchester hauled Canada's first train into the age of the railroads.  It was one of the most important events in the history of Canada.  At the time the movement of both passengers and freight was extremely difficult.  There was a great sense of isolation between many of the communities.

That sense of isolation was of enormous concern to a group of people who were trying to bring Canada together into one great nation, a nation that would stretch from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast.  As soon as the railroad pioneers got into business, it became apparent that the fastest way to build that nation was to connect everybody up with a coast-to-coast railroad.  Ah, but there was a problem.  In 1980, thousands of California gold miners had gone up to the western part of Canada to look for more gold.  The citizens there were in an area called British Columbia, and there was a real chance that that whole place was going to become part of the United States.  The Canadian government couldn't stand that, so they raced over to British Columbia and began to negotiate with the citizens there to join Canada.  And they said fine, but first you've got to connect us all up with a coast-to-coast railroad. 

The first contract for construction was signed in 1874.  Five thousand men and seventeen hundred teams of horses went to work.  The task was extremely difficult, especially in the mountains of the west.  Bridges had to be built over rivers that constantly changed their banks.  The road bed had to be blasted and chopped out of solid rock.  Getting supplies to the construction crews was a superhuman task.  The original funding proved to be insufficient and it looked like the company might fail.

And then a most unusual series of events came into play.  There were a group of people who were the descendents of French trappers and local natives who had had a longstanding dispute with the federal government.  In 1885, it broke out into armed conflict.  And it looked like it was going to get out of hand.  Until suddenly three thousand troops showed up right in the middle of the battle and put the rebellion to an end.  They were able to show up almost instantly because they came by railroad.  One result is that everybody who had anything to do with the railroad was suddenly a hero with the federal government.

That gave the government the popular support that it needed in order to help fund the railroad's construction.  On November 7, 1885, the last spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven home and regular train travel between Canada's east and west coast got underway. 

The railroads had received large grants of land from the federal government, which they could lease for sale to settlers.  The railroads quickly realized that the best way to market their land was to do everything they could to encourage immigration to Canada.  The great waves of immigrants that arrived on the shores of North America during the second half of the 1800's represented a major commercial opportunity for the railroads.  This is a photograph from the 1890's showing a train packed with men newly arrived from Europe and on their way to the west.  It shows Eastern Europeans in what was called a colonist's car.  The racks above the seats were sold as sleeping areas.

There was a coordinated program to keep the new arrivals together by ethnic group, make them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.  Then they would write back home and tell their relatives that everything was fine.  And more relatives would come over.  It became big business, it became good business and it met the government's objectives for greater and greater immigration.  Well, Canada is a huge country and from the beginning of its European colonization, it has been hungry for people.  And that makes perfectly good sense.  It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  It would be a shame if there was nobody here to see it. 


During the Second World War, there was an enormous increase in passenger train travel.  Gas rationing and troop movement sent the railroads into a period of great expansion.  After the war, the Canadian railways built a series of cars specifically designed for sightseeing.  Cars with considerable luxury were introduced and the golden years of Canadian railroading got underway.  And rolled on right up to the end of the 60's. 

By the 70's, however, most people were doing their traveling by plane and car.  Passenger traffic on trains had dropped off to a point where it was no longer economically feasible for the railroads to run the kind of passenger service that they had run in the past.  But passenger service was too important to the people of Canada.  And so the Canadian government stepped in and organized a company called Via Rail.  Via Rail's job was to bring back the "Golden Age" of passenger trains and they're doing a great job.

This is Via Rail's most dramatic train; it’s called the Canadian and it runs right across the country from Toronto to Vancouver.  The trip takes three days, and its quite an adventure.

My favorite part of the train is the last car; it’s called the Bullet Lounge.  Armchairs rest against the walls of the car and passengers sit around the room chatting and watching the fast- changing scenery through the panoramic windows.  The clocks are set to each of the country's time zones through which the train travels.  In the center of the Bullet Lounge is a staircase that leads up to the observation dome, an extraordinary spot for viewing the Canadian  landscape.  Can't think of a nicer seat for a traveler.

When you get on board the Canadian you are given a guide book that does an amazing job for you.  When the railroads were first built, they were divided into “railway division points.”  And that's not a standard measure, like a mile or a kilometer; it’s actually the distance that a steel locomotive could travel in one day at the time the particular line was built.  Now, within those division points are standard mile markers.  Mile marker zero is where the locomotive started its day and two or two-fifty would be where it ended its day.  As you travel along and you look out the window, you'll see the mile marker number; you check it in the book and it tells you where you are and the significance of the place outside.  It's like having a personal guide with you through the entire trip, but you only get the information you want and when you want it.  It's a good system.

There are five different types of accommodations.  The largest is the drawing room which has three beds; next is the bedroom which has two beds; and third is the roomette with a single bed.  Each of these has its own armchairs and washroom facilities.  The train also has something called an open-section berth.  The seats are a little more or less public during the day, and turn into closed sleeping areas at night.  Finally there are standard coach seats. 

I went across Canada in this car with my son James, three days and three nights.  James got the top bunk, I got the bottom bunk and he got there before me.  Oh, maybe just a little bit.  At first I thought it was going to be a little cramped, but it turned out to be much more roomy than I thought, or maybe James was just better company than I expected.

It's interesting to see how the sitting room turns into the sleeping room.


Now that is an efficient use of space.


And of course there is the dining car:  linen- covered tables, porcelain, silverware, fresh flowers and excellent service.  Via Rail is achieving considerable success in its effort to bring back the good old days of restaurant gastronomy. 


Transcontinental trains going from east to west start out from the city of Toronto.  Toronto is the largest city in Canada and a major business and cultural center.  The CN Tower, which is the world's tallest free-standing structure, dominates the skyline.  CN stands for Canadian National, which is one of the two great companies that built this nation's railways.  Toronto is one of the most livable cities in North America; relatively clean and safe with an excellent system of public transportation.  Toronto is also a city of extraordinary ethnicity.  The Huron tribes who lived here for thousands of years gave this area the name Toronto, which means “a place of meetings.”  And that is still a perfect description.  During the last hundred and fifty years dozens of different immigrant groups settled here and carved out their own neighborhoods, with Greeks, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Ukrainians, the Japanese and a large group from the Caribbean.  They have each held on to just enough of their history and customs to give the city a rich and complex pattern of traditions.  They've also given the city a marvelous selection of restaurants.  Toronto is a great place for food lovers.  This is Toronto's Union Station which was built in 1927.  It is the departure point for all transcontinental passengers heading west, and today that includes me. 

Within an hour after departure, he urban surroundings give way to the countryside of Ontario.  Ontario is a native word that means “shining waters.”  The Iroquois people who named the area were right on target, since Ontario contains one-fourth of the world's entire supply of fresh water.  The train constantly passes lakes, ponds, rivers and streams as it zips through the province.  Ontario is huge, larger than any country in Europe and any state in the U.S. except Alaska.  And in spite of the fact that it contains Canada's largest urban center, ninety percent of the province is still unspoiled forest.

The kitchens on Canada's Via Rail trains are not the easiest kitchens that I have ever worked in, but they do have two distinct advantages.  First of all, they make the cooks select recipes that give you the most taste for the least work.  And second, the scenery outside the window is always changing.  One of the most popular dishes on the menu that also gives you lots of taste for very little effort is this chicken breast in a port wine sauce.  Chef David Kissack starts by giving a boneless skinless chicken breast a light coating of flour.  A little vegetable oil goes into a heated frying pan and then the chicken goes in and cooks for two minutes on one side and three minutes on the other.  When it’s cooked, it comes out of the pan and is held aside.  A quarter cup of milk goes into the pan, a tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese, two tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes and about a tablespoon of port wine.  Then the chicken goes back in to mix with the sauce, and it’s ready to plate.  Half of the sauce goes onto the serving plate, then the chicken, the second half of the sauce, some sauteed vegetables and finally some potatoes. 

One of our earliest pieces of cooking equipment was the griddle:  a flat surface being heated from below, the food being cooked on top.  At some point in history someone decided that holding a little more moisture around the fruit was a good idea.  Edges on the cooking surface got turned up and the first frying pan went into action.  It's very similar to a saute pan; the only design difference is in the sides.  Frying pans curve out, saute pans are straight-sided.  The theory here is that the saute pan is used for flipping the food around; the word “saute” is French and actually means “to jump.”  The straight sides help keep the food in the pan.  The frying pan is used for foods that take a turn and then depart.

When you're buying a frying pan, it’s important to pick one out that's made of highly heat-conductive material.  You want the heat to get from the burner to the food as quickly and as intensely as possible.  Good materials are aluminum, lined copper and cast iron.  You also want to choose a pan where the handle is very well-connected to the pan.  This is the part of the design that's going take the most pressure, so you want it to work well.  It's also nice to have a pan with a handle that is heat-proof so you can put it in an oven.  There are lots of recipes where the pan starts out on the burner and then ends up in the oven.  So a heat-proof handle could be a great help.

As the Canadian continues its way through the province of Ontario, the chefs advance their preparations for the first dinner seating.  The dish that will be on the menu tonight is sauteed shrimp with paprika.

A little vegetable oil goes into a non-stick frying pan; as soon as it’s hot, in goes a quarter cup of chopped onions, followed by a few sliced mushrooms.  That gets sauteed for a minute, at which point the chef adds a tablespoon of chopped garlic and a quarter cup of chopped tomato.  Five shrimp and a half teaspoon of paprika.  Finally a splash of white wine, a little salt and pepper and some cilantro leaves.  Rice that's been colored by cooking it with turmeric goes on the plate, the shrimp in the center, a little more cilantro, and it’s ready to serve.

The simplest description of paprika is that it is a spice made by grinding red peppers into powder.  Paprika first got to Europe when Spanish explorers brought it home from the New World just after the time of Columbus.  It went from Spain to Italy, the Turks found it in Italy and brought it to Hungary where they were hanging out anyway.  It was a very important move for it; it was kind of like when Bette Midler moved from Hawaii to Hollywood -- things opened up.  It appears that Hungary has just the right soil and climate to get this stuff at its most intense heat and flavor.  But for the first two hundred years of growing it in Hungary, it was more heat and not enough flavor.  Then in the mid 1800's, two Hungarian brothers figured out how to make this stuff without the seeds and the veins.  Lots of taste, not too much heat;  it became a really important spice all over Europe. 

Paprika is thought of as being healthful, and these days we're finding out why:  it's packed with vitamins A and C.

Vitamin A and vitamin C are now described as anti-oxidants and it appears that they may retard the growth of cancer and reduce the effects of aging.  I should say the negative effects of aging, because as I grow older and encounter some of these effects, I find that some of them are wonderful and some of them are not so wonderful.

The most striking thing about a trip across Canada on a Via Rail train is the magnificent scenery.  The train's specially designed dome cars make it possible to really see what this country looks like.  Even though my job is to travel around the world making professional video pictures for television, I ended up taking my own home video of the trip.  A busman's holiday. 

As the train enters the Province of Manitoba, the land opens up into wide and level river valleys.  Manitoba has over two hundred major lakes, and their fresh waters offers some of Canada's finest fishing, for pike, perch and lake trout.  Manitoba's one of Canada's prairie provinces, part of the country's heartland.  The landscape was shaped by glaciers during the Ice Age, and it's marked by deep rivers and flat rich tablelands.  The first people to inhabit the area were nomadic bison hunters.  The first Europeans into Manitoba were French fur traders who had a bad habit of trading whiskey to the natives in exchange for skins. 

The Canadian Mounted Police came here to stop that practice and they eventually consolidated the area into what is today's province.  Many of the people who originally came here were brought by the railroads to settle on land owned by the railroads.  It was an early stop for the immigrant trains that brought people from Poland, Hungary, Germany, Greece and the Ukraine.

Manitoba is one of the most fertile farm areas in Canada.  It grows beets, corn, potatoes and wheat.  Wheat is one of Canada's major crops and millions of tons of it are exported every year.  And it was the need to move wheat from the center of Canada to its coastal ports that set Canada into developing its national railway system.  Freight trains carrying wheat are a standard part of the Canadian landscape.

Wheat is a form of grass, an essential element in the civilization of man.  Historians tell us that our ancient ancestors were nomadic.  They would wander from place to place in search of food.  But somewhere about seven thousand years ago, we began to settle down near stands of wild wheat.  And we figured how to plant the grain so we would have a dependable supply.

Next thing you know, we had jobs and mortgages and wheat became the staff of life.  Wheat plays a very important role in the stability of nations where wheat is the primary cereal.  Whenever a nation cannot deliver enough of its primary cereal to meet the needs of its people, it's on its way down the tubes.  We saw it in Ancient Greece, we saw it in Ancient Rome, and most recently we saw it in Russia.  For hundreds of years Russia produced so much wheat that it could meet the needs of its people and actually export some.  Then during its Communist period, wheat production became so bad that the Russians began importing wheat.  Millions and millions of tons every year from Canada and the United States.  A couple of years later, and you see the beginning of the end of its economic system.  As soon as a country cannot deliver its primary cereal to its citizens, it's on its way out.


The farms of Canada have been central to the nation's growth.  Farms that were settled in the 1800's by thousands of immigrants who came here from all over Europe.  One of the most important groups came from Germany.  And they produced the type of farm that they had worked on back in their original home towns.

They also tried to reproduce the recipes that they remembered from their childhood.  The meat that had been part of German cooking for hundreds of years was soon on their table.  That meat was pork, and it was there in just about every form you could think of.

Today Executive Chef George McNeill of Toronto's Royal York Hotel is preparing a traditional German stuffed porkchop.  A little vegetable oil goes into a frying pan.  As soon as it’s hot, in goes some chopped carrot, onion and celery.  Plus a few ounces of soup stock.  That cooks for two minutes and goes into a mixing bowl.  Cubes of pumpernickel bread are added and half a beaten egg.  All that's pressed together to make a stuffing; nutmeg, oregano and thyme are the seasonings.

At this point the stuffing goes into the refrigerator to cool down, which makes it a lot easier to stuff.

Next, a loin of pork with the bone in is cut into chops.  A pocket is cut into each chop and then stuffed with the stuffing.  A wooden skewer is used to hold the pocket closed.  A little vegetable oil is heated in a frying pan and in go the stuffed chops.  Two minutes of cooking on each side will give the chops color.

GEORGE McNEILL:  You notice that we have the very long toothpicks because we want to make sure that we remove them before the customer gets them.  A lot of people at home will put the very small toothpicks because they're more readily available.  Often they'll leave them in, but since it's family it really doesn't matter.

BURT (to George):   Not fair!

BURT WOLF:  Then onto a heat-proof dish.  A little apple juice goes into the pan and the drippings from the chops are scraped into it.  Half of that is poured on top of the chops, at which point they go into a 375 degree oven for forty minutes.  The remaining apple juice gets an addition of stock, a little salt and pepper and ten minutes of boiling to reduce and thicken.  The chops come out of the oven and they're ready to plate.  A little red cabbage, some German noodles called spaetzel, a chop, watercress and the pan gravy. 

During the 1980's there was a substantial decline in the amount of pork eaten in North America.  The reduction was in part caused by the public's interest in a diet that was lower in fat.  Medical researchers were discovering the importance of a low-fat diet.  At the time pork was very high in fat, and so it quickly got on the Very Limited Consumption list.  Well, the pork producers got the message, and today's pork is thirty percent lower in fat than it was in 1983. Which is not to say that pork has suddenly become a low-fat food.  We're not talking poached haddock here, but there is a place for pork in a healthful diet.

The leanest cuts of pork come from the loin.  And only about twenty percent of the calories in a pork loin comes from fat.  If you're looking for a low-fat alternative to regular bacon, take a look at Canadian bacon.  It's a pork loin that has been smoked and cured.  Only forty-one percent of the calories in Canadian bacon come from fat.  Regular bacon gets seventy-four percent of its calories from fat.

I say it over and over again to remind myself -- that's something you do as you get a little bit older -- there are no good foods, there are no bad foods, there are just inappropriate amounts.  If you choose your pork from a lean cut, serve it in moderate portions of about four ounces and cook it to 170 degrees, you should be fine.


The massive immigration of Europeans to North America started in the middle of the 1800's; millions of them came from Eastern Europe.  One of the largest groups of Eastern Europeans came from Poland.  Many of them settled in the prairie provinces of Canada and put the fertile farmland to good use.  Their cooking became a basic part of the ethnic cuisines of Canada.

Executive Chef George McNeill of Toronto's Royal York Hotel often uses typical Polish farm recipes as part of his home cooking.  Right now he's preparing stuffed cabbage.

Cabbage leaves are cooked in boiling water for three minutes, and then dried out.  The stuffing is made by sauteing a little vegetable oil with a chopped onion, a cup of ground pork and two cups of precooked rice.  That's placed onto the cabbage; the leaves are rolled up.  They go into a heat-proof dish, seam-side down.  A little stock goes in and they're off to a 350 degree oven for thirty-five minutes.  The sauce is made by sauteing chopped onion, mushrooms and a touch of cream.  Some of that sauce goes onto the plate.  The cabbage returns, a little more sauce and its ready.

That's the traditional Polish farm recipe, and the cream is fine because the Polish farmers were out there burning those calories.  I don't actually get to do much farm work these days, so I leave out the high-fat cream and I put in chopped tomatoes and their juices; it still works fine.

The round tightly closed cabbages that we use today were developed about a thousand years ago, by the farmers of Northern Europe.  Before then, cabbages were a much more open and loose affair. 

Cabbages like this, with their compact heads, became a very important food source to the people of Northern Europe.  They thrive in cold weather and they store well.  Along with broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, they are members of a family called the cruciferous vegetables -- and what a family it is, too.  You can spot a cruciferous vegetable by looking at its base.  You'll see a series of thick ribs that form a cross.  That's the “cross” in “cruciferous.”  Scientists have been studying these cruciferous vegetables, and they find that there is something in them that is a cancer blocker.  They don't know what it is, or how it works, but they've got enough research to tell us to get more cruciferous vegetables into our diet.

When you're picking out a cabbage in your supermarket, look for heads that feel heavy and look solid for their size.  You also want healthy- looking outside leaves without any cracks that are caused by drying out.  And the leaves should be tightly attached to the stem.

And don't cut your cabbage until you're just about to use it.  As soon as you cut a cabbage, it begins to lose its vitamin C.


Well we've come to the end of the line here  in Manitoba.  Please join us next time as we continue to travel around the world looking for good things to eat and drink at Burt Wolf's Table.

Burt Wolf's Table: Toronto - #204

BURT WOLF:  Toronto, Canada:  a major metropolitan city encircled by a radiant countryside.  Great restaurants serving over sixty different ethnic cuisines.  We'll get the recipes of some of North America's most talented chefs; visit one of Canada's most elegant hotels; and prepare a meal in a 200-year-old fort.  So join me in Toronto at Burt Wolf's Table.

Toronto is the largest city in the world's second largest country.  The striking downtown skyline was created by the corporations that make this city the center of Canada's business community.  The Canadian National Tower is the world's tallest free-standing structure, and Yonge Street the world's longest street, over 1700 miles.  Toronto is the theatre capital of the nation, reflecting the best of Broadway and London.  The downtown business core is surrounded by low-level buildings, wide streets, and parks, which keep the city open, light, spacious, and in human scale.  With all the business, banks, and educational institutions in town, many people like to think of Toronto as the brain of Canada, and it may very well be that.  But it is definitely the stomach.

Toronto is packed with good food.  The St. Lawrence Market is loaded with good things to eat from all over the world, and so is the Kensington Market.  Each of the ethnic neighborhoods has dozens of food shops offering the specialities of the community.  And when it comes to restaurants, the town is in top shape.  The chefs are considered local superstars, and their devoted diners follow them around town.

Toronto is like a big tossed salad:  each ethnic ingredient in its own place, holding onto its very specific flavor, but appreciating and complementing its neighbors.  The tomato needs the lettuce and the oil needs the vinegar.  As a result, Toronto is a great place to eat.

A quick look at a map shows that Toronto, and the lower part of its province of Ontario, are resting down in the middle of the United States ... which makes it very easy for U.S. tourists to just pop in.  But 175 years ago, it made it just as easy for U.S. troops to just pop in; and that fact has had an amazing impact on the history of the area.


The American Revolutionary War officially ended in 1783, but the tension between England and the United States continued.  War between them broke out again 1812, and spilled over into this part of Canada, with U.S. troops on one side and British and Canadians on the other.

When the War of 1812 came to an end, the British realized that they could not hold this area against the United States unless they packed it with people.  And to do that, they developed a very progressive immigration policy which is still in effect.  The British came, the Chinese came, the Europeans came, the West Indians, the East Indians, and most recently, the Southeast Asians.

Historically, Toronto has received one out of every four immigrants to Canada, which has made this town a microcosm of much of the best food on the planet.

During the early years of the 1800's, there was almost constant tension between the United States and England.  When the English became deeply involved with a series of battles against Napoleon, the U.S. decided to take advantage of the situation by attacking the British settlements in Canada.  The U.S. government believed that all they had to do was march into Canada and the residents would renounce Great Britain and join with the U.S.  Wrong!  The Canadians were very serious about their loyalty to the British crown, and they put up an enormous defense.  As a matter of fact, the only important victory that the U.S. forces had was here in Toronto, at Fort York, in the spring of 1813.

Today, Fort York has been rebuilt into a historic monument that will give you a clear idea of what life was like in a military garrison of the early 1800's.  The reconstructed fort is an ideal place to take a look at what a kitchen was like in 1813.  Fiona Lucas is a historical researcher who specializes in information about cooking.

FIONA LUCAS:  This whole thing here is called down-hearth cooking.  So what we're doing is, we have the cauldron -- at the moment it's got herical [?] mutton soup in it.

WOLF:  You can decide how hot you want the cauldron to get by the length of ...

LUCAS:  Right.

WOLF:  ... the hook you hang it on.

LUCAS:  Right.  It's actually forged so you can do that.  The hooks are different lengths; you can move the equipment back and forth along the crane -- the crane's the bar at the top there; you can rotate most of the equipment.  And then the other thing, of course, is the size of the fire ... okay, because that will vary ... a tremendous amount ...

WOLF:  That's the hardest thing to do.

LUCAS:  Yeah.

WOLF:  It's much easier just to pull it out.

LUCAS:  Right.  And that's actually one of the important points of controlling the heat as well, simply moving it back and forth, you know.  In front here, we have a gridiron, with a long-handled frying pan on top.  Underneath you can see there's a whole pile of coals here.  When you do this kind of cooking, you have to use the entire expanse, so that means coming out in front of the hearth as well, so we often pull shovelfuls of coals in front here.  So, for instance, right here we have the onions and the potatoes frying up in the juices that have come from the chicken, which is roasting as well.

WOLF:  How does the chicken roaster work?

LUCAS:  Well, it's ... the British called it a tin kitchen, and it was a very, very efficient piece of equipment.  So it would be here, facing into the fire, and of course ‘cause it's tin, the heat's going to reflect off the back as well, so it bounces back on it.  What you do with this is you simply rotate it around ... there's a whole circle here of little holes, and you simply adjust it around.  So eventually the whole bird moves around in several occasions...

WOLF:  It's really very flexible.  You have a frying system going on ...

LUCAS:  Very, yeah.

WOLF:  You have a boiling system going on.  You have a roasting area there.  You can increase or decrease the number of burners or the number of ovens that you have ...

LUCAS:  Yeah, very much so.  And there's ...

WOLF:  ... very easily.

LUCAS:  ... there's actually room to accommodate two or three cooks as well.


WOLF:  Fort York was the defensive garrison for the British during the early years of the 1800s.  Today it's a teaching museum for early 19th-century Canadian life.  Tourists and students come from all over to see what was going on.  Part of the Fort York program is devoted to the reproduction of recipes from the early 1800s.  This is a period recipe for lemon sponge cake that was originally written in 1810.

Take the whites from ten eggs and beat them ‘til stiff.  Take the juice from a lemon, and the rind, and put it into the whites.  Put in three tablespoons of rose water; a pound of sifted sugar.

If you were lucky enough to get sugar in those days, it came in the form of a cone like this, and you'd break off a hunk, put it into a mortar, grab your pestle, and break it up into small pieces.   (POUNDING)  When it had a nice even consistency, you would dump it into a strainer — called a tammy, actually — and work it through ... until you had a nice container of very smooth, fine sugar.

Next, beat ten egg yolks.  Blend them with the whites.  The blending tool at the time was the hand, and quite frankly, it still does the best job; you get right down to the bowl and blend everything together very gently, so the air stays in the egg white, which makes it a light and spongy cake.

Three cups of flour are added.  Then into a buttered mold, and into a moderate oven for an hour — that'd be about 350 degrees these days.  The tubed baking mold was a great invention.  You have a heavy batter that's very delicate; if you cooked it in a solid form, the outside would be burned before the inside got cooked.  This allows the heat to get into the center so it all cooks evenly.


Toronto was a valuable settlement in England's development of their Canadian territories, and today the British and their descendents represent the city's largest cultural group.  But right behind them come the Italians.  Italians were part of the first British units to explore Canada, and Italian pioneer families show up in the records as early as 1831.  But the first immigration of any significance was in 1885, when Italian laborers showed up in large groups from southern Italy.

These days, there are over 400,000 people of Italian heritage living in Toronto, and their historic influence is clearest in two areas:  construction, where the talent and strength of Italian stonemasons can be seen throughout the city; and in food.

Italian immigrants set up some of Toronto's best markets.  They prided themselves on presenting great fruits and vegetables.  Pasta factories have been turning out their products in Toronto for over 100 years.  And the Italian restaurants of Toronto will match anything in Italy.  Quite frankly, the Italians have done more to improve and maintain good quality cooking in North America than any other immigrant group.  Milli grazie!

The first Italian to set foot in Canada was a man named Gianni Cabatto.  He was a skilled navigator who had anglicized his name to John Cabot and gone to work as an explorer for the British.  He arrived in Canada in 1497.  Today, his historic influence is being celebrated in the kitchens of Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel by chef Susan Weaver, who's cooking up a bowl of orecchietti pasta.  Orecchietti means "little ears," so listen carefully.

Four quarts of water are brought to a boil.  In goes a little oil, to keep the pasta from sticking together and the water from foaming over.  Then the pasta.  When the pasta has been cooking for ten minutes, three cups of Italian broccoli rapi are added.  Can't find rapi?  Just use good old American broccoli.

The more research that scientists do on broccoli, the more we find out how valuable a vegetable it is.  It's packed with vitamins and minerals that are important to our health; they appear to be cancer blockers and improve our overall well-being.  So get that broccoli into your diet!

Let the broccoli and the pasta cook for five minutes more.  Then drain off the water, and hold the pasta and the broccoli aside.  Put a little oil into a hot saute pan.  Add a tomato cut into strips; some chopped basil; the pasta; fresh pepper.  A few flips to blend everything together, then into a serving bowl.  A garnish of sun-dried tomatoes and a few shavings of parmigiano cheese.

Right down the road from Toronto's Little Italy is a neighborhood heavily populated by people of Portuguese ancestry.  A number of historians believe that the Portuguese knew about North America long before Columbus arrived in the neighborhood, but they never told anybody about it because they considered it a trade secret.  For hundreds of years, Portuguese fishermen had followed the codfish across the Atlantic Ocean to the Grand Banks which are just off the coast of Canada; and there's considerable evidence that those Portuguese fishermen came ashore quite regularly.

Today, Canada has a large Portuguese community, with well over 100,000 Portuguese living right here in Toronto.  The central Portuguese area of the city even has street signs that read "Portugal Village."  And because many Portuguese hold dual citizenship, Portuguese politicians regularly show up in Toronto all the way from Europe, looking for votes.

When it comes to food, they must feel very much at home.  The neighborhood is packed with Portuguese restaurants and take-out stores serving their traditional dishes.  And the bakeries are in a class by themselves.  The Portuguese have a highly developed sweet tooth.  And everywhere you'll find the dried codfish that brought the Portuguese here in the first place.

The history of Portugal is the history of men and the sea.  For hundreds of years, the best ocean navigators came from Portugal.  Even Columbus went there when he was planning his voyage.  Portugal is a great place to learn about the sea, and that goes for cooks as well as explorers.  Portugal has some of the world's great seafood recipes.  Today, chef Susan Weaver is preparing a classic Portuguese spicy shrimp.

A little vegetable oil is heated in a stock pot.  Then in goes a quarter cup of minced garlic; two cups of sliced red onion; two cups of sliced white onion; some finely chopped red chili pepper; eight tomatoes that have been cut into quarters; a little salt and pepper; and two pounds of shrimp that have had their shells removed.  Cook and stir all that for about five minutes.  Then pour in four cups of tomato juice.  Bring everything to a simmer; add in a half-cup of green onions that have been sliced into rounds, some chopped parsley, and some fresh coriander.  That's it.  Into a serving bowl, and you're all set.

When Consumer Reports magazine surveyed luxury hotels, they found that the gold standard was the Four Seasons group:  great attention to detail, luxury accommodations, fabulous service; hotels and resorts in a class by themselves.

The group's headquarters are in Toronto, and their Toronto Four Seasons is a perfect example of what makes them so popular.  It's located in the heart of the town's fashionable Yorkville district, surrounded by the best shops and galleries, and minutes away from the business area.  The public rooms are elegant, and the private rooms packed with every comfort and convenience you could imagine ... and quite a few you might not have thought of.

Luxury hotels are expected to offer bathrobes to guests, but this is the first time I have seen them in children's sizes.  Of course there's soap in your room, but there's also a selection of non-allergic soaps; and if your skin is dried out from the zero moisture of a long flight, they'll put a humidifier in your room.  One of the most impressive examples of the hotel's attention to the needs of its guests are the digital display systems that send and receive messages through the use of typewriter-style keyboards.  They are installed into the rooms of guests that are hearing-impaired.

The Four Seasons Toronto also delivers some of the very best food in the city, and it does so in some of the most beautiful dining rooms.  The Studio Cafe serves dishes that reflect the traditional cooking of Italy and other countries of the Mediterranean:  light, airy, and open.  Pastas and pizzas are their specialties.  All of the artworks in the Studio Cafe are originals created by Canadian artists, and the glass pieces are available for sale.  The whole place is what you might call a real "glass" act.

Truffles is the hotel's award-winning restaurant, with the ambience of a country chateau.  And whatever it is you would like to have prepared, the skilled and attentive staff always responds to your request as if it were no "truffle" at all.

The history of European cooking places women in the home and men in the professional kitchen, and it's been that way for thousands of years.  But no more.  These days women chefs are becoming the stars of Western gastronomy, and I don't mean to limit that statement to small neighborhood restaurants.  The ladies of the ladle are running major multi-million-dollar operations for giant corporations.  Carrie Nahabedian and Susan Weaver are perfect examples of what I mean.

WOLF:  Do you think there's a difference between the way a woman runs a kitchen and a man runs a kitchen?

SUSAN WEAVER:  I think if women add anything to a kitchen and to a business, it's the natural art of cooking and pleasing people around them ... nurturing and making people happy with the emotions of food.  Women have done that forever ... our grandmothers, our mothers.  And if we can add something that's distinctly special, I think we can add that to our profession.

CARRIE NAHABEDIAN:  We try harder because it's expected of us.

WOLF:  Carrie, what do you feel the difference is between a restaurant kitchen and a hotel kitchen?

NAHABEDIAN:  In a hotel, you have to worry about everything.  You are responsible for the entire operation of the kitchen, you have banquets, you have room service.  It's literally a hub of activity.  You are constantly on the go, and your day flies by before you even know it.

WEAVER:  Working in a hotel has the advantages of the fact that you have a corporation that has a business of housing people, feeding people, and catering to the luxury market, and that's a very good umbrella to work under.

WOLF:  If it's true that women chefs tend to have a more mothering attitude towards their customer, as chef Susan Weaver says, then her recipe for a marvelous chocolate roll is a wonderful result of that instinct.

Three-quarters of a pound of semi-sweet chocolate and two ounces of butter go into the top of a double boiler and are melted together.  Then the bowl comes off the heat, and in goes a half-cup of crumbled cookies; a cup and a half of dried fruits; a cup of pistachio nuts; a half-cup each of macadamias and almonds; and three-quarters of a cup of raisins.  All that gets mixed together; then a quarter-cup of sugar goes into the melted chocolate, followed by the fruit and nut mixture.  A strip of plastic wrap goes onto a flat surface, the chocolate mixture goes on, and it's shaped and rolled into a cylinder.

Into the refrigerator for four hours to harden, and it's ready to be sliced into rounds.  Strawberries are mixed together with powdered sugar and a little fruit juice, and everything's ready to be plated.  Pound cake or ice cream, chocolate rounds, strawberries, a leaf of mint.

The strawberries that were used in that recipe are one of the favorite fruits of the Canadians.  The growing season here is small, but the appreciation of the strawberry is big.  Each year 80 million pints of strawberries are brought in from California.  But the strawberry has its own long history in Canada.

One of the earliest European explorers of Canada was a man named Jacques Cartier.  Cartier had been sent by King Francis I of France to find a short route to Asia so he could get his spices at a discount price — same project that Columbus was working on for the King of Spain.  Cartier discovered the St. Laurence Seaway and sailed deep into Canada.

In his diary of 1534, he noted that there were vast patches of strawberries along the great river and in the woods.  Cartier was probably the first European to taste our giant North American strawberries.  Strawberries have been around since Neolithic times, but they had always been little bitty things, very delicate; you had to eat them in the forest where you found them.  During the Middle Ages, they developed a reputation for being a medicine, which is kind of interesting when you think about what we are learning these days about strawberries and nutrition.

They're low in calories; a cup of strawberries has only 45 calories.  They're high in vitamin C -- that same cup has more vitamin C than a medium orange -- plus potassium and dietary fiber.  My kind of medicine.  I'd gladly take a daily dose of these.  And you gotta love a fruit that has the audacity to wear its seeds on the outside.


If you've ever wondered why we eat the way we do, or almost anything else in terms of human behavior, then you will love meeting Toronto's expert on eccentricities, Margaret Visser.  Margaret Visser is a classical scholar whose field of study is everyday life.  She's written two amazing books about food and the way we eat:  Much Depends on Dinner and The Rituals of Dinner.  They tell us about the unexpected history that joins us at our dining-room tables.

MARGARET VISSER:  The dining-room table really only came to be a commonly-used piece of furniture in the last third of the 18th century ... and it really only became really widespread in the 19th century.  What people had before  ... if you were rich, you had trestles put on sort of ... trestles and then a board, very simple stuff, and you put very very expensive tablecloths ...

WOLF:  Sawhorses and a big board on top.

VISSER:  Just very rough stuff.  And the rich would have a huge place or a hall, you know, would put up this banquet table whenever they felt like it.  The poor would eat, as people have always eaten for hundreds of thousands of years, near the fire.  So they would have a solid table in the kitchen by the fire.  What happened was, in the 18th century, we were getting the rising bourgeoisie.  Now, they are people who have risen from the crowd who were eating by the fire, as the peasants have always done, and so those were solid tables they were used to.  But they had become rich, so they introduced the idea -- and the aristocracy began this shortly before -- of the dining room.  A special room for nothing but eating?  It was an inconceivable idea; I mean, nobody's ever had this before ... really bizarre, you know, we've got to have a special ... not going to do anything else, we're just going to eat.  So the bourgeoisie have this dining room already there, and then they go, "Oh, look, we're not going to have this trestle table, we're going to have a solid table.  Ah.  And it's going to be a solid table that's made of really good wood."  So you had this great big glossy dark table, polished, like us ... I mean, we're the bourgeois, we're getting polished, and we wear dark clothes, right, and it's solid, and it lasts ... continuity.

And then there's another whole thing.  Dining, for the Victorians, we're talking about Victorians, and France, and the same is true in Italy as well ... but it becomes the recreation.  Eating becomes recreation for the rich.  Because, you see, especially in England and the North where people had the most money, “we are respectable, you know, we don't go out in public ... we don't flaunt our money.  We have it, oh boy, do we have it, but we don't flaunt it, we don't go public with it, we are respectable.  And we are exclusive.”  Now, I put it to you that the table is an absolutely brilliant tool for this, because it means... see, a table is limited by nature, okay.  Only a certain number of people can sit around it.  It's not like, you know, if you're eating in India, for instance, you have a huge crowd, and we're all sitting on the floor, we're eating with our hands, we're eating vegetarian; so if somebody else rolls up, you say "Ah, join the crowd," you put a few more beans in the pot, you know, just move up, you know, and we can all just share this stuff.

No, no.  We're now Victorians.  We have the room, we have the table first, then the room, then the house, and so you've got to penetrate to the tables of the rich.  The table holds a certain number and no more, and they're eating a roast ... a roast, which is put on the table, right, and there you have this beast, the whole thing on the table -- I mean, the Chinese found this absolutely the most barbarous thought, of having this whole animal on the table.  And then the pater familias -- who's sitting, incidentally, at the head of the table, and his wife is at the foot of the table, okay ... (LAUGHS) the table's wonderful for hierarchy, see, it's oblong, and only the top person sits at either end, and then the lower people at the sides, right -- and then he rises and he carves the roast with his knife, which is the male prerogative, and he says, you know, "Some for you and some for you" ... but he asks in the order ... "Aunt Mabel, what would you like" ... "Oh, I like a little bit of breast, please" ... white meat is higher than dark meat, and who asks first matters, cause you get what you want.

In other words, there's a whole ... the whole of society, really, can be summed up in that table and that joint.  (LAUGHS)  That's what food does, you see.  It's so expressive of social aims and desires.


WOLF:  Toronto is certainly a good town to eat in, and it owes many of its special flavors to its ethnic diversity.  When that happens in terms of food, everybody is in for a treat; you end up being able to eat your way around the world, and every recipe is just a cab ride away.  Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for things that taste good and make it easier to eat well.  I'm Burt Wolf. 

Origins: Newfoundland - #122

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

The Gulf Stream is a current of warm water that starts just off the coast of Florida and runs north to Newfoundland, Canada.  It’s fifty miles wide, moves along at the rate of four miles per hour and has a starting temperature of about eighty degrees Fahrenheit.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  As it slides past Newfoundland, Canada, it smacks into a cold current coming down from the north.  The interaction between these two streams churns up the water and causes tiny sea creatures to come up from the bottom.  The tiny sea creatures attract hungry fish.  The hungry fish attract hungry fisherman.  The area where all this is going on is called the Grand Banks.  We don’t know how long people have been fishing on the Grand Banks, but records indicate that the Portuguese were fishing here long before Columbus smacked into the islands of the Caribbean.

In 1497, the King of England sent John Cabot here to find the secret route to Asia.  Cabot was looking for the same passage that Columbus had been looking for on behalf of the King of Spain.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Instead of the secret passage, the Spanish explorers found gold.  Not bad.  Instead of the secret passage the English explorers found fish.  But don’t laugh -- the fish put the English in the chips.  In those days, fish was a big deal commodity and a single good catch could make you rich.  Cabot’s New Found Land was important.

Newfoundland became the first colony in the English Empire and it kept its colonial standing until 1949, when it became part of Canada.  Today, it stands as one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of North America.  Its capital city is St. John’s.

St. John’s is one of North America’s oldest cities.  Its original attraction was the excellent natural harbor, which is protected by a series of hills that rise up from the shoreline.  The entrance from the sea is less than seven hundred feet wide, which made the town easy to protect.  During the 1700s, a chain was put up across the mouth of the harbor.  It prevented enemy ships from coming in.  Low-tech, but it worked.

The steep cliff that comes up from the harbor mouth is called Signal Hill.  At first, it was used to warn the town that enemy troops were approaching.  Later, it was used to signal the return of merchant ships.  Flags were flown that indicated the nationality of the approaching vessel -- the company that owned it -- and the specific type of ship.  The flag gave the owner of the ship time to get ready for its arrival in port... and it did the same for the wives of the sailors.

In 1901, Signal Hill was used by Guglielmo Marconi to test his long distance electromagnetic waves.  It was at this site that the first wireless transatlantic radio message was received.  It came all the way across the Atlantic from Cornwall, England.

TELEPHONE OPERATOR:  “I’m sorry -- the number you have reached is not in service at this time.  No further information is available.”

The sound that actually traveled across the ocean was a series of three short beeps... the Morse Code for the letter “S.”

Down below, the narrow streets of the city are lined with brightly colored houses.  This street is called Jelly Bean Row.  About 100,000 people live in St. John’s and they love it.  And who wouldn’t?  It’s a city that feels like a village.  Everyone I met was friendly and helpful.  Harbor Drive, Water Street and Duckworth Street run parallel to the docks and are lined with restaurants and shops.

One of my favorite places to eat was the Classic Cafe.  It’s open twenty-four hours a day, and I stopped in for a traditional St.John’s breakfast.  Baked beans with pieces of bacon... fishcakes... Toutons, which are disks of sautéed bread that taste like doughnuts... and fresh coffee.

St.John’s and the area around it are great for long walks, which is essential after a breakfast like that.

If you head over to the northeast corner of St. John’s, you will come upon a village called Quidi Vidi.  It’s a small fishing port and home to the local beer brewer.

Just inland from the village is Quidi Vidi Lake, which is the site of the St. John’s Regatta.

COXSWAIN:  Sit up and look good!  Use the legs!  Keep the oars down for the whole stroke!

The Regatta is a rowing competition held annually on the first Wednesday of August.  It got started in 1818, which may make it the oldest continuing sporting competition in North America.

I’d also recommend a fifteen-minute drive south to the Cape Spear National Historic Site.  The coastal scenery is spectacular and during the early summer months whales stop in for lunch... and icebergs sail by on their way south.

Each spring, as the weather warms up, over 40,000 icebergs break off the glaciers of Greenland and drift south.  On average they weigh just over 200,000 tons and only an eighth of the berg is visible above the water.  About four hundred icebergs pass Cape Spear each year.

And while you’re here you can visit the Cape Spear Lighthouse.  It was built in 1835.  Inside, there’s a reconstruction that lets you see how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived.  There is also a series of walking trails that will take you out to the most easterly point in North America -- the far east of the western world.

A bit further south along the coast of Newfoundland is Bay Bulls and the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.  This is one of the most important sea-bird breeding areas in North America.  Every summer more than two million sea birds come here to breed.  It’s also an ideal bay for whale watching.  And the ideal way to see both the birds and the whales is onboard one of the O’Brien tour boats.  Actually, the O’Briens themselves are something to see.

JOSEPH O’BRIEN:  [sings a sea shanty, then:]

Alright, that’s it, quiet, quiet, quiet!  Listen here!  Alright, ladies and gentlemen, who don’t got a hat?  Alright, well, don’t look up and smile with your mouth open because there’s going to be like two-and-a-half million birds flying over your head.  Alright?  Next to Steve is the Atlantic Puffin.  He’s got an orange beak, a whitish-grey cheek, a black jacket, white shirt and orange shoes.  Tattooed with feathers, sitting on your finger, he’s eleven inches in his finest hour.  We’re going to definitely see puffins; if we don’t see puffins, we got a white cane we’re going to pass it on to you guys, alright?  Now, next to the puffin is the Northern Gannet.  We call this one the “Newfie Strike-Force.”  He spots his food from a hundred to two-hundred feet up into the air and plummets in the water in a torpedo-like effect.  He’s the size of a bald eagle in his wing-span, he’s got a yellow-crested head and black wingtips.  There’s a gillerbot (sic) now right off this corner of the boat, fluttering right there along side of us.  See the little wing patches?  Oh, he just dove down.  Now, these are wicked good swimmers.  If you’re not into that, well I guess the whales are what’s up for you.

Now, this is how you identify whales: the acrobat of acrobats is coming up -- the Humpback.  This is the Atlantic Humpback, he blows a spray of eighteen to twenty feet high in a balloon-like shape, and he’ll show his hump, he’s famous for his hump, alright?  When he raises up his hump you know that that’s a Humpback, and when he sticks up his tail, that’s when she gets really good.  Because that entitles you to become a crystal-card- packing whale-watcher.  Yes!

Alright, this is it!  Whale watching in the North Atlantic!


JOSEPH O’BRIEN:  I knew that.  Right off the bow about six-hundred feet out, we got a Humpback whale blowin’ and spurtin.’  Remember, he can feel our transmissions in the water of our engine and the waves crashing off the boat.  He’s listening.  He knows you’re out here, so whip it up!  Party time!  Whistle, yeah, everybody whistle, clap your hands... Now, he’s straight down here off the back... Look underneath, right down... See the green in the water?  The whale is right underneath you!  Hey!  Alright!  That’s it!  Hold on everybody!  We’re at the mercy of the wave!  And the pleasure of the whale! 

(Sings sea shanty)

Travel south a little bit further and you will come to Ferryland, the site of a remarkable archeological dig.  In 1621 George Calvert, known to his close friends as Lord Baltimore, established one of the first English settlements in North America.  It was right on this spot and it was called the Colony of Avalon.

The settlers managed to survive the harsh winters, but during the late 1600s the colony was finally destroyed by French and Dutch invaders.  Over the centuries the Colony of Avalon was forgotten as new buildings were constructed on top of the old ones.

Since 1992, Dr. Jim Tuck and his team have been uncovering the original settlement bit by bit.  They’re trying to get a sense of what the edge of the New World was like almost four hundred years ago.

DR. JIM TUCK:  This long, low wall here with the water on one side is the sea wall.  That was the original north boundary of the Colony of Avalon.  And what the colonists did is they built that wall, then they began to fill in the pool or the harbor behind it.  So, that land and even this land we’re standing on is all new land, made land.  If we’d been standing here in 1621, we’d have been standing down about eight feet and up to our chest or something in water.  Now, with this big high tide, those north / south walls that we can see were the walls of a two-bay barn or byre where cattle were kept.  And that the waste ran through that little rectangular opening in the wall, through this other wall, and under those rocks into this little rectangular basin here, which was originally the privy, or one of the privies, for the Colony of Avalon, but after that barn was built became a dung pit, I suppose, or a combination dung pit and privy.  And the floor is well below the high tide line, so every time the tide comes in -- it comes in twice a day -- and flushes the toilet for you.  Didn’t work perfectly, though, which is lucky for us, because there’s a lot of stuff preserved in there.  Everything from thousands, maybe millions of seeds and bones and even a wheelbarrow, believe it or not, that somehow got down in there -- don’t ask me, your guess is as good as mine.

Well, there’s a little story about this patch of cobblestones here.  Captain Wynne wrote back to George Calvert in 1622, and said that he’d built a mansion house and tenements, and kitchen, and brewhouse, and forge; then he said he wanted to make another row of buildings to make the whole a “pretty street.”  So we think this is the east end of Captain Wynne’s pretty street that ran through the center of the village.  It’s a cobblestone street about thirteen feet wide.  These fellows that are digging here are looking to find the rest of the cobblestone street, see exactly what the pattern is.  Once we find that, it’ll be much easier to figure out the town plan.  It certainly is covered with, you know, real upscale artifacts, things like leaded glass windows, and delft or tin glazed ceramics, and the kind of stuff that only the very best New World, very richest New World residents would have possessed.  So, we’re pretty hopeful.

Well, we’re just starting to excavate here... and it’s just those few squares down a very short ways, but we think from the look of all the rocks in here and from those very thin rocks, those grey slates are the slates that were used sort of as shingles on roofs.  So...

BURT WOLF:  You find a lot of stuff at this site.

DR. JIM TUCK:  Oh, thousands, and hundreds of thousands... We must be close to a million artifacts -- individual specimens -- by now.  And we’ve only done seven, or eight, or nine percent, so there’s an awful lot more to go.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The history of Newfoundland is filled with firsts.  It was the first colony in the British Empire.  It was the first place to develop an annual sporting competition in North America.  It received the first transatlantic radio signal.  And it was the first place where transatlantic flights took off.

Being further east than any other land in North America, it made good sense for early transatlantic pilots to start from Newfoundland; Amelia Earhart did, Charles Lindbergh did, and so did many of the great balloonists.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When man decided that it was time to fly, he based his early experiments on nature. It was the natural thing to do.  Clearly, the plane is designed in imitation of the bird.  But the balloon is clearly the result of man’s perverse creative genius.  There is nothing in nature that makes use of a lighter-than-air device for flying.

This particular balloon is shaped like a maple leaf, the traditional emblem of Canada, and it travels around the world promoting Canadian tourism.

The early superstars of ballooning were the Montgolfier brothers.  In 1783, near the city of Lyon in France, they used hot air from a straw fire to launch a balloon that was thirty-three feet in diameter, and they got it up to a height of a thousand feet.

Benjamin Franklin was in Paris while the Montgolfier brothers were experimenting, and he immediately saw the military potential of the balloon.  He wrote that it was inexpensive, easy, fast and could be used by an observer to see what the enemy was up to.  In addition to his many illegitimate children, Franklin may have been the father of the spy satellite.

During the Second World War the Japanese bombed the United States and Canada with over one thousand unmanned balloons. In order to avoid any panic, both governments and the press agreed to cover up the story.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And the U.S. government claims that the UFO’s that landed in New Mexico during the 40s were high altitude balloons carrying test dummies.  Sure.

The maple leaf has become the graphic symbol of Canada, and from a gastronomic point of view it makes good sense.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Canada is one of the few places in the world with the unique climate that is necessary in order to produce maple syrup.  But if you were going to choose a graphic symbol for Newfoundland, you would probably have to choose the cod.  From the very beginning of this island’s history, the cod has been extremely important.  And it’s still very much part of the daily diet of this province.

Almost every restaurant I visited in St. John’s served battered and sautéed cod tongues.  They have the texture of an oyster and the small ones, as everyone warned me, are better, but the question is, better than what?

And then there is Fish and Brewis -- dried salt cod soaked overnight, fist-size rocks of dried bread called hardtack, also soaked overnight.  Then both are mixed together and garnished with pieces of fried pork fat.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  A favorite in April is Seal Flipper Pie, and I ask you: what would Fall be like without Squirrel Stew, Rabbit Ravioli, or Caribou Bourguignon?  These are the traditional dishes of this area, and they taste like home to the Newfoundlander, but I suspect they are an acquired taste.  There are, however, a few traditional recipes with instant appeal.

And I was taught two of them by Steve Watson, who is the executive chef at the Hotel Newfoundland.

The Hotel Newfoundland is one of the Canadian Pacific Hotels, and I have stayed in many of them over the years.  They’re usually the top hotel in the city, which is the case here.  Well designed, with everything that a modern traveler needs and a staff that reflects the traditional friendliness of the Newfoundlander.

Chef Watson has won a number of awards for his elegant offerings, which are usually based on local products.  Newfoundland rack of lamb, fed on seagrass... Deep water lobster from the Grand Banks -- very sweet... Scallops, shrimp and lobster in a saffron sauce with a puff pastry scallop shell.  But today I have asked him for a more down-home approach.

During the 1400s, when Portuguese sailors first fished the Grand Banks, they called the nearby island “Terra de Baccalaos”... which means “the land of the dried codfish.”  These days the island is known as Newfoundland.  But if you spend time in any Newfoundland kitchen you will quickly discover that it is still the land of dried codfish.  And one of the most traditional ways of preparing that fish is to make fishcakes.

Little cubes of pork fat have been sautéed in a pan.  A cup of chopped onion is added.  A pinch of sage goes in. A few minutes of cooking and the pan comes off the heat.  A pound of dried cod has been soaked in water overnight and now Steve is flaking it into small pieces.  If dried cod is not available, you can poach fresh cod and then let it dry out for ten minutes.  It should flake up pretty much the same way as the soaked dried cod.  When all the cod has been broken up into small pieces, the onions are added.  Then three pounds of boiled potatoes are passed through a ricer and into the bowl.  If you don’t have a ricer just mash the potatoes with a fork.  All that gets well mixed and then formed into little cakes that are about three inches in diameter and about an inch thick.  Steve works on a floured surface and uses a spatula to make the job easier.  Nice technique.  Looks like the Wayne Gretzky school of fishcake forming.  A little of the rendered pork fat gets heated in a sauté pan.  Now if rendered pork fat is not your thing, a little vegetable oil will do fine.  Then the fishcakes are cooked for five minutes on each side or until they have a golden crust.

BURT WOLF:  If I stand any closer to this fire, I’m gonna have a little golden crust of my own!

Onto the serving plate... a little fresh dill... a touch of tomato sauce, and they’re ready to serve.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the most traditional meals in Newfoundland is called a boil-up.  A big pot of water is brought to a boil; carrots, cabbage, potatoes and other vegetables are thrown in... plus the catch of the day.  And if there wasn’t much of a catch that day, you’d toss in some salt meat.  A very efficient use of the steam coming up was to steam a pudding for dessert.  The most traditional pudding is called a “Figgy Duff.”  And any day on which a figgy duff was served was known as a “duff day” -- a very duff day.

Here’s how it’s made.  First Steve puts on a pair of gloves because it’s all made by hand and he’s a neat guy.  Three cups of bread crumbs go into a mixing bowl... followed by three-quarters of a cup of all-purpose flour.  Then one and a half cups of raisins are mixed in.  One and half teaspoons of ground nutmeg are added... and one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon.  The rising agent is one and a quarter teaspoons of baking powder.  Then a pinch of salt and more mixing.  The liquid ingredients are one cup of dark molasses... a half cup of melted butter... a quarter of a cup of water, and finally an optional quarter cup of dark rum.  If you’re not using rum just add a little more water.  Then there is much mixing and a change of gloves.  The dough is transferred into a plastic bag...

BURT WOLF:  Is this a special kind of bag?

STEVE WATSON:  It is for our operation, but in the home you could just use, like, the Baggies...

BURT WOLF:  Oh, okay.

STEVE WATSON:  The Ziploc Baggies will be more than adequate.

...and the plastic bag goes into a cloth bag.  But you can just wrap it in a bit of toweling.  Twist it tight and tie it off at the top.  Then it’s into the pot of boiling water.  This particular pot is also boiling our supper. An hour and a half later the bag comes out, the pudding is unwrapped... and it’s ready to serve.  A slice of the duff goes onto a serving plate... a bit of whipped cream... strawberries... mint leaves... maple syrup and it’s a figgy duffy day.

It was easy to learn about the food of Newfoundland; like the people here, their recipes are very straightforward.  Their humor, on the other hand, took a little bit of work, but it was well worth it.  Newfies, as the locals are sometimes called, have a great sense of humor and they love to display it.  Amy House is a master of the craft and she travels throughout the province demonstrating her vision of the Newfoundland character.

BURT WOLF:   What’s the food like in St. John’s?

“MAGUERITE MacGILLICUDDY”:  Oh, that’s what’s good.  Now you don’t get nothing exotic around here, you know.  My husband Ramsey, eh?  You know, you can’t cook nothing exotic in my house.  He’s strictly a meat and potatoes man, eh?  Like the other day, I tried something new, gave him crushed pineapple for dessert.  He said, “Whoever chewed that up can eat it.”  Oh yeah!  Like we live on salt beef and cabbage and stuff like that around here, right?  You know?  We don’t go for that vegetarian stuff -- there’s no one down here that’s orgasmic.  You know, yeah.  Well, you see, Newfoundlanders, you know, like, people in across Canada and down to States, you know, they think we’re slow, eh?  But we’re not slow, down here; we got one up on you really, you know.  Like, we’re known as being unemployed, you know, but we’re not unemployed!  Don’t talk so loose, my son!  Listen, we come here years ago -- five hundred years ago -- the ocean was full of fish, the woods was full of wood, we were full of hunting, we had moose and bison... There’s nothing left to hunt, there’s nothing left to cut down, there’s not a fish left out in the ocean... Look!  We’re not lazy!  We’re not unemployed!  There’s no work in Newfoundland, ‘cause all the work is done!  Look, we got to go up to the mainland now, do their work for them, and then we’re going into the out migration down to the States.  We’ll be down to do your work for you in about 2001.  Yeah, yeah...

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  There’s one more bit of information I’d like to give you about the unique aspects of this place, and that’s a word about the time in Newfoundland.  Now, normally as you travel around the world through one time zone to another, you travel in increments of one hour.  But that’s not the case here.  When you travel from east coast time to Newfoundland time, you travel in an increment of an hour and a half.  And the people here love that.  They feel that if at some point in the future the world comes to an end, it will end here a half hour later.  And until that time, I hope you will continue to join me as I travel around the world looking at the ORIGINS of the things that surround us.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: Charlevoix, Quebec - #118

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

About three hundred miles east of Montreal, on the north bank of the St. Lawrence River, is the Canadian region of Charlevoix.  And for almost two hundred years it has been locked in an epic struggle.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  A struggle to find a balance between its love of traditional rural values and the demands of a modern industrial society.  The questions are clear.  Can a thousand years of French peasant tradition defend itself against two hundred years of the English industrial revolution?

Will the baguette be freshly baked in a wood-burning stove or defrosted in a microwave?  Could cabernet give way to Coca-Cola?  Can French passion be replaced by a stiff upper lip?  Stay tuned as this majestic battle unfolds along the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

The first European to explore the area was Jacques Cartier, who sailed through in 1535.  He was working for the king of France and searching the northern waters of America for a new route to the riches of the Far East -- the same route that Columbus did not find for the King of Spain while searching in the south.

During the early 1600s France decided to take control of this area and they sent Samuel Champlain over to check things out.  While Champlain was sailing up the St. Lawrence he tried to anchor here and was very unhappy with the little cove he found.  The water dried up at low tide, which would leave a ship stranded.  Not good.  So he marked the area on his charts with the words malle baye, which means “bad bay.”  For the next three hundred years the place was known as La Malbaie.  But it seems unfair to be named after your least attractive feature.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Bad bay or not, the place became a trading post for furs, a district for lumbering and a great spot for fishing.  It was a French colony in the New World with great promise, but the incompetent officials in Paris believed that a colony existed only for the benefits of the mother country, and the area’s natural attributes were ignored.  A little like my family wanting me to be a doctor when it was clear my skills were as a painter.  But when the French screwed it up with North America, it was on a much larger scale.

England, however, had a better grip on the economics of the situation and attacked the French colonies in Canada.  In 1759, General Wolfe, who was not one of my ancestors, stormed the cliffs of Quebec and took control of Canada on behalf of the King of England.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  At the end of the war, each British soldier was offered a grant of property here in Canada.  It was a great way to set up a landed gentry that would be loyal to the King of England.  Two officers, both of Scottish decent, and loyal friends in combat, decided to take their property here at La Malbaie.

One was Captain John Nairne, who clearly could have gotten work as a George Washington lookalike.  The other was Ensign Malcolm Fraser.  These retired officers and a small group of demobilized soldiers joined the French peasants who were already here, and they gave the region a unique character.  Within one generation the Scots were speaking French.

After New France surrendered to England, La Malbaie became prosperous by supplying lumber and foodstuffs to the growing city of Quebec.

It also attracted a small group of tourists who were interested in the charms of unspoiled nature and good fishing.  And while we’re going back to nature, how about making the trip in a floating palace -- a steamer that offered the most luxurious accommodations possible... elegance... refinement... grandeur.  These folks liked a lot of nurture in their nature.

A relaxing view of the St. Lawrence... a little stream for fishing... lots of tall trees in the background... A big summer house filled with your friends and family... Ah yes -- nature.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Up to this point, as I mentioned, the area was known as La Malbaie but, you know, you really can’t have rich people going off for their summer vacation to a spot called “the bad bay,” so the government took this magic moment to rename the area.  And they named it after the first man to take a genuine interest in the history of the French colonies in North America.  It was a Jesuit priest named Francois-Xavier de Charlevoix.  And that is how Charlevoix got its name.

The steamship companies that brought people up and back between Charlevoix and Quebec City realized that they could increase their business by building hotels.  And in 1899 the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company put up the Manoir Richelieu.  The architecture was monumental.  The setting was magnificent.  There was a saltwater pool.  Tasteful decorations.  The Manoir orchestra played each afternoon.  The management tried to offer every possible service to their distinguished clientele.

 The Manoir Richelieu is still here and trying to do what it has done from the beginning.  And much of the original artwork is still here and very interesting.  Above the entranceway is a large painting of Queen Isabella listening to Christopher Columbus make his report after the voyage of 1492.  It depicts the dramatic moment when Columbus described the route that took him from Spain to the New World.  “Right, left, right, then straight for three thousand miles.”

Columbus was a lucky guy, and so are many of the guests at the Manoir.  Directly across the road from the front entrance is the Charlevoix Casino.  You can pass a few moments at the slot machines... play a little blackjack... or take a turn on the roulette wheel.  You’ll be pleased to know that any money that you leave behind will be spent on good works by the government, who owns the facility.

Charlevoix has remained an important resort area, and there are many citizens who are dedicated to maintaining its heritage and making it accessible to everyone.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Charlevoix, like many communities around the world, would like to preserve the craft-skills that are a part of its tradition, expand support for its museums, and increase tourism.  Now, on the surface that sounds like three different problems that would require three different solutions, but Charlevoix has come up with a program that handles all three, and at the same time.

It’s called an Economuseum, and it is a marriage between a museum and a small business -- a small business that is based on a craft that is traditional for the area and has the ability to make the entire operation financially independent.  The Saint-Gilles papermakers are a good example of this new form.

Part of the building is a papermaking facility that uses 17th century techniques.  Sheets of pressed cotton are washed, chopped, and pounded into pulp.  The fibers are broken up to the point where they remain suspended in water, forming a kind of soup called “half stuff.”  The half stuff is transferred into a tub that has a mixer on one side.  At this point the papermaker adds flower petals.  The flowers will give each piece of paper an individual pattern.  A wooden frame covered with a metal mesh, like a screen, is dipped into the soup.  As the frame is lifted out it becomes coated with a thin film of the water-fiber mixture.  The frame is shaken to spread the fibers evenly and let the water drain out.  This sheet of newly-formed paper is removed from the frame and placed between two sheets of felt.  A number of paper and felt sandwiches are piled together and placed into a press where they are subjected to enormous pressure, which squeezes out the remaining water.  Then the felt is removed and the sheets are pressed again to improve the surface.  After that they are hung up to dry.

The paper is then made into salable products: writing sheets and envelopes... blank books... flowers... note papers... graphics... all of which are sold in a shop on the other side of the building.

In the middle of the structure is a museum dedicated to the art of papermaking.

And this is not the only Economuseum in the neighborhood.  There are more than two dozen nearby and each covers a different craft that needs to be preserved.  Right across the street from the papermaker is the Economuseum that builds boats the way they have been made here for hundreds of years.  For folks on a more modest budget they build models of the same vessels.  And because Economuseums must plan everything based on generating their own financing, they are very realistic about what they can do.  From the design of the building, to the objects they offer for sale, there’s no room for delusions of grandeur.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Economuseums have demonstrated their ability to provide permanent employment in a realistic business environment, to preserve the craft traditions of the region, to educate the public and to attract tourists.  And surprisingly, they have been able to do all of this with funds that they generate completely from their own activities.

The Economuseums are just one example of the craftwork of Charlevoix.  Standing between the papermakers and the shipbuilders is the workshop of the santon artists.

Santons are small terra-cotta figures that depict traditional aspects of French country living, community folklore, and religious beliefs.  There are over a hundred different pieces in the collection.  The art started centuries ago in Europe with the production of Nativity scenes that included a manger, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and the three wise men.  Eventually people and buildings from the towns were added -- a chapel, a windmill, farmers, loggers, cooks, spinners.  The sculptors tried to include most of the local characters.  They even have a television reporter waiting in the cold for his camera crew.

Each figurine starts as a small sculpture which is used to make a mold.  When the mold is ready, the clay is pressed into one side of the form.  Then the back side of the mold is set in place.  The clay rests in the mold for about ten minutes, during which it loses some of its moisture.  Then the mold is opened and the artist completes the detailing of the form.  After that the sculpture is fired in a kiln.  The kiln temperature rises to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and bakes and hardens the clay for ten to twelve hours.  When the figurines come out of the kiln the clay has turned to terra-cotta.  It cools down and goes off to the painters.  This is a meticulous hand process that represents a craft that has been part of French country life for hundreds of years -- and the artists are determined to preserve it.

Eighty-five percent of the people living in Charlevoix can trace their heritage back to France, a heritage that they honor in many ways -- especially when it comes to food.  To make their point they have set up a program called La Route des Saveurs, which could be translated loosely as “the road of the good eaters.”  It’s a partnership between a group of restaurants and a group of food producers. And their objective is to take foods that are grown in Charlevoix and use them to prepare recipes in traditional ways -- and the older the tradition, the better.

This is the Moulin Banal.  The word banal comes from banalites, which is an ancient grain tax that the lord of the land would levy on his tenant farmers who were legally obligated to grind their wheat at the lord’s mill.  It is a water-powered mill that grinds flour the way water-powered mills have been grinding flour for hundreds of years.  A stream is dammed to build up a supply of waterpower -- power that you can use when you need it.  The pond deals with water in the same way a battery handles electricity.  When the miller wants to mill he opens the gates and lets the water hit the waterwheel.  The wheel turns and in turn, turns a set of belts that power the equipment in the mill.  The miller empties a sack of wheat into the system.  It’s sifted to take out any rocks or twigs that have come along from the field.  Then the wheat is pulled up above the millstones and slowly fed between them.  The stones rub against each other and in the process grind the wheat between them.  The ground wheat is sorted by size, bagged and sent off to the baker.  And if you think the miller is traditional, wait ‘til you see the baker.

Every morning at 7:30, rain or shine, hot or cold, Herve Gobeil gets up, goes out to the oven behind his shop, chops his wood, puts the logs in the oven, and starts the fire.  On special occasions, like the visit of a television crew, he wears the uniform of a medieval baker.  By 8:15 the walls of this ancient oven are sufficiently hot to start the baking.  The flame is gone and the hot coals have been removed.  The loaves of bread go in.  Anthropologists believe that this oven design goes back to the Greeks of 600 BC.  The roof of the oven curves up as it pulls away from the door, which causes the hot air inside to circulate around the bread.  That results in a more even heat and a richer surface on the loaf.

As Herve’s breads come out of the oven they give off a mouth-watering perfume.  They are crusty, coarse and dense.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  On one side of the relationship between the food producers and restaurants you have millers, fruit and vegetable growers, cheesemakers, honey gatherers, and about a dozen other businesses that use techniques that go back for hundreds of years.  On the restaurant side you have a group of what are called Auberge.  An Auberge is traditionally a restaurant in the countryside, what we might call a “French country inn.”  Some of them are very simple, and some of them are very sophisticated.

But either way, when they are on “the road of the good eaters,” their menu includes dishes that are made with products produced by craftsmen working with the traditional techniques of this region.

The Auberge des Peuplier was the first country inn in the region.  Peuplier means “poplar tree,” and the two poplars are right out in front.  You can stop in and taste a local fish called “omble.”  It’s served in alternative slices -- one smoked, the next sautéed.  The garnish is made from turnips.

Next stop is the Auberge des Trois Canard.  I had my first meal here in 1990 and the place keeps getting better.  The original owners were three English doctors, and they called the place “The Three Docs.”  When a Frenchmen purchased it he thought it had been called “The Three Ducks” -- so he translated the name into French as the “Trois Canards,” which means “the three ducks.”  If you like, the chef will present you with a starting plate consisting of smoked local salmon, smoked eel, a local whitefish, local mushrooms, and a sauce flavored with saffron.

Then there’s the Auberge La Pinsonniere.  It’s a member of the Relais Chateaux and has won a number of awards for its cooking.  One of the signature dishes is a trilogy of veal: the liver, the sweetbreads, and a slice of loin.

Finally there is the Auberge de Falaise, which means “the cliff.”  And this particular cliff was the favorite vacation spot for American tourists during the 1800s.  Great views outside... good food inside.  Spiced local lamb on the bone, served with a cylinder of potatoes mixed with local bacon... a pasta flavored and colored with squid ink and saffron and garnished with sea parsley.

Before we leave “the road of the good eaters,” I thought we should do a little cooking with Henry Meesen, who’s the executive chef at the Manoir Richelieu.  Today he is preparing a popular Canadian fish called Arctic Char, but the recipe will work just as well with skinless, boneless pieces of salmon.

Henry starts by carefully cleaning and cutting three leeks into small pieces.  Two tablespoons of olive oil are heated in a sauté pan.  The leeks go in, with a little salt and pepper.  They’re sautéed for two minutes, at which point they are turned out into a bowl to cool.  One-ounce pieces of fish are sautéed in a little oil for about a minute on each side.

A six-inch disc of pastry dough is set on a paper-lined pie plate.  A couple of tablespoons of the leeks go onto the dough.  A layer of half the fish goes onto the leeks.  Then a second layer of leeks and a second layer of fish.  An egg wash is painted over everything and a top disc of dough goes on and is pressed down around the edges with a fork.  A pizza cutter is used to trim the dough.  Then another bit of painting with the egg wash.  A little decoration is cut onto the dough and it’s into the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours -- but it can actually be held in the refrigerator for up to twenty-four hours.

HENRY MEESEN:  Puff pastry cooks very good at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In these ovens it should be in the middle, and around the middle, so it cooks evenly from the top to the bottom.  Twenty minutes approximately.

A sauce is made by sautéing two tablespoons of shallots, a half cup of white wine, the juice of three oranges and a cup of chicken stock.  Plus a little beurre manie, which is a mixture of half butter and half flour that will thicken the sauce.  A little salt, a little sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Five minutes of cooking and the sauce goes onto the serving plate, followed by the fish in the pastry and a garnish of cranberries and asparagus tips.

Henry’s second recipe is for a red pepper soup served in a red pepper.  Two tablespoons of oil are heated in a large pan.  As soon as the oil is hot he sautés a cup worth of chopped onions.  Then in go six sweet potatoes that have been peeled and sliced into small chunks.  Seven red peppers are cored, cleaned, sliced and placed into the pan.  A few minutes of stirring and cooking and in go six cups of chicken stock.  A sprig of thyme and a bay leaf are added and a cover goes on.  Thirty minutes of simmering and the vegetable solids are strained away from the stock.  The vegetables go into a blender and are turned into a puree.  You can add a little of the stock to get things started.  Then the vegetables are returned to the pot along with the stock and heated.  That’s the soup, and it’s served in a red pepper.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Clearly, Charlevoix’s French heritage places a stress on good food.  But I wouldn’t want you to think that everything you’re going to get to eat here is serious stuff.  Charlevoix, like just about every other place in the world, has a series of down-home foods that are thought of as the “local stuff.”  And, as usual, there is a particular place with a reputation for preparing those foods authentically.

Allow me to present Chez Chantal.  Conveniently located next to the train tracks and directly in front of the docks.  In the early 1900s, a Native American woman used the building to sell baskets to tourists.  Wishing to expand her product group, she began serving soup to the local dock workers and ice cream to the tourists.

In 1987, Simon Bouchard saw the potential of the food division and purchased the building.  He dropped the basket line and concentrated on the snack food.  Today Simon and his family run the business and it has become renowned among local gastronomes for two of the great lunch-counter dishes of Quebec.  The first is poutine -- crisp French fried potatoes that have just been made from scratch, carefully blended with small curds of soft, locally-made farm cheese, then bathed in a rich gravy and elegantly presented in a handy container that you can even take with you.

The second is guedille -- strips of newly-harvested lettuce, chucks of locally-grown ripe tomatoes, ribbons of tender baked chicken, and all blended with a velvety mayonnaise and served in a delicately-toasted hot dog bun.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  But let me tell you, this food  tastes great and it will stand up to any snack food anywhere in the world.  Simon Bouchard -- keep up the good work.

And before we leave Charlevoix, I would like to show you a few more good works -- works by Mother Nature, which is what originally attracted visitors to the region.

You can take a two-hour boat trip up the Saguenay Fjord, which cuts north from the St. Lawrence River.

You can hike and camp in the High Gorge Park.

You can go whale watching on the St. Lawrence, where six species of whales take up residence from late May to late October.

Charlevoix is located in the Canadian Shield, which is the oldest land formation on our planet.  The landscape is so beautiful that the area has been designated by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve -- and it’s all easy to see.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Quite a place.  The first European settlers to come here were self-sufficient craftsmen and craftswomen, who were pretty much capable of making anything they wanted, and very proud of their history as French country peasants.  The second group to come along were from Scotland, equally proud and independent.  And it is the work of these two groups in preserving their history, their traditions and their origins that makes today’s Charlevoix so interesting to visit.  And I hope this has all been interesting for you and that you will join us next time as we travel around the world looking at the ORIGINS of some of the things that surround us.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: The Yukon Territory - #101

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

The legend of El Dorado tells of a land filled with gold where men find their fortunes.  In 1896, part of the Canadian Yukon became known as El Dorado, and for some people it delivered a fortune in gold.  It’s just to the east of the town of Dawson and it was home to some of the richest strikes during the great Klondike gold rush.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The gold is still here, though it’s not as easy to get to as it was about a hundred years ago. Though it really wasn’t so easy to get to even then. The town of Dawson that was built with that gold is still here, and it’s easier to get to than ever. At the height of the gold rush 16,000 people lived in Dawson and 20,000 people lived in the creeks surrounding it.

During the summer of 1898 Dawson was in some ways the center of the world.  Gold poured into town with the prospectors who were working in the nearby creeks.  And stories about the wild life in Dawson poured out to the rest of the world.  There were very few actual miners among the stampeders who rushed here to find gold.  Most of them were white-collar workers who thought they saw a chance to change their lives for the better.  The trip to Dawson had been an agony and the work in the gold creeks was exhausting.  When someone was lucky enough to get his hands on enough gold to head into town and live it up... he did.  When they really struck it rich there was no end to their excess.  A miner by the name of Johansen purchased a dance hall queen for her weight in gold.  Unfortunately, she came with a very limited warranty and soon returned to her original boyfriend.  Of course, she did retain poor Johansen’s gold.  Even then it was important to check the fine print in a purchase agreement.

The town was wild, but not lawless.  The mounties saw to that.  During that amazing year of madness there were no murders and no major thefts.

Today the population of Dawson is about two thousand.  But it is very much the way it was physically during the days of the gold rush.  The sidewalks on the main streets are made from wooden boards.  The roadways are unpaved and hard-packed gravel.  This particular gravel comes from the creek beds and is gold-bearing.  So if you wanted to say that the streets of Dawson were paved with gold, there’d be a technical truth to your statement.

GLENDA BOLT:  Okay, one of the buildings that we’re just coming up on, this green one here, this is Madame Tromblay’s store.  Now, Madame Tromblay came over the Chilkoot trail with her husband on their honeymoon.  Nice guy.  I guess everything must’ve been booked for Hawaii.

Glenda Bolt is a guide for the Klondike National Historic Sites of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

GLENDA BOLT:  When you think that they’re almost one hundred years old, these buildings are doing quite well.  These are, in fact, excellent examples of turn-of-the-century construction.  You see, during the Klondike gold rush the prospectors and early day miners didn’t know about permafrost.  That’s permanently frozen ground left over from the last ice age.  So when they came into this area, they took green timbers, first mistake, and hastily constructed their buildings and their shelters.  But what they didn’t know is as they heated these buildings, they were melting the ground underneath them that had never ever been melted.  And it’s like black Jell-O, it’s ooze and the buildings would sink down and then the weather would change and the building would heave up.  And it would sink and heave and sink and heave until you get to the present condition that a lot of Dawson buildings remain today.

BURT WOLF:  It’s a real fixer-upper...

GLENDA BOLT:  Yeah, bring your checkbook.  Now you’ll see the natural scar in the hillside here...

BURT WOLF:  Yeah...

GLENDA BOLT:  That’s called Moose Hide Slide, and now a lot of the early prospectors or explorers like Shwatka, when they were traveling down the mighty Yukon River, they made note of this scar in their notes -- and little did they know how close they were to a major gold discovery.  Now, you might be wondering, why is that Moose Hide?

BURT WOLF:  Why is that Moose Hide?

GLENDA BOLT:  Tilt your head a little bit and you can easily see that it looks like a moose’s hide that is stretched out for tanning. 



GLENDA BOLT:  I’ve been looking at this thing ten years,  I’ve never seen it.  Nevertheless, they still call it Moose Hide.

BURT WOLF:  Right.  Well, okay maybe I’m not tilting enough.

GLENDA BOLT:  You gotta squint.

BURT WOLF:  Actually, you see as soon as you close your eyes you can see it perfectly.  It’s an intense squint.  So tell me more.

GLENDA BOLT:  How about the Palace Grand Theater?  Did you get an opportunity to go into the theater?


GLENDA BOLT:  Oh, it’s a great building.  It was originally built in 1899 by a wild west performer named Arizona Charlie Meadows and his charming wife May Melbourne, a seasoned performer in her own right.  They were able to amass enough money, enough fortune from the investments in the gold fields to be able to build the largest, most grand frontier opera theater in the north.  And the type of show that they would put on there is a vaudeville, variety show, and you might think that performers who came here were, in fact, at the end of their career or perhaps third- or second-rate, but it’s not so.  In fact people took it as their opportunity to come to the Klondike, to the Paris of the North and perform.  There was one woman who took it as her big opportunity, she came from Philadelphia, she loved it.  She could wear shorter skirts and sing bawdy songs and have a little fun.

            At night the dancing and gambling still goes on at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.   The profits, however, all go to support the charitable and public works of the community.

For the folks rushing to the gold, Dawson was a spot were they stopped to dry their socks after getting through the Whitehorse rapids... that is, if they had any socks left.  Today Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory and has a population of about 23,000.

Development in the Whitehorse area began in 1897.  Twenty-five thousand people were on their way to the Klondike.  The most dangerous part of the trip was the passage through the Whitehorse rapids.  The area got its name because the standing waves on the rapids reminded people of the mane on a white horse.  The town of Whitehorse developed as a resting place for those who survived the passage.  Whitehorse outlived the gold rush because in 1900, copper mines were discovered.  And it got a third lease on life when it became a transportation hub for the United States Army during the second World War.  Many of the original buildings are still in place.

This structure is known as the Whitehorse three-story skyscraper.  It was built in 1947, when every hotel room in Whitehorse was packed with military personnel.  The shortage of accommodations led 70-year-old Martin Berrigan to construct a series of multi-story log houses which have been continuously rented since their completion.

In 1900, the “Apostle of the North,” Bishop William C. Bompas, became the first resident Anglican priest in Whitehorse.  The log church and rectory was the home of their ministry, and in use until 1960.  The poet Robert W. Service was the secretary to the vestry, and his minute books are on display.

David Neufeld is a historian with Parks Canada, and a specialist on the Klondike gold rush.  He’s based in Whitehorse, and he’s put together a group of photographs that were taken during the period.  They show us how people really ate on the Chilkoot Trail.

DAVID NEUFELD:  What’s incredible about the whole experience of the gold rush is how much stuff came up.  They had bananas come in from Latin America, or South America.  They were brought up in refrigerator ships and dropped off and then packed over the trail, and you can buy fresh fruit into the interior of what’s this wilderness area.  Now, to keep these guys supplied and happy, you needed good meals, and fresh meat was something that was difficult to get.  Wild game was gone.  Soon as these 30,000 stampeders showed up the bear, moose, and even the fish tended to disappear.  Either they got picked off right away or they just went back in the bush.  So they brought everything with them and what we’ve got here is a horse pack train heading over the trail that is crated up with live turkeys.  And there was also herds of cattle that were brought in and herds of sheep that were stampeded over the trail as well.

BURT WOLF:   So these guys were really in business.  They were bringing things up to sell to the prospectors.  It was kind of like a moveable mall.


BURT WOLF:   And that was common, I gather.

DAVID NEUFELD:  There is quite a few people who saw this as a business venture, you know, supplying the gold rush miners and everybody else who was going up.  There was mounties, there was government administrators, there was miners, and then there was the other storekeepers.

BURT WOLF:  ‘Cause we only see these pictures of everybody starving on the Chilkoot, but that wasn’t completely true.

DAVID NEUFELD:  Most of them were pretty well fed, certainly they were well equipped.

BURT WOLF:  Nice little town...

DAVID NEUFELD:  Yeah, this is Bennett, British Columbia, and Bennett’s right at the end of the Chilkoot Pass.  And what’s interesting, I guess, is all the restaurants that you can see coming down the street here.  This one here, the Arctic Restaurant, we have some reviews of that and it was run by Donald Trump’s grandfather.

BURT WOLF:  Wait, wait, wait...The Arctic Restaurant and Hotel was owned by Donald Trump’s grandfather?

DAVID NEUFELD:  Grandfather.  Yeah, he came up here with a partner and they ran this restaurant here.

BURT WOLF:  I love that!

DAVID NEUFELD:  Well, it gets even better.  When -- the town tended to close down when the railway went through, this kind of disappeared, nobody came on the  trail, so they took the restaurant, and put it on a barge and floated it over to the railway and then set it up again for another couple of years.

BURT WOLF:  So Donald comes by his entrepreneurship quite honestly.

DAVID NEUFELD:  Quite honestly, yeah...It’s in the family.

One of the most important methods of transportation in the Yukon Territory was the riverboat.  The most famous of these was the S.S. Klondike.  Today it’s been restored as a museum and sits at the side of the river in Whitehorse.

ODETTE LLOYD:  The S.S. Klondike was originally built here in Whitehorse in 1929 and she worked on the Yukon River mainly between here and Dawson City.  Now this was the biggest freight ship that ever operated here in the Yukon, which was owned and operated by a company called the B.Y.N., which is the British Yukon Navigation Company.  And the name S.S. Klondike, the S.S. actually stands for steam ship, so everything was powered by steam.  At this end of the boiler there’s a door that opens up, and this opens into the fire pit.  So standing on some boards where we’ve got the walkway now there’d always be one person on duty.  He was called the fire man and his job was just to keep stoking the fire.  Now the Klondike would burn on average between about a cord and a cord and a half of wood an hour.  Now one cord of wood is a measurement, it’s four feet, by four feet by eight.  So this pile here, it’s actually a little bit closer to a cord and a half of wood.  This just gives you an idea of how much they needed to burn for one hour with the ship out on the river...


ODETTE LLOYD:  What that actually meant for the fire man was that he had to throw this door open, pitch one of those logs in, and close it just about once every thirty seconds. 

BURT WOLF:  A log like this?

ODETTE LLOYD:  Well this one here, it would have been cut the same length,  four feet like this, but it probably would have been split in two.  Another part of the deck hand’s job was to be constantly running all that wood forward to the boiler so they wouldn’t run out.  So it was what you might, uh, consider a demanding job physically, and that’s why the fire man only had to work a four hour shift, then he’d have eight hours off while everybody else in the crew was working twelve hours on and twelve hours off...

BURT WOLF:  Must’ve been in great shape.

ODETTE LLOYD:  Nice burly strong men.  A lot of people would call this kind of boiler a locomotive-style boiler ‘cause it’s the same kind you’ll find on most steam trains.  We usually call it a fire tube boiler, though, and that’s ‘cause inside here you’ve got two hundred and forty-two of those fire tubes.  So what was happening inside the boiler here is the fire was getting sucked down through those tubes and that heats the water.  All the water’s in the big cylinder there, around and in between all those tubes, and then of course when you heat water enough you get steam.  And that meant that after every other trip they had to clean this whole thing out.  First of all, you’d have to run out and find the most recently hired deck hand, he’s like the lowest guy on the totem pole, and he would dress himself up in five or six layers of clothing, maybe tie some wet rags around his head, he’d throw a board across the pump in here and then he’d have to crawl right into the boiler.  He’d have big wire brushes to punch out all those tubes and buckets to clean the sump and the pit at the other end.  His buddies would stand out here and they’d throw water on him to keep him cool.  After a minute or two, he was allowed to crawl back out and catch his breath, take a moment to cool down.  Then he’d have to get right back in and keep working until it was done.  It might take him up to about six hours and by the time he finished his board was smokin’ and red hot and he was due for a trip into town. 

Okay, so all the cargo that we’re seeing down here right now, this is all a pretty good example of what the Klondike would have carried from Whitehorse into Dawson City on the first run of the year, because of course, before we had highways in the north Dawson was really isolated over the winter.  So in the summer when your first steamboat made it through it would always bring in, first of all, a big load of liquor, then the food, and then the other supplies.  Now, one thing on board too that I always like to show to people -- it’s right up here, and we’ve got an order of gasoline on the ship right now... and this really shouldn’t be here.  You see, in the Yukon, it’s actually against the law for a ship that carries passengers on board to be carrying anything flammable or explosive in their cargo hold.  But when it came to the British Yukon Navigation Company, they really didn’t like to lose any money, whether it was on the passenger tickets they could sell or on the cargo they could move.  So they devised a system to get around the law.  Now, when they had something like this to move, they’d load onto the ship anyway.  It might be a gasoline or empty oil barrels.  They might even have kegs of gunpowder down here.  They’d load it on to the ship and then sell tickets to all the passengers anyway, but then they’d give each passenger one dollar back, they would say “This is your salary, for this trip you are part of the crew.”

BURT WOLF:  What a cheap shot!

ODETTE LLOYD:  So we got a little change of scenery up here.  These are the passenger decks.

BURT WOLF:  The wheel house.

ODETTE LLOYD:  So right in here of course this is the control center for the whole ship.  Incidentally, we are now at the top of the tallest building in Whitehorse.  Now, in here a couple of things you can see,  they have the top end of the telegraph system up here, so that’s the handle the master used to send the orders down to the engine room.  Now, you’ll notice in here, too, this is one of the only places on the ship where they’ve got heating.  When the S.S. Klondike was out on the river, they actually kept all these windows open all the way around so you could hear everything happening around you.  So that’s also what the canvas was for here, just a little wind dodger helps to keep the wind and the bugs out of your teeth when you’re steering the ship.  Now, my personal very favorite thing on the entire S.S. Klondike is also up here in the wheel house.  Just down in the corner there, we’ve got a beautiful brass compass.  Now, navigational law again says that every ship must have a compass in the wheel house, right?  But if you think about that, if you’re actually gettin’ lost going up and down a river, I’m sure you’ve probably got bigger problems to worry about.

When the glaciers of the last ice age passed through Canada about 10,000 years ago, they missed a small pocket of the Yukon -- and that has given this part of the territory a somewhat unique geography.  The absence of the glaciers allowed the gold in the earth to concentrate.

The glacier-free zone also had an effect on the rivers.  Most of the northern rivers of Canada, having had a previous encounter with a glacier, ended up with either deep canyon walls, whitewater rapids, or vertical waterfalls.

But that is not the case for most of the Yukon River.  Most of the Yukon, having slipped through the icy fingers of the glaciers, has none of that rough stuff; it flows peacefully through its valley.  Which makes it a perfect place for rafting, canoeing and fishing.  There are still large runs of salmon that swim up thousands of miles from the Pacific Ocean... and all for love.

The soil is rich and sustains a wide variety of plants, which in turn support an equally wide variety of animals.

In the end, the great treasure of the Yukon may be its natural beauty, and that beauty’s accessibility to the tourist.  And one way into that beauty is by highway.  The roads of the Yukon are perfect for viewing the local wildlife.  Animals roam free in their natural and unspoiled habitat.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There are major animal migrations in the Yukon which change the wildlife population throughout the year.  A hundred and sixty thousand caribou winter here, then they pop across the border to Alaska to calve. Tens of thousands of birds migrate over the area.  Waterfowl include ducks and geese, loons and swans.  The official bird of the Yukon is the raven; very important from a spiritual and cultural point of view for the people of the First Nations.  As you drive along the highway, you’ll come to signs like this; they’re a reminder to get out of your car and take your camera and get a picture of the wildlife. . . . Sorry... wrong kind of wildlife.  Maybe we’ll just go down the road and take a look at the gastronomic life.

This is a little cafe called The Chocolate Claim.  It was started by a woman named Jose Janssen, who came here from Holland in 1974.  She heard The Call Of The Wild.  When she got here she started earning a living by baking muffins in her home kitchen and selling them door-to-door.  Today she owns one of the most respected bakeries in the territory.

JOSE JANSSEN: Today we’re going to make triple berry muffins.

BURT WOLF:  Triple berry muffins!  Let’s do it!

JOSE JANSSEN:  Excellent.  Okay, we’ve got two and a half cups of eggs...

BURT WOLF:  How many is that like in real eggs?

JOSE JANSSEN:  In real eggs?  That’s about a dozen eggs...


JOSE JANSSEN:  All right.  And then we’re going to have two and a half cups of brown sugar.


JOSE JANSSEN:  Okay, we’re going to mix the brown sugar with the eggs until that’s all together.  Nice and frothy, thick.  Now we’re going to add two cups of oil.  Vegetable oil will be just fine.  Want to help me?

BURT WOLF:  Sure, why not.

JOSE JANSSEN:  Okay, why don’t you pour in the oil...

BURT WOLF:  Okay...

JOSE JANSSEN:  All right, there we go...

BURT WOLF:  Just one shot...everything in at one --

 JOSE JANSSEN:  Excellent.  Okay, now we’re gonna add two cups of milk.  Excellent.  Okay, next we’re going to add four cups of whole wheat flour and we’re going to move to a wooden spoon cause it’s gonna get thick now.  Okay?

BURT WOLF:  Alright.  A little bit at a time?

JOSE JANSSEN:  You may dump this in...

BURT WOLF:  Dump that in...

JOSE JANSSEN:  Dump the whole thing..

BURT WOLF:  You got it...

JOSE JANSSEN:  Excellent.

BURT WOLF:  White flour next?

JOSE JANSSEN:  Next we’re gonna do white flour, four cups of white flour, great.  We’re gonna mix this until it’s thick like mud.  You like mud?

BURT WOLF:  I love mud.

JOSE JANSSEN:  Then we mix in half a cup of bran.  We’ll go easy on bran.  Okay, got a hand on that bowl, baking powder, baking soda...

BURT WOLF:  You bet...

JOSE JANSSEN:  We mix that in.  Alright.  And we’re making this triple berry.  We’re gonna put in raspberries, blueberries and we got some cranberries. 

BURT WOLF:  How many?

JOSE JANSSEN:  About three quarter cup.  It’s thick enough now.  We’re gonna let it sit for about ten minutes to thicken it a little bit more.  And then we’ll scoop it in the muffin pans.

BURT WOLF:  We can do that.

JOSE JANSSEN:  There’s a little bit of batter left.  Okay, good, good...Okay, I’m gonna put a sprinkle of brown sugar on top of the muffins and that will give it a nice crust.  Right on.  Good...

BURT WOLF:  We’re ready...

JOSE JANSSEN:  Twenty-five minutes, three hundred and seventy-five degrees until they’re done.

BURT WOLF:  Let’s go have a coffee.

JOSE JANSSEN:  Hey, let’s go for coffee.

As I was driving along I noticed a small airstrip and a sign indicating that people landed here for cinnamon buns.  That was clearly enough to get my attention.  Surely one of the more unusual places where I have dined is the Braeburn Lodge on the highway between Whitehorse and Dawson.  Steve Watson is a biker turned baker, a man who went from the Harley to the hearth, from bikes to buns -- and he’s proud of it.

BURT WOLF:  Steve is famous for big food, right?  Big country, big people, big heart.  This is your standard cinnamon bun?

STEVE WATSON:  Yeah, it is.

BURT WOLF:  How much does that sell for?

STEVE WATSON:  Five dollars...

BURT WOLF:  You know how much it weighs?

STEVE WATSON:  No, not at all.

BURT WOLF:  Okay.  Why is the food so big?

STEVE WATSON:  It’s a tradition.  They get bigger in the summer when it’s warmer.

BURT WOLF:  Why is that?

STEVE WATSON:  They rise a bit more...

BURT WOLF:  Okay, and people come and eat this...it’s a standard, big...

STEVE WATSON:  They’re world-famous...

BURT WOLF:  ...cinnamon bun... I’ll bet they are... people fly in in their planes for this?


BURT WOLF:  That’s amazing.  I want to show you a hamburger.  Mike... let me see the hamburger that I ordered.  Okay.  Take a look at that.  That is your standard hamburger?


CUSTOMER 1:  You see, they got a little sign up there that says “if you can finish a hamburger deluxe, you get the next one free...”

BURT WOLF:  And did you?

CUSTOMER 1:  No, no way.

CUSTOMER 2:  We go through quite often to Whitehorse and we always stop here.

BURT WOLF:  I hear he makes a great chocolate soufflé.

CUSTOMER 3:  No.  No, he doesn’t.

CUSTOMER 4:  The soufflé, yes, is quite good.  But his foie gras is magnificent in port wine sauce...

CUSTOMER 5:  Well, that’s superb, but, uh, his Grand Marnier cake is probably his finest creation.

CUSTOMER 2:  Well, not like his chicken cordon bleu...

BURT WOLF:  Steve, that was really great.  Thanks a lot.  But, uh, before I go, what’s the real word on the chocolate soufflé?

STEVE WATSON:  You know Burt, they just don’t appreciate it.

BURT WOLF:  That’s life.  Take care.


BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Robert Service, the great poet of the Yukon gold rush wrote the following:

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,

A race that can’t stay still;

So they break the hearts of kith and kin,

And they roam the world at will.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Well... I am pretty sure that I’m not breaking the hearts of any kith or kin, but I am definitely roaming the world at will.  And I hope that you will roam along with me next time as we take a look at the ORIGINS of the things that surround us.  I’m Burt Wolf. 

Burt Wolf's Menu: Jasper - #111

Jasper.  The largest park in the Canadian Rockies and one of the most beautiful places in North America.   It shows you what’s been happening on earth for more than 600 million years.   Mountains that came out of the sea.  Glaciers that feed picture-perfect lakes.  An intimate look at wildlife... and a famous resort with some great cooking.  So join me in Jasper for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Archaeologists believe that native tribes have been hunting in western Canada for almost 12,000 years.  When the glaciers began pulling back to the north, and the area warmed up, that allowed plants and animals to return to the land.  Prehistoric groups of hunters and gatherers took advantage of the changed weather pattern and established temporary settlements during the summers.  The first Europeans into the area were French fur traders who came across Canada in search of a mountain pass - a mountain pass that would take them through the Rocky Mountains to the rich fur territory along the Pacific coast of Canada in the land that is now known as British Columbia. As part of western Canada's program to allow visitors to experience some of the area's history, there’s an organization called Rocky Mountain Voyageurs.  Knowledgeable guides like Art Jackson take you down the river in the same type of canoe that the fur traders used during the early 1800's.

ART JACKSON:  As we’re travelling down the river today, Burt, we’ll be going maybe, oh, upwards of twelve kilometers on the Athabasca River.  The Athabasca Valley is a very large valley, and it was basically a glacial-fed river, and it’s -- the Athabasca word means “reedy waters.”  We don’t see the reeds, of course, at this upper section, but we do lower down where the water’s quieter.  The Athabasca itself comes from the Athabasca Glacier, so it’s a glacial-fed river, and that’s why it has this creamy, milky colors to it.  It’s all glacial silt.

BURT WOLF:   That’s really just rock that was ground very fine by the movement of the glacier?

ART JACKSON:  Very, very fine rock.  And in fact, in some places you can actually hear the suspended particles tapping the bottom of the boat.  Sounds like static on the bottom of the canoe.  ... Well, the very first European that came into this area was in 1811, into the Jasper area.  His name was David Thompson.  And Thompson actually travelled up here in the winter of 1811, using the Athabasca River as his highway.  And the highway in summer was the water, and in the winter, of course, was the ice.  So he travelled over Athabasca Pass, which connects into the Columbia draining system, and from there, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  As you can see from the size of these canoes, Burt, they’re very, very stable in the, in the river.  The Voyageurs would have canoes in this area about twenty-six feet long.  They were called canoe d’nord, the “northern canoe.”  ... The mountains on our right here are from the front ranges, Burt, so they’re the youngest ranges of the Rockies.  And over here on our left, we’re starting to get a view of Pyramid Mountain.  Pyramid is part of the oldest rock in the park; over six hundred million years old is the rock, and the ranges were uplifted about a hundred and seventy million years ago.  Part of the main ranges of the Rockies.  You’ll also notice in front of Pyramid Mountain, we have these terraces, and they’re called “cane terraces,” which are deposits from the last Ice Age that came through this valley between 60,000 and 10,000 years ago.  All these terraces are basically made from the debris from the glaciers as they travelled down this valley. ... We have a kingfisher chasing a sparrow hawk, and vice versa, the sparrow hawk chasing the kingfisher.  That’s what they’re doing in the water over there.  Diving at him.  ... The Voyageurs were a bit superstitious of the mountains, though; they thought they contained spirits.  And if you notice on the ridge line on the far right, you’ll see the profile of a man staring up into the sky.  And the Voyageurs named that Roche ban homme, “The Man of Rock.”  So he’s just -- his profile is very distinct today, even in the morning haze.

BURT WOLF:   He’s taking a morning snooze.

ART JACKSON:  Yeah, he does look like he’s sleeping. for sure.

BURT WOLF:   What did they eat?

ART JACKSON:  Well, because they were so busy paddling, they never had much time to trap, to catch game, so they actually traded with the native people, and it was a very important trade item called “pemican.”  And the pemican was produced by the natives in huge quantities from... basically, a basic recipe would be taking one medium-size buffalo, and -- I don’t know if they added dashes and, sips and dashes of various things, but they did throw in berries from the season, fresh berries, they would take the meat and dry it, so that it was dried in the sun and then pounded, and then they would take all the fat from the animal and they would mix the meat and the fat and all the berries together and put it into skin bags.  And the Voyageurs would transport that down the river as their food.  Mind you, it was only -- there was only enough room in the canoe to last about a week for food, so they had to stop roughly every week at a trading post to replenish their pemican supplies.  The distances, actually, in many of the major cities in Canada are roughly one week apart; in distance-wise, five hundred miles, roughly.  And that’s because most of them were fur posts in the early days.

{NAVIGATOR sings in French]

ART JACKSON:  Our main purpose, of course, in taking folks down this part of the river is the unique view from the river of the park itself, the environment here, the river view, the sounds, the wildlife that we run into... we take our folks on a very gentle float down the river.

BURT WOLF:  It is so beautiful.

[Singing concludes]

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The fur trade in North America was based on a European fashion for hats that were made out of beaver skins.  Those very valuable beaver skins were supplied from Canada by a company called the Hudson Bay Company.  Their agent in this area was a guy named Jasper. He operated a trading post and sold supplies to the trappers. 

This is an actual photograph of the building in which he conducted his business. It was known as Jasper House, and eventually the entire area was called Jasper.  The first actual settler in Jasper was a man named Lewis Swift.  He came up from the United States in 1893, built this cabin, traded with the natives, and raised cattle.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When the European fashion for beaver hats came to an end, so did the fur trade in Canada.  And Jasper settled back to the wilderness that it had been for thousands of years.  But just south of here, in an spot called Banff, the joint was jumping.  The Canadian Pacific Railroad had gotten the federal government to declare Banff a national park.  The railroad built a hotel that had become an attraction for international tourists, and both the government and the railroad were making lots of money.  When a second railroad was built across the country on a more northerly route, it cut through Jasper.  And the government soon realized that it had another opportunity to produce a federal park, and another opportunity to make big bucks. Which was only fair, because the government had spent a fortune getting the railroads started.

In 1907 they set up the Jasper Forest Park.  The original town was just a division point on the railroad called Fitzhugh.  It was really only a row of tents that offered, as the sign in this photo says... a place to "eat and sleep".  There’s an early example of honest advertising. In 1922 Jasper still offered a place to "eat and sleep," but things were getting a bit more elegant.  The Jasper Park Lodge had been built.  For $3.00 a day you could sleep in a log cabin and eat in the main lodge.  You could dance in the ballroom or sit out on the verandah.  Or you just might end up playing golf alongside superstars like Bing Crosby and Smokey The Bear.  In 1953 it became the location for the filming of The Far Country with Corinne Calvet.  I had a crush on her from which I am just recovering.  But life goes on, and today the Jasper Park Lodge is one of the world's great resorts.  It sits on over a thousand acres of majestic wilderness.  The cabins look as rustic as ever on the outside, but inside are the most up-to-date facilities.  The golf course was designed by Stanley Thompson who had the fascinating idea of lining up the holes with the local mountain peaks. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The natural, if somewhat unique, hazards for the course include elk, geese, deer,  and occasionally a bear who seems to enjoy collecting golf balls.  There are facilities for canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, biking and tennis.  During the winter, there’s downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, skating, you can ride around in a horse-drawn sleigh, or you can go snowshoeing.    And all year long, there’s great cooking. 

Jeff O'Neill is the Executive Sous Chef at the lodge and today he's preparing a salmon steak that was marinated as if to make a gravlax, but then it's grilled and served with a sauce of mustard and dill.  Four salmon steaks, about an inch thick, are set into a pan.  Four tablespoons of sugar are sprinkled on top.  Four tablespoons of salt go on top of the sugar.  The mixture of the two is pressed into the surface of the fish.  A sprinkling of fresh dill... about a half tablespoon on each steak... a grinding of pepper.  Then the salmon steaks are turned over and the sugaring and salting and dilling process is repeated.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Here you go.  And that goes in the fridge for about twenty hours, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

BURT WOLF:   See you tomorrow. ...

JEFF O’NEILL:  Ah, welcome back.

BURT WOLF:   Thank you, thank you.  “As we left off yesterday...”  What’s all the moisture?

JEFF O’NEILL:  The moisture is the liquid from the salmon that the salt has extracted, so that’s where we get the cured salmon effect from.  Right now, if you wanted to, you could probably eat it in the state it’s in.

At this point the sauce is made.  A cup of mustard is mixed together with a tablespoon of honey... two tablespoons of chopped fresh dill and a teaspoon of oil.  Now we are ready for the grilling.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Well, right now I’m oiling the grill; when you’re barbecuing salmon, I think it’s really important that you first scrub down the grill as best you can, heat it up to a very high temperature and then oil it with just a little regular vegetable oil or olive oil.  Either will work. 

The salmon goes onto the grill... and cooks for four minutes on each side.

JEFF O’NEILL:  So now at this point, what we do is we give the salmon a little turn; gives it some nice grill marks, and it also adds a little bit of flavor.

The fish steaks come off the grill and onto the serving plate... some zucchini goes on... a sprig of dill... pickled beets, and the sauce on top of the fish.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For over 100 years the Canadian province of Alberta has been famous for its lamb. So it's only fitting that Jeff uses the local product for his next recipe. 

It's grilled lamb chops served with a ginger and tomato salsa.  First the salsa... two tablespoons of olive oil go into a bowl ... followed by two tablespoons of red wine vinegar... two crushed cloves of garlic... and two cups of tomato cut into small pieces.  All that gets mixed together. Then a yellow bell pepper and a green bell pepper are seeded and chopped and mixed in.  Three tablespoons of chopped cilantro and a tablespoon of chili paste are stirred in.  Finally... a cup of chopped green onion... and a quarter of a cup of Japanese pickled ginger that's been minced... salt... pepper... and a little sugar.  That should rest in the refrigerator for an hour so the flavors can blend together.  A rack of lamb that’s been frenched is sliced into individual chops. 

JEFF O’NEILL:  In this neck of the woods, when we mean a “frenched lamb rack,” is the meat’s been removed from one- third down the bone, and from between the bones.  And that makes for a nice eye-appealing look in the restaurant.

BURT WOLF:   Gives you something to grab onto when you eat with your hands, too.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Exactly!  And that’s what we’re gonna do today.

Then the chops go onto the grill... and a little salt and pepper go onto the chops.  As soon as the lamb is cooked to the degree of doneness that you like, take the chops off the grill and get ready to plate the dish.  The chops go on... roasted potatoes (these have been cut to look like mushrooms)... steamed carrots, and the salsa on top of the lamb.

During the 1840's a Jesuit missionary known as Father de Smet was traveling through this part of the Canadian Rockies.  He had so much trouble crossing one of the rivers that he named it "Maligne," which is the French word for "wicked".  Today Maligne is the official name of the river, as well as the canyon through which it flows, and a nearby lake. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The Maligne Canyon was created by what is called a “hanging glacier.”  During the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, the Maligne Glacier was making its way down this valley. 

It was coming out of that mountain over there and sliding down to the right.  At the same time, a much bigger and deeper glacier was pushing its way down the Athabasca Valley. That’s the valley which you can see at the right of your screen... crossing in front of the Maligne.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   So here’s the ice of the Maligne glacier working its way down the valley.  Along comes the bigger, more powerful ice of the Athabasca.  It just lops off the end of the Maligne.  The Athabasca is also much deeper.  So when the ice melts, the Athabasca valley is much lower, and the Maligne is left “hanging up” hundreds of yards above the Athabasca. 

And that's exactly what you see today as you look down from the mountains.  Maligne has become the longest and deepest limestone canyon in the Canadian Rockies.  For thousands of years the river took the path of least resistance and cut a crack through the bedrock that is narrow, deep, and filled with a rushing river.  It cuts through the rock at the rate of half a centimeter per year as it surges down this gorge to join up with the Athabasca River and then off to the Arctic Ocean. It is an amazing place to visit.  But it is only the beginning of the extraordinary display of nature that is on view in this valley.  As you continue up the canyon you come to Medicine Lake.  The lake sits on top of a bedrock base that is made up mostly of limestone... limestone which dissolves in water.  During the centuries since the lake was originally formed by melting ice, the water of the lake has been able to find its way into the limestone and create a series of sinkholes and underground caves that run down for almost three miles.  During the winter Medicine Lake virtually disappears.  The native tribes considered that "bad medicine" which is where the name comes from. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   When the water from Medicine Lake comes out in the valley on the other side of this mountain, it creates new lakes.  This form of underground drainage is known as a "karst" system.  And the one here at Medicine Lake is the largest in the world and one of the reasons that the area has been designated as a World Heritage Site.

A little further up the valley and you come to Maligne Lake.  This is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies and one of the most beautiful sights in North America.  In 1928 a local guide named Curly Phillips built this floating boathouse on the lake and tourists began to come up to see the place... and eventually to fish.  Today there are tourboats that will take you out to visit this fascinating spot.  These days one of the local guides is John Auger.

JOHN AUGER:  The mountain range to the left of us, the Queen Elizabeth range, is all limestone.  Limestone’s a fairly solid rock, and most of the Canadian Rockies are made of limestone.  And why they call it the Canadian Rockies is because there’s such... (Laughs)

BURT WOLF:   Rocks!

JOHN AUGER:  Rocks, exactly!

BURT WOLF:   Those are big rocks!

JOHN AUGER:  Yeah, they’re big rocks, and just the, the sight of them inspires awe to people, and they never used to look like this before the Ice Age.  What they were is huge rolling hills with no trees, no nothing on them.  You can see to the left there’s a mountain range that’s called Sinking Ship Ridge; you can see grooves right in the side.  That’s where rocks have literally ripped the side of the mountains off.  And this is one of the largest rock slides in the Canadian Rockies, right at the end of the lake.  You’ll notice huge rocks to each side of the lake, boulders out to the left and to the right of us.  To the left of us, right under Sinking Ship Ridge, we have a “perennial avalanche chute.”  And that’s a very green, grassy slope where no trees will grow on.  Now, the perennial avalanche chute, what that means is we’ll have a minimum of one avalanche every winter.  We get so much snow in the mountains in the wintertime, and they almost look like ski slopes.  But that’s the last place you wanna ski on, ‘cause once those avalanches come down, they come down of a speed of about a hundred, hundred and twenty to a hundred and fifty miles an hour.  And it just rolls and rolls, and literally tons and tons of snow, by the time it gets down towards the bottom.  So that’s why there are no trees up here, and that’s why there’s not even tree that will grow up here. ... That’s a glacial stream coming into the lake, you can see it coming right from the toe of the glacier.  And that stream will come right into the lake in this point.  Now, they’re depositing so much silt, and we call this glacial silt, or rock flour... as a glacier moves, it picks these boulders up, crushes them underneath them, into the very fine powder, so that’s why the glaciers look very dirty, a bluish-gray.  As they melt, all this silt and rock flour comes into the water via the streams, gets deposited in the lake and slowly fills the lake up.  Now this point here is called the Samson Narrows.  Would y’all just believe in about a hundred and fifty to two hundred years from now, this whole point will close up, ‘cause of all that glacial silt?  So we’ll be have an upper and lower Maligne Lake, be able to walk across the point of the lake here.  And that’s just from all the glacial runoff. ... Eighty-five percent of the water in this lake comes from the glaciers.  On a day like today, one of the hottest days we’ve had, the top surface will reach perhaps fifty degrees Fahrenheit, but under, that’s constant thirty-eight to forty degrees Fahrenheit, so it is fairly cold.

BURT WOLF:   I won’t be swimming here today.

JOHN AUGER:  Not a lot of people do.  (Laughs)

By the end of the 1800's most of the important mountains in Europe had been conquered by climbers... and serious mountaineers were looking for new challenges.  When word of the Canadian Rockies reached climbing clubs in Europe and the eastern cities of North America, the climbers started heading to Canada's western provinces.  The railroads quickly realized that catering to mountain climbers could be a very profitable business.  They also discovered that the press coverage of the mountaineers brought hundreds of general tourists who just wanted to stay in hotels owned by the railroads and look at the mountains that were being climbed.  They began bringing in mountain guides from Switzerland and assigning them to the hotels.   Eventually it got to a point where any tourist who wanted to climb a mountain could safely do so.  They set up climbs that were more like uphill hikes for amateurs, as well as the real stuff for the real climbers. Of course, the primary objective for many of the early climbers in the Canadian Rockies was to make the first climb to the top of a specific mountain.  The challenge of setting a new record.  Which is precisely what is happening now.  You are witnessing the first ascent of Old Fort Point by a two-man culinary climbing team, with chicken. Actually Jeff is not scared at all... I'm the one who's chicken...and so is the recipe. 

Which is for chicken breasts sautéed with a sauce of onions, flavored vinegar, honey and spinach... with a little melted brie as the peak.  Jeff starts by putting two tablespoons of vegetable oil into a hot non-stick frying pan.  While the oil is warming up, two boneless, skinless chicken breasts are dredged in flour on both sides.  Then the chicken goes into the pan and cooks for three minutes on the first side.  A little salt and pepper and the chicken is turned and cooks for three minutes on the second side.

JEFF O’NEILL:  The way you can tell it’s time to flip the chicken, is by looking at the edges; you can see a little bit of browning on the edge. 

The chicken breasts come out of the pan and in goes a half of a red onion that has been thinly sliced.

JEFF O’NEILL:  I’ve chosen a red onion because of the strong flavor, and it lends itself to the color once the raspberry vinegar is added.

Three minutes of cooking and two tablespoons of honey are added. Then an ounce of raspberry flavored vinegar or balsamic vinegar or just a good quality red wine vinegar.  The sauce simmers for about three minutes at which point it comes out of the pan and is held aside.  A little oil goes into the pan, followed by a crushed clove of garlic and four cups of spinach that have been washed well.  Two minutes of cooking... the onion goes back in.  Two more minutes of cooking and once again everything comes out of the pan.  The chicken breasts go back in... the spinach and onion mixture goes on top of the chicken.  A few thin slices of brie cheese on top.  A cover.  Two more minutes of cooking to melt the cheese.  The cover comes off and it's ready to plate.  First the chicken... a few carrots... some zucchini and it's ready to serve.

JEFF O’NEILL:  Comme ça?

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): As I mentioned, the first Europeans into this area were French fur traders known as Voyageurs.  They got along quite well with the native tribes; at least I hope they did... they were always marrying each other.  And as often happens... when two cultures get together, they influence each other’s recipe.  An example is this Voyageur Stew.  Originally it was made by the native tribes.  They would take the intestines of an animal, or a large skin, fill it with the solid ingredients, cover that with water, and then, because they couldn’t put the skin over direct heat, they would drop in hot stones until the water came to a boil, and the food was... boiled. When the Voyageurs showed up, they had metal pots.  So all the ingredients went in, and you see this dish being sauteed for the first time... and it tasted much better.

The recipe starts by putting a little oil into a deep- sided pan.  As soon as the oil is hot... in go three pounds of lean beef cut into small cubes. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The original native tribes would have made this dish with moose, elk, or bear meat, and if you can get that in your supermarket, please use it.  My market tends to be out of elk and bear most of the time, and they never have moose on special, so I tend to make this with lean beef.   

The beef cooks for five minutes, then in go two cups of coarsely chopped onion... three quarters of a cup of maple syrup... a few minutes of cooking... three cups of potatoes cut into small cubes... two cups of turnips, also cut into small cubes... a few more minutes of cooking... a cup of minced green onions... four cups of beef stock... salt and pepper and an hour's worth of simmering.  The result is a dish that pays tribute to the history of Jasper.

Jasper is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  Mountain peaks that look across the top of the world at rocks that are over 600 million years old.  It's an amazing experience.  We talk about the wonders of our planet and the effort we must make to preserve them.   But when we make those statements in crowded and tense cities...in nations that seem always to be in conflict... it's sometimes difficult to remember precisely what it is that we are trying to save.   Not so in this place. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Jasper is here to remind us what home looked liked in the beginning, and what it feels like to be in the arms of nature.  And that's just a little of what Jasper is all about. I hope you enjoyed it... and I hope you will join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I'm Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Show-Banff - #105

The town of Banff in western Canada is within one of the world's great national parks.  This is the place to get a good look at the Canadian Rockies and the wonders that have made this area famous.  Unspoiled nature that's easy to get to and easy to be in. It has all the summer and winter sports you can think of ... plus some great local cooking.  So join me in Banff for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

In 1883 Banff was designated as Canada's first national park, and with good reason.  It has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world.  The views are almost shocking... jagged mountains that shoot thousands of feet into powder blue skies... ancient glaciers feeding lakes with mirrored surfaces that reflect the pine forests... alpine meadows... waterfalls... This is what happens when nature works with an unlimited budget and no deadline.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There’s archeological evidence that native tribes have been hunting around here for over 11,000 years.  The first people of European ancestry to come into the area were two trappers who came up from the United States in 1875.  But the real development of Banff didn’t get started until the Canadian Pacific Railroad decided to use the area for part of their transcontinental track.  On November 8th, 1883 three of those railroad workers were climbing around this mountain in the hope of discovering some mineral deposits.  At one point they came upon a hole, and when they looked down, they realized there was a hot sulphur spring below.  How you doin’?

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Doing fine!  And for a while, so were the railroad workers.  They immediately realized that they had discovered something of considerable value.  Hot water was hard to come by in a frontier environment, and they knew that people pay big bucks for a hot bath.  They also may have realized hot springs were considered to be a cure for many illnesses, and that people would pay to sit in them.  But the railroad workers were not the only people interested in the hot springs.

William Cornelius Van Horn ran the railroad and clearly understood that this site was worth a fortune.  He convinced the Federal Government to designate the area as Canada's first national park and to give the railroad the rights to develop the area.  A bathhouse was built and the bathers showed up for "the cure".  The railroad also started the construction of a series of magnificent resorts as part of their program to attract tourists.  The Banff Springs Chateau was the first of these structures.  When the hotel opened, it was the largest hotel in the world... with room rates starting at an astronomical three and a half dollars per day.  The building was, and still is a work of art. 

Martin Luthi is the Executive Chef at the Springs, and today he's cooking at the hotel's outdoor grill. Martin's first recipe is for Trout With Spring Vegetables.  He starts by heating his sauté pan and then adding in two tablespoons of oil.  As soon as the oil is hot, in goes a half cup of chopped onion... then a half cup of sliced fennel, or you can substitute celery for the fennel.  Then a half cup of sliced leeks... a little more cooking... and a cup of chicken stock, followed by a half cup of white wine. 

MARTIN LUTHI:  If somebody doesn’t use any wine, we just add some more stock.

Next, a cup of zucchini slices are added... plus a cup of carrots... a cup of tomatoes... and four strips of spring onion.  Some stirring, a little salt and pepper.  And now we’re up to the trout.  A little salt and pepper go onto two trout fillets.  Then the trout goes onto the vegetables.  Cover goes on... and the fish cooks for three or four minutes.  Then the top comes off... the fish goes into a big soup dish... the vegetables follow... and some of the stock that the fish was cooked in.  Finally a sprinkling of chopped chives.

For his next recipe, Martin is cooking a dish which is based on an old standard for all Swiss chefs. Traditionally it’s made with veal, cream and mushrooms, but today Martin is using boneless, skinless breast of chicken and yogurt with his mushrooms.  He starts by putting two tablespoons of oil into a hot pan.  While that’s heating up, a little salt and pepper go onto four boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been cut into small strips.  The chicken goes into the oil to cook.  It's sautéed for five minutes, or until the chicken is browned on all sides. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  We’re losing a little heat to the wind, so for the next few minutes I’ll be lying this way to protect the flame.

MARTIN LUTHI:  No napping!  (Laughs)

When the chicken is cooked, it comes out of the pan.  A little more oil goes in... and as soon as it is hot a few chopped shallots are added or two tablespoons of chopped onion.  A cup of sliced button mushrooms... a half cup of morel mushrooms... a few more minutes of cooking.  A pinch of salt and a twist of fresh pepper.  A cup of chicken stock... a half cup of white wine... and lots of heat for about five minutes to reduce the liquid.  Then a tablespoon of butter that has been pressed into a tablespoon of flour is whisked in.  The French call that a Beurre Manie and it has the effect of thickening the sauce.  When we were testing this recipe, Martin discovered that the Beurre Manee mixture altered the chemistry of the sauce so we could finish it off with yogurt instead of cream, and the yogurt would not separate because of the heat.  It's a great little tip.  The half cup of non-fat yogurt is blended in and the chicken returns.  Everything is heated up... and goes into a copper presentation pan to be served.  Finally a garnish of chopped parsley.

Martin serves his chicken and mushroom dish with potatoes that are prepared according to an old Swiss recipe... the result is called Rosti, and it's very simple.

Four potatoes that have been boiled in their skins are peeled and grated.  Three tablespoons of oil go into a hot pan, followed by a half cup of thinly sliced onions.  The onions cook for a moment and then the grated potatoes are added.  A little salt... and some fresh pepper go in.  The potatoes are shaped into a disk and cooked until a crust forms on the bottom... that should take about five minutes.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Now, the only difficult part about this recipe is trying to flip all of the potatoes at one time to turn it over and brown the other side; to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever attempted this before outside.  We are somewhat concerned about the weather; there is a high wind blowing... could go either way.

[Drum roll]

I hope we’re gonna be okay...

MARTIN LUTHI:  Let’s give it a shot.

[Cymbal crash and applause]

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Ladies and gentlemen, that was the first successful flip of a rosti in a ten-knot wind.  We’re all very impressed with what happened here today.

Chicken with mushrooms and a grated potato pancake!

But good cooking wasn't always available in Banff. That's a photograph of Banff Avenue... the town's main street... taken in 1887.  This is a post card of Banff Avenue from 1914... and here's what it looks like today.  The natural beauty of the place is still here... the shopping has improved considerably... but street parking has become a bit more difficult.  Cameron Spence is a local guide with the tourist office and he's going to give us a look at the nearby attractions. The first thing to do is take a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. It only takes 8 minutes to get to the top which is about 2,300 feet above sea level. As you go up you begin to get an extraordinary view of the area.

CAMERON SPENCE:   Well, I think one of the special aspects of this ride is that it gets you up about a mile and a half above sea level, and an opportunity to see all the sights that we’re going to be experiencing throughout the day. 

BURT WOLF:   Ah, you can see the town of Banff there; we’re just coming up over the rise. 

CAMERON SPENCE:   Mm-hmm, and on a special day like today, we should be able to see up to nineteen miles. 

BURT WOLF:   What’s it like to go up on foot?

CAMERON SPENCE:   Up on foot is an interesting -- it’s a moderately difficult hike; probably take you a couple of hours to get to the top.

BURT WOLF:   What are those little cabins down there?

CAMERON SPENCE:   That’s somewhat of a rest cabin; on the hike on the way up here you can rest there for a few minutes, catch your breath.

BURT WOLF:   I’d have to rest a few weeks on this climb.  (Laughter)  I guess that’s one way to work off your lunch.

CAMERON SPENCE:   I would say that you would expend a few calories on the way up here.

The Vermilion Lakes are just outside of town and were created when a ancient glacier deposited a giant pile of rocks in the Bow River.  The water backed up, forming the lakes which have become home to a range of wildlife including eagles, osprey, beaver and muskrat.  One of the lakes is fed from a hot spring which keeps the area ice-free during the winter.  As a result, some birds spend the cold months at the lake instead of migrating south.  The Vermilion Lakes offer great spots for bird watchers. ... Bow Falls is an easy walk from town and a great place to relax.  The Bow River got its name because the trees near certain parts of the river were just the right wood for the making of hunting bows. ... Fenland Trail runs through a nature preserve at the edge of Banff. As you walk out of town, you can pick up a booklet that will send you through the trail on a self-guided tour of the area.  You can make arrangements to go horseback riding... You can also go river rafting.  There are plenty of challenges in the whitewater rapids... but there's also what they call the Couch Potato version for the less adventurous.

The Banff Springs Hotel is famous for its golf course and its pro, Doug Wood.  Doug says that playing a course in the Rockies requires a slightly different viewpoint.

DOUG WOOD:  One of the things that we find when we’re playing the mountains is that the visualization can sometimes really confuse us.  Sometimes when the green is set tight to the mountains, it looks a lot closer than it really is.  On a shot like this, where the green’s set in front of the mountains, the green looks much, much farther away.  So one of the things, when you’re playing mountain golf, is to believe the yardages.  Take aim at your target and just try to hit the ball with a good, smooth swing.

Doug’s approach to playing golf is a good metaphor for everything that goes on in and around Banff.

DOUG WOOD:  Believe in what you see.

There have been at least seven ice ages during the earth's history.  And during each of these periods the temperature dropped, snowfall increased, and ice covered large parts of the planet.  During the last major ice age, which peaked about 40,000 years ago, most of Canada and the northern part of the United States lay under gigantic sheets of snow and ice.  And some of the weather patterns that caused this ice to form are still operating.  Winds that are filled with moisture from their long passage across the Pacific Ocean come ashore along the coast of British Columbia.  As they rise up to cross the Canadian Rockies the air cools, clouds are formed and snow starts to fall. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   At one point, the snow clouds pass over some of the tallest mountains in the Canadian Rockies and across a high plateau.  And this is the spot where they dump most of their snow.  As a matter of fact, more snow falls here than ever melts, and so an enormous mass of snow is built up. That mass is so heavy that it presses out the oxygen from the snow and forms a giant pack of ice.  It's not unlike what happens when you walk along a city street after a fresh snowfall and press that snow into ice.  Only difference is here the ice is hundreds and hundreds of feet thick and it's called an icefield.  When a big sheet of ice in that icefield starts to move out, it’s called a glacier.

You can get an excellent idea of what an ice age looked like by visiting the Athabasca Glacier.  The glacier is part of the Columbia Icefield that straddles the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.  Jim and Bill Brewster were local guides who helped visitors through the Rocky Mountain wilderness during the 1890's. They became famous for their ability to take people to the most interesting parts of the Rockies.  Today the company that still bears their name will take you on a SnoCoach tour of the glacier.

MARIE PLAMONDON:  And now, we’re about to go down the steepest unpaved passenger-carrying road in North America.

BURT WOLF:   Uh-huh.  It’s the only road I’ve ever been on where I think I could use a parachute.

MARIE PLAMONDON:  It has a thirty-two percent grade.  It may not look like it now, but we’re already on the glacier.  The rock you see beneath here and on the sides is just a very thin layer.  What happens is, water freezing overnight in the cracks of the rocks of the surrounding mountains will expand and break the rock.  Then all the rocks will tumble down, landing on the edges of the glacier.  We also have, in wintertime, avalanches will carry loose rocks down.  So the rocks landing on the sides of the glacier will insulate the ice.  This is all ice.  If you go there, you wouldn’t have to dig very far down to see ice.

BURT WOLF:   The water running along the side is the snow melting.

MARIE PLAMONDON:  That’s the ice melting, yeah.  And the water we see now is nothing compared to what we’ll see maybe at three o’clock this afternoon.  Probably tripled.  So what the icefield’s like, it’s like a big, giant bowl of ice with mountains surrounding it.  And over the years, as the ice is building up, then it comes to the top and it needs to overflow, so the ice will start moving down the valleys.  And what’s moving down the valley is a glacier.  Of course, not fast enough that you can feel it, but the steeper it is on the glacier, well, the faster that particular part will move.  The headwall, for instance, it’s quite steep.  If you’d stick a flag in the headwall, well, a year later that flag would be four hundred feet down.

BURT WOLF:   So it moves about four hundred feet a year. 

MARIE PLAMONDON:  Because it’s so steep there.  Then where it’s flat, like where we’ll stop, for instance, it’s about eighty feet per year.  It’s like a parking area.

BURT WOLF:   How deep is the ice that we’re driving over now?

MARIE PLAMONDON:  Where we’ll stop there, there’ll be a thousand feet of ice.

BURT WOLF:   A thousand feet of ice underneath us.

MARIE PLAMONDON:  There’ll be a thousand feet of ice where we get out.


BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   About seventy-five percent of the world's supply of fresh water is stored in glaciers, so I figured this was the appropriate spot to give you a few tips about ice in your kitchen.     

Any ice cubes that have been in your freezer for more than a week will have absorbed odors from the air in your freezer.  And that can easily have a negative effect on the taste of the drink you put them into.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   So if you’re really interested in flavor, it’s a good idea to run a little cold water over your ice cubes before you use them.  That’ll take off the outside layer of ice and give you a clean, clear taste.  To make sure you freeze your foods food properly and safely, it's essential to keep your freezer is zero degrees or lower. The only way to do that is with a freezer thermometer.  If you reach your hand in your freezer and the food feels solid, all that means is that the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, because 32 degrees Fahrenheit is where water turns to ice.  And that may not be low enough to hold your food properly.

And finally, a note on freezing food and salt.  Salt lowers the freezing point of water so any food that has been salted will not freeze as well as food that is unsalted.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  So if you’re making a large batch of soup and you plan to freeze some of it, put aside the batch you’re going to freeze before you salt it.

The environment in Banff is a constant reminder of peaks.  In terms of recipes, it reminds me to introduce you to pastry chef Andreas Schwarzer at the Banff Springs who is at the peak of his pastry making skills.  He's going to make two of his most popular desserts. His first recipe is for Carrot Cake.  One cup of brown sugar is mixed into 5 cups of grated carrots.

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  We put sugar in the carrots so it takes all the juice out of the carrots and we get a lot of flavor.  So the sugar draws out all the juice.  And to do that, we have to let it sit for maybe half and hour to an hour.  The juice is coming out; you actually can see that.

BURT WOLF:   Mmm.  And carrots are kinda sweet to begin with, aren’t they?

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  Yeah, and it gives it a really nice fresh taste to it.

After the half hour has passed, a considerable amount of juice has come out of the carrots.  At this point Andreas adds a cup of vegetable oil and three eggs... one at a time.  The eggs go in one at a time because that makes it easier to completely incorporate them in the mixture.  Then 1 teaspoon of vanilla. 

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  When everything is mixed well, we’re gonna add all our dry ingredients.

The bowl of dry ingredients is made up of a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, two and a half cups of flour, a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and a half teaspoon of baking powder.  Stir that together and add the dry ingredients to the moist ingredients... slowly. 

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  If you just dump it in, you’re gonna end up having a lot of big lumps in the mix, and we certainly want to avoid that, eh?

BURT WOLF:   I’ve certainly had enough lumps in my life.

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  (Chuckles)  You see the nice color?  You get from the brown sugar and the carrot juice?  So our end product’s gonna be a nice dark cake.

When the batter is fully mixed Andreas pours it into a 9-inch ring mold that is set on a piece of parchment paper over a sheet pan... but you can also use a spring-form pan that has been lightly oiled.  Then into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for forty-five minutes.  While the cake is baking the icing is prepared.

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  Philadelphia cream cheese.

BURT WOLF:   Why Philadelphia?

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  Okay.  I try a lot of different cream cheeses.  And I find a lot of them have too much salt in it.  And that’s the last thing you want to taste; you have a nice carrot cake, you have an icing, and you taste the salt.  And I don’t wanna ruin the cake. 

The eight ounces of cream cheese are followed by 1 3/4 cups of confectioners’ sugar.   Half the sugar goes in and is blended into 8 tablespoons of butter... then the second half of the confectioners’ sugar.  The reason half goes in at a time is to prevent the sugar from blowing around when the beater first hits.

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  The butter has to have the same consistency than the cream cheese.  If it doesn’t, you have a lot of butter lumps in here. 

Then a tablespoon of vanilla goes in... a little more beating and the icing is ready.  The baked cake comes out of the oven, cools to room temperature and returns to the work table.  The cake is taken out of the ring and sliced in half into two discs.  About a third of the icing goes onto the top of the bottom disc.  The top disc goes on top.  Then the rest of the icing goes onto the top of the top disc and the sides of both.  A wave pattern is drawn into the icing on top.  Toasted sliced almonds are pressed into the sides.  Slice marks are pressed into the top.  And marzipan carrots are placed on each slice.  The icing on the cake.

Andreas’ second recipe is for a white chocolate Grand Marnier Cheese Cake.  He starts by pouring two ounces of melted unsalted butter into 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs and mixing those two ingredients together.  Then that’s pressed into the bottom of an eight inch round form to make a crust.  The batter is started by mixing 14 ounces of cream cheese together with a quarter cup of confectioners sugar.  In a second bowl two eggs are added to 4 tablespoons of orange juice... followed by 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur... and the zest of an orange.  All that is mixed together and quickly added to 5 ounces of melted white chocolate.  When that’s all fully blended it is mixed into the cream cheese... and you have the basic batter.  At that point a third of a cup of sugar is whipped into 2 egg whites until the whites are just starting to stand in peaks.

ANDREAS SCHWARZER:  Okay, let’s see it again; should be right... see, it’s soft.  It just stands up; that’s what we want.  We don’t want it over-whipped.  Otherwise, when we bake it, they crack very easy, these cakes.

The whipped egg whites get folded into the cream cheese batter and the final mixture gets poured over the graham cracker crust.  Then into a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35 minutes.  When the cake comes out of the oven, it cools and comes out of the ring form and then onto a cardboard disc to make it easier to handle.  The cake is  cut into eight slices, and between each slice Andreas dips the knife into warm water to keep the side of the blade from sticking to the cake.  A little freshly whipped cream goes onto each slice plus a Mandarin orange section.  And finally... a few shavings of white chocolate.

The Canadian Rockies are part of an enormous mountain system that runs along the western edge of both North and South America.  Scientists who study the geology of the earth tell us that we are all going about our lives on a group of huge plates that sit on top of the molten center of our planet.  About 150 million years ago, the plate on which North America sits began to move to the west. As it did so, it eventually banged up against a pile of rocks that were sitting in its path.  As it pushed against these rocks, it folded them into the Rocky Mountains.  On a somewhat smaller scale, it’s what would happen if you took a newspaper, placed it flat on a desk and slowly pushed it against the wall... lots of folds and layering. And that is one of the processes that formed what we are looking at down there.  Eventually the pressure caused the rocks to break along the weakest edges.  The broken fault blocks began to push up to form the peaks we see below.  Add to those forces the effects of millions of years of rain and wind and snow and ice, and you have some idea of the importance of erosion.  Erosion is what gives the Rockies their rugged look.  In terms of the geological clock, the Canadian Rockies are very young.  And their beauty seems to have a rejuvenating effect on visitors.

Banff is quite beautiful during the warm months... but there are many people who think it looks even more spectacular in the winter.  Take a look at this.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): Well...that's a peek at Banff, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies.  I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you'll join us next time as we travel around the world, looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I'm Burt Wolf.

Burt Wolf's Menu: Show-Calgary - #102

The Canadian west... we'll take a look at its extraordinary natural beauty... discover some dinosaur digs... visit the city of Calgary and find out how the railroad made all this possible.  We'll ride up to a local ranch, uncover the true story of the chuckwagon and cook up some traditional recipes.  So join me in Calgary, Alberta for BURT WOLF’S MENU.

Alberta is one of the western provinces of Canada.  Its own western border runs through the magnificent beauty of the Canadian Rockies.  At its southern border is the U.S. state of Montana.  It has thousands of acres of fertile farmland.  Ranches that rival those of Texas... and some of the most beautiful national parks in the world.  Its capital city of Edmonton is host to the largest shopping mall in North America... over 800 stores... all in one place.  And the city of Calgary is one of the most exciting cities in Western Canada.  If, however, you were passing through the area about 100 million years ago, you would have been working your way through the shallow, muddy inland sea that covered much of western Canada... a semi-tropical swamp packed with vegetation... and the ancestral home to the North American dinosaur. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  This is the Calgary Zoo Botanical Garden and Prehistoric Park.  In addition to their animals, they have over twenty models of prehistoric animals that hang out in a setting designed to look very much as western Canada did... millions of years ago.

The first model went into the zoo in 1933.  He's nicknamed "Dinny" and he became a superstar 60 years before anyone ever heard of "Barney". 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Of all of the periods in the history of Alberta and particularly the city of Calgary, none is more important than the days of the dinosaurs.  For it was during the period of the dinosaurs that billions of tiny creatures settled into the mud that was on the bottom of the sea that covered this area.  Eventually these creatures were pressured and pressed into becoming giant pools of petroleum... and it was the discovery of those petroleum deposits that made Calgary what it is today.

For thousands of years, the native tribes had been using the petroleum that seeped up to the surface of the earth to caulk their boats, and as a form of topical medicine. But this casual approach to oil changed dramatically when the first big strike hit in 1914.  The Dingman Discovery Well #1 made its appearance in Turner Valley just outside of Calgary and Alberta's original oil boom began.  There have been a number of oil strikes since then, and each time the wealth created from nature's black gold had an impact on Calgary.  Glittering downtown office buildings were put up to house the headquarters of the major oil companies.  The local sense of "we can do it" brought in the 1988 Winter Olympics.  The Saddledome was constructed originally for the Olympic skating competitions... these days it's home to the to the Calgary Flames... one of the world's great professional hockey teams.  Stephen Avenue was turned into a pedestrian mall with a general atmosphere that lends itself to relaxed shopping... or just wandering around.  Much of downtown Calgary has been connected by a series of elevated walkways that are called "Plus 15s" because they are a little over fifteen feet above the streets.  It makes it very easy to get from one building to another... no matter what the weather.  There’s also an elevated indoor park called Devonian Gardens.  During the winter, people come in for a quick warm weather vacation and all year long everyone who works in the area uses it as a gathering spot or for a park lunch.  The Calgary Tower runs up for over 600 feet and presents a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding area.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There’s a considerable amount of cultural activity, and the city is packed with excellent restaurants. The people of Calgary pumped up the oil... the oil pumped up the money... and the money pumped up the people of Calgary.  But there’s a lot to the story of Calgary between the dinosaurs and Discovery Well #1.  After 120 million years of being league leaders in the animal world... the dinosaurs just disappeared... and whatever happened around here for the next 65 million years, the story’s pretty sketchy.  But then, only 35,000 years ago... groups of people began to migrate from Asia to Alaska and down through northwestern Canada to this area.  The first native tribes had begun to arrive.

The local tribes were members of what is called The Blackfoot Confederacy. Their diet was to a great extent made up of buffalo meat and berries.  The word buffalo actually means real meat... the implication being that any other meat just wasn't the real thing.  In spite of the fact that fish were easily available from the rivers, fish was not part of their meals.  A fish was considered to be a creature from the "underworld" and therefore to be feared and avoided.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The first Europeans to arrive in the area were fur traders with the Hudson Bay Company... and they got along pretty well with the native tribes.  But things took a turn for the worst after the American Civil War.  Soldiers, not wanting to return home, just drifted west.  Some of them crossed the border and began selling  whiskey.  The area was not under the direct control of any lawful force.   Some of the whiskey was poisonous; all of it was disruptive.   The Canadian government decided in 1875 that they had to put an end to the whiskey trade, and they sent out F Troop of the Northwest Mounted Police. When the Mounties arrived at this very spot, the juncture of the Elbow and Bow Rivers, they built a fort. And as soon as law and order arrived, so did the cattle business.

The great cattle-drives from the ranches of Texas to the rail-heads in Kansas took place from the middle of the 1860's to the middle of the 1880's... the whole business    only lasted twenty years but it produced enough cowboy folklore to become one of the mythic images of North America.  During the 1880's big herds of cattle started coming into Canada by crossing the border from Montana to Alberta.   The chuck wagon headed the procession... next came the lead steer... followed by fifty thousand steaks and chops spread out among two or three thousand head of cattle. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The chuck wagon was actually designed by one of the great cattle kings.  His name was Charles Goodnight and he had a clear idea of what his men needed for a drive.  The wagon was divided into a series of boxes; everything had its place.  There was enough stuff to feed ten men for thirty days.  When the wagon was moving it was covered by a door that protected everything.  When the cook got ready to cook, the door came down and became a work surface.  The cook would carry salt pork and bacon... flour, a sourdough starter, cornmeal, coffee and always and forever... beans.  Beans were served so often that very often meal time was referred to as "bean time". 

This chuck wagon is part of the rig at the Rafter Six Ranch Resort which is just to the west of Calgary. The name Rafter Six is a reference to the brand that was originally used on this ranch...a half diamond that looks like a rafter on the top and a number 6 underneath.  The ranch was founded by  Colonel James Walker of the Northwest Mounted Police. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The next person to own the Ranch was a guy named Soapy Smith, and he was a real character.  I couldn't find out why he was called “Soapy,” but it definitely wasn't because he was 99 and 44/100ths percent pure.  When he was in his late seventies he married a girl who had just become a teen-ager.  Together they started a guide tour business on the ranch.  After Soapy's widely anticipated demise, his widow remarried and turned the ranch into a guest house.  During the 1940's the area became home to some really interesting movies.

One of Marilyn Monroe’s first movies, “River of No Return” was filmed here.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   "Well... I reckon it's time for me to start cookin’.  I’m gonna do some traditional chuck wagon stuff.  I’m gonna do a Dutch oven brown bread, cowboy chili, a little coffee, and I figure for dessert the boys would enjoy a Chocolate Soufflé with a little Grand Marnier Sauce."


BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Well... the French were the first explorers in this area; there must have been some French cowhands...

COWBOY # 1:  Somebody -- get a rope!!!

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   I’ll just do the chili...

A nice big cast-iron skillet is heated over the fire and in goes a little bit of vegetable oil. As soon as the oil gets hot two pounds of lean beef are added. The beef’s been cut into one-inch cubes.  They’re cooked and stirred until they are brown on all sides.  Two cloves of chopped garlic go in.  Two cups of chopped onion.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Smellin’ mighty good to me.

The onions cook for a few minutes and then two cups of beef broth go in... followed by one cup of water... and two cups of canned tomatoes and their juices.  Then the spices.  The spice mixture is made up of two tablespoons of chili powder... one teaspoon of oregano... one teaspoon of cumin... and a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  All that gets stirred together and simmered for one and a half hours. At that point we add four cups of pre-cooked pinto beans and two tablespoons of finely ground cornmeal. The cornmeal acts as a thickening agent for the liquids.  Everything simmers together for another thirty minutes and it’s ready to serve.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  An essential element in this recipe is to always be upwind from the fire...

A little cabbage slaw alongside would be nice, some brown bread and maybe apple pie for dessert.  And speaking of brown bread, let’s get that done next. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   First thing is to combine the wet ingredients. 

Two cups of buttermilk are already in the bowl and to that we add three-quarters of a cup of molasses.  Stir that up a bit and then get the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  A cup of raisins go in... a quarter of a cup of chopped walnuts... a cup of whole wheat flour... then a cup of rye flour is added... followed by a cup of yellow cornmeal... three-quarters of a teaspoon of baking soda and a half teaspoon of salt.  Stir all of those dry ingredients together. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Then I mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, but I only mix a half cup at a time, and I only add more dry ingredients when they’re fully incorporated.  It’s a simple technique, but it helps avoid lumps. ... This batter gets cooked in cans.  You’ll need three twenty-ounce cans or four sixteen-ounce cans.  You want to take the labels off and wash them.  Make sure that there are no sharp edges here after you take the top off; leave the bottom on, and then lightly oil the inside and put the batter in.

Cover the tops of the cans with aluminum foil and put them into a Dutch oven or any other pot that is deep enough to hold them.  Pour water into the Dutch oven until it comes up about two inches on the outside of the cans. Cover the Dutch oven and let the water inside simmer for three hours. These breads are really steamed rather than baked. At the end of the cooking time, the cans come out of the water.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Then you let it cool, and you take off the top, and that’s what you’ve got!  Then you want to cut the bottom, and push it out as you slice it.

And the last thing the cook did before he went to bed was to point the chuck wagon towards the North Star.

BURT WOLF:   Well... let’s point ‘er.  That’s the North Star right there.

COWBOY # 1:  That’s not the North Star, that’s Jupiter!

COWBOY # 2:  Naw, you’re crazy, that’s Mars!

BURT WOLF:   Actually... I think that’s the moon.

COWBOY # 1:  Yeah, it is kinda big...

COWBOY # 2:  And it’s got a face.

BURT WOLF:   Let’s point it to the moon.

COWBOY # 1:  Point it to the moon.

Because the arrival of the first Europeans to Calgary coincided with the first travelling photographers, much of Calgary’s history was photographed.  John Gilchrist of the Glenbow Museum has collected a group of photographs that help tell the story of Calgary and its food.

JOHN GILCHRIST:  The chuck wagon chefs were the great cooks of the prairies; you know, when you had a ranch you had to have the best cowboys, to get the best cowboys you had to have the best chuck wagon cook.  So you hired guys like Mexican Jim here in this photograph.  Now he was famous for his pies.  And you can see all the pies that were made were of course double-crusted pies.  That way you don’t have to worry about any utensils, you can grab the whole piece with your hand, don’t have to worry about getting your thumb in the plums, and you just stick it in your face.  Some of the things that they ate weren’t that pleasant.  In fact, in the wintertime up here, they would bake beans and then in the morning they would layer them in between newspaper and let them freeze, slip these into the saddlebags and you have a meal for every day that you’re out on the range.  And at night you’d just, well, sort of heat one up -- or do like the old Tartars, slip one under the saddle of the horse and let it warm up as you ride through the day.  Add a little extra essence there in the beans, as it were.  Not the greatest of food on the range, in some ways.  Now, the chuck wagon chefs, though, they always had to be on top of their game.  Four o’clock in the morning, they were up making coffee.  There’s a great old story of one of the old ranches, where one of the cooks was a little bit slow out of the, out of the bed in the morning, and one of the cowboys rode up, saw there wasn’t any coffee, shot the coffeepot full of six holes of lead... and they were never late for coffee again.  (Laughter)  Now, of course, on the Canadian prairie, half the ranchers were American and half the ranchers were British, and there was the debate over whether to have coffee or tea.  Now they all pretty much had coffee in the morning, but then the Americans wanted to have coffee again later on in the morning, the British wanted to stop for tea in the afternoon.  So they sort of compromised, and depending on who owned the ranch, they leaned one way or the other, but I think the cowboys kind of liked it both ways.  Then they could take as many breaks as possible.

BURT WOLF:   I always find that the farther away a culture is from its original core, the way Canada and Australia are from London, the more they hang onto those traditions.

JOHN GILCHRIST:  And they certainly hung onto it.  In the elegance of the ranch houses, that’s where they supped the tea out of the fine china, and it was more the tin cups on the prairies filled with coffee and tea, and maybe a little illegal whiskey on the side too, that the cowboys really enjoyed.  ... With the history of the ranches in Alberta, Alberta beef became one of the key products of our lifestyle, and Alberta beef is still, we’re still very proud of it and all the things that grow on our ranches and farms around Alberta.  We think we have some of the best products available anywhere.  And in this shot, you can see some of our Victorian elegance coming through in the older days.  They’ve got some of -- they’ve got a cake there, they’ve got what appears to be a bottle of wine, but may actually be just mineral water; there are other little cakes and wafers on that table there, and they are trying to preserve their, their Victorian elegance while at the same time enjoying the fresh fare of Alberta here in the Canadian West.

This is a photograph of Calgary, taken in 1883.  At the time the town was really just a row of tents on the Elbow River, and ninety percent of those tents were either a rooming house or a restaurant. But the character of Calgary was about to undergo a colossal change. On August 11, 1883, the first Canadian Pacific Railway train pulled into Calgary. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The Canadian government decided that they had to build a railroad across their country from the Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean in order to hold their young nation together.  The United States had just built a transcontinental railroad and people here were concerned that the settlers in the western part of the United States would inch across the border and try and bring that part of Canada into the U.S.  As the railroad came across the nation, they were given the rights to the land on which they were laying their track.  But they also got the rights to a lot of land on eithe side of the track.  They soon realized that they could make a fortune by selling that land to settlers.  So they sold you a ticket, and then they sold you the land on which you lived when you got to your destination.  The railroad did okay!

The railroads and the steamship companies advertised all over Europe, and the immigrants began to come in by the thousands.  The settlers were attracted to places that reminded them of home.  Many of the Europeans were frightened off by the open prairie land in Southern Alberta and they tended to go north to Edmonton.  Homesteaders coming up from Montana, Utah and other western states in the U.S. already understood the demands of the wide-open prairie and the land around Calgary looked just fine.  For many people it was quite a lifestyle change.  This is a photograph of George Pocaterra in his native Italy.  And this is a photograph of George Pocaterra at his homestead in Pekisko, Alberta.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  But western Canada still had a reputation as being a little too rough-and-ready for most settlers.  So the farmers of Calgary took a railroad car, a nice warm one, and filled it with examples of the wheat and vegetables that they were growing here.  They sent it back east to show it to the farmers there, figuring if they got a look at what they were growing out here, the eastern farmers would want to move out here.  Well, the Calgary Exhibition did pretty good, and eventually evolved into an annual summer event with a worldwide reputation.

In 1912 Guy Weadick, a wild west show star from the U.S., and his wife Flores LaDue, a champion trick roper, showed up in Calgary.  They convinced a group of local investors to fund a week-long rodeo that was called The Calgary Stampede. These days it is held every July and attracts visitors from all over the world.

As the Canadian Pacific Railway pushed west, it passed through some of the most spectacular scenery in North America... scenery that it could make available to everyone by building hotels and resorts at the major railheads.  Today there are over 25 properties in the group and they include some of Canada's grandest hotels and resorts.  The Empress in Victoria... Chateau Whistler... Jasper Park Lodge... The Royal York in Toronto... and here in Calgary, The Palliser.  The Palliser was originally built in 1914 and named after Captain John Palliser, an Englishman who spent a considerable amount of time exploring western Canada.  Over the years, the hotel has become a major social center for the city.  Calgary is well-known for its western hospitality and The Palliser just takes it one step further.  The hotel has the grand architecture that is part of all Canadian Pacific properties and it has all of the amenities that a traveler would expect.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Whenever I come to a hotel for the first time, I’m always given a folder with the history of the property and some information about their present services. Invariably there is a listing inside of the rich and famous people who have stayed at the hotel.  And I always read the list.  Inquiring minds need to know.  I assume at the base of this is the assumption is that if we stay here that someday we will become rich and famous too. Here is the list from the Palliser and it seems perfectly normal.  There’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The Kings of Sweden, Norway, and Spain.  Famous entertainers.  But there are three names on the list that just stopped me cold... get this... Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and... The San Diego Chicken.  Well, I'm not going to touch Mickey or Donald, but I feel that the only appropriate response for the San Diego Chicken is a recipe.

The Palliser chef is Scott Brown, and the recipe is for chicken breasts stuffed with Fontina cheese, basil and dried tomatoes.  First... the small strip of meat on a chicken breast that is called a fillet is removed from the breast... and lightly pounded between two pieces of plastic wrap.  A piece of fontina cheese is placed onto the meat, followed by some chopped basil and a few dried tomatoes.  The ends are folded up, and the sides rolled in.  The stuffed fillet goes into the freezer for thirty minutes.  A pocket is cut into the remainder of the chicken breast.  When the frozen fillet comes out of the freezer it goes into the pocket.  The stuffed breasts are dredged in flour and set into three ounces of oil that have been heated in a sauté pan.  Two minutes of cooking on each side... and the pan goes into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for twenty minutes.  While the chicken is in the oven, a sauce is made.  Two tablespoons of oil go into a hot sauté pan followed by a quarter cup of minced shallots or onion... three minced garlic cloves... and a half cup of dried tomatoes.  That cooks for three minutes... then two cups of chicken stock go in, plus two tablespoons of chopped basil.  The heat gets turned up and the sauce cooks until the volume is reduced by half.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  What a great smell!  Basil and dried tomatoes -- it’s a marriage made in heaven.    

The reduced sauce goes into a blender and gets pureed.   At this point Scott adds a few tablespoons of butter to the sauce, but it's purely an optional addition. I made the recipe without it and it was just fine.  The sauce passes through a strainer and the plating begins.  First, a mold of corn meal and wild rice and some grilled vegetables.  The chicken comes out of the oven and gets sliced into thirds. The sauce goes onto the plate, then the chicken... and the dish is ready to serve.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  This is Heritage Park, and it’s a wonderful re-creation of what Calgary looked like in the old days.  If you take a look at this spot, and some of the other places we visited, you get a really good look at what western Canada is really like.  And much to the surprise of many visitors, it's very easy to get around here. I used buses, trains and cars...  I had the most fun on canoes, river rafts and horseback.  They also gave me better mileage.  I'm on the road again so I hope you'll join us next time as we travel around the world looking for good things to eat and the reasons why people eat them.  I'm Burt Wolf.

Local Flavors: Ottawa, Canada - #105

BURT WOLF: Every town in the world has a local flavor, a flavor that comes from its signature dishes, from a group of preferred ingredients or a type of restaurant that is popular.  It's a flavor that comes from appreciating a particular piece of equipment or a cooking technique. There are dozens of things that make up a local flavor.  But the most important influences are always the result of history, geography and economics. This is Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.  It's the town to tour of the oldest farmer’s market in the nation.  To taste the beaver tail and find out why it's Ottawa's favorite snack.  To learn why people picnic, and have one of our own, and cook some great tasting food.  So please join me, Burt Wolf, for a taste of the local flavors of Ottawa, Canada. The city of Ottawa sits on the banks of the Ottawa River, between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.  The first Europeans into the area were fur traders who arrived in the 1600s.  They traveled in and out of the territory on the Ottawa River and much of their trading took place at the junction between the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau Rivers, the spot where the city now stands.

Ottawa is actually a native word meaning "the trading place."

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The first settlers showed up in the early 1800s and quickly realized that the high acid content of the soil made it a difficult place to farm.  So they turned to the forests and quickly logged onto the lumber business.  But transporting those logs was where the real money was at.

BURT WOLF: As the raftsmen floated their logs downriver to Montreal, they encountered Ottawa's Chaudiere Falls.  They had to take their rafts apart and then re-assemble them at the bottom of the falls, which gave them an opportunity to stock up on supplies.  And the suppliers of the supplies were the shopkeepers of Ottawa.  During the 1850s, the falls were put to use as the source of power for a series of mills.  At about the same time, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa for Canada's capital, which brought in politicians, lobbyists, businessmen, and the representatives of foreign governments.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Traders on the river, a little farming, a little logging, a little milling, and lots of ministries.  Add to that the immigrants that arrived during the 20th century and you've got the major forces influencing the local flavors of Ottawa.

BURT WOLF: A good spot to start looking at what's cooking in Ottawa is the historic By Ward Market.  Opened in 1846, this is Canada's oldest continuously operated farmer's market, with cobblestone courtyards, historic buildings, and the feeling of a traditional marketplace. In recent years, however, it has become a bustling center for boutique shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.  The By Ward Market building was the original structure where farmers and loggers did business and socialized back in the 1800s.  It's been restored and now houses specialty shops, delis, cafes, and artisans. David McGillivray is the executive chef at the Chateau Laurier and often shops the market for fresh produce.  He does his shopping at 8 a.m., which I consider a reasonable hour, so I tagged along.  We're putting together the ingredients for a picnic menu that we'll cook when we get back from the market. But first, coffee and a croissant at the French baker. Jerome Mantel was working for a real estate developer in Paris when he realized that his true love was baking, not building.  So he enrolled and then graduated from the finest baking school in Paris and he immigrated to Ottawa and opened a French bakery.  His pastry is excellent.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I'm drinking a macchiato.  A macchiato is an espresso with a little bit of warm milk and no foam, as opposed to a cappuccino, which is an espresso with a lot of warm milk and a lot of foam, they were developed by Italian truck drivers who wanted to have a little warm milk in their coffee in the morning but didn't want to pay for it.  So they would order an espresso, and as it was coming they'd say "can I have a little bit of warm milk in there?" I really shouldn't tell this story in a French bakery.  But originally croissants were not French.  In 1680 there was a siege of the city of Vienna by the Turks.  The city was completely surrounded. Nobody could get in or out.  Very early one morning a baker was working in his shop, which was right over the city walls, and he heard something going on under his bakery.  He called the guards.  The Turks were trying to tunnel through. The guards went down, attacked the Turks in the tunnel, and then used the tunnel to counter-attack the main body of the Turkish forces and broke the siege.  And the king of Vienna said to the baker, "I will reward you by giving you the exclusive right to bake a bread in the shape of the crescent on the Turkish flag to show the people of Vienna that every morning we can devour the Turks."

BURT WOLF: After we got out of our breakfast we headed into the market to pick out the foods for our picnic.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: The strawberries are beautiful. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I was reading the other day that they've been picked by people since neolithic times.  But they were teeny little things that you had to eat right where you found them because they were so delicate you couldn't carry them.  And during the Middle Ages they were thought of as a medicine.  That's kind of interesting to me, because now scientists are telling us they're high vitamin C and potassium and fiber and that they may be cancer blockers.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: This is what we're looking for.


DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Home-grown tomatoes.  When I buy tomatoes, the one thing I check for is the smell.  I like to smell the plants. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: It smells like a tomato.


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: It's a tomato.



DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: So we are going to need some tomatoes for our picnic.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Look at this cauliflower.  Are they beautiful?

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Beautiful, for sure.  Snow white.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Somebody once said that cauliflower was a cabbage with a college education.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: I would agree with that.  I would definitely agree with that.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Because a cabbage puts all of its energy into the leaves


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And here you put all the energy into the flower.


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And speaking of cabbage we have to get some because we're going to make coleslaw.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: That's right. We'll need to get some.





WOMAN ON CAMERA: Fine. Yourself?

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Good.  Could I get a head of fresh cabbage, please.

WOMAN ON CAMERA: Yes.  How many?  One?

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Just one is fine. Thank you.

WOMAN ON CAMERA: Which one you want?

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: I would like ... this one looks pretty good. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Now, what did you see that you liked about that?

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: I didn't see any holes in the leaves.

WOMAN ON CAMERA: Fine.  Thank you. Have a good day, sir.



DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Look at the beautiful zucchini, too. You know, in the market, a lot of the vendors sell maple syrup.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY: And the reason for that is the Northeast and North America is the only place on the globe where you can produce maple syrup.

BURT WOLF: And I gather it's not just because of the trees, because you can find maple trees other places.  It's that balance of temperature where you have very hot days and very cold nights,

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: and that makes the sap run in sufficient quantities. It's actually just the opposite with me.  

BURT WOLF: Ah, yes, the Beaver Tail. A local variation on an ancient dish that has become a signature food in Ottawa. Pastry dough stretched out, deep fried in soy oil, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  It is similar to the classic deep fried French pastry called the beignet or a galette,  which is a similar dough that was pan fried by Canadian trappers during the 1700s. 


So how did these get started?

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Well, it’s an old family recipe, actually, the Hooker family.  Grant Hooker's grandmother from Germany immigrated and brought the reci ... emigrated from Germany and brought the recipe with her.  And then in 1980 they opened their first booth, and that's the original booth right there.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I read that they had franchised them  into 100 places all over the world.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Apparently so. They're very, very popular.  

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: It's like a donut that a truck ran over.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Sort of, yeah.  A very good donut. They're extremely popular, especially in the wintertime on the Rideau Canal with all the ice skaters. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Canal freezes over.

DAVID McGILLIVRAY ON CAMERA: Exactly.  That's what they ...

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: You come and you have a hot beaver tail.


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Not a very attractive name, but it's quite a tasty dish.

MAN ON CAMERA: Uh-huh.  It's an Ottawa institution.

BURT WOLF: Properly stocked, we headed back to the Chateau Laurier kitchen to start cooking for the picnic.  David has already prepared an herb roasted chicken, and I'll tell you how to get the written recipe for it and all the other dishes in this series at the end of the program.  Next, quick bread cranberry muffins. Until late 1800s breads were raised with yeast, air trapped in well-beaten eggs, or baking soda.  Then in 1892 a German pharmacist named August Oetker introduced the first successful version of baking powder.  It was foolproof while the other rising agents weren’t.  And it was quick. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Breads that were made with baking powder became known as quick breads.  And when it comes to muffins, that is certainly the operative word. The ingredients are mixed together quickly and lightly for maximum tenderness, and then baked off in small cups where they bake much faster than they would if they were in a large pan.

BURT WOLF: David is using a Silverstone 12-cup muffin tin which we tested for “The New Cooks’ Catalogue”.  It's non-stick, its seamless cups are bonded securely to the frame, each one is almost three inches across, and holds about four ounces ... just right for regular-size muffins. David is also making minted coleslaw.  The word coleslaw comes from the Dutch word "koolsla," "kool" meaning cabbage and "sla" meaning salad.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA:  It shows up in North American cooking as early as 1790.  Cabbage was very popular with the settlers because it stayed fresh and crisp well into the winter, long after other vegetables had been lost to frost. 

BURT WOLF: Cabbage and carrots are cut in a food  processor, which can be used to slice vegetables, grate cheese, make mayonnaise, and chop parsley in a fraction of the time it takes to do these jobs by hand. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Full-sized food processors start with a nine-cup capacity, but I think you will find the 11 to 14-cup capacity a lot more versatile. Food processors are classed according to the amount of dry ingredients that the work bowl will hold.  But the amount of liquid ingredients it will hold is half of the dry ingredient.  That's because if you add liquids above the edge here of the blade housing it's quite possible for the liquid to drip out while the processor is running.

BURT WOLF: All food processors come equipped with a clear plastic bowl that locks onto the base, which houses the motor.  The most effective and powerful machines have a work bowl and blade that sit directly on top of the motor rather than to one side.  They also have a lid with a feed tube for adding ingredients to the work bowl while the machine is running, an S-shaped blade for chopping, and an assortment of disks for slicing and shredding.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: A food processor will chop an onion or make a pastry dough, but it will not puree a soup into the smooth and silky texture that a blender will, and it's really not good for mashed potatoes.  Mashed potatoes should be processed in a potato ricer. 

BURT WOLF: The cabbage and the carrots are combined with raisons, mint and parsley.  Vinegar, oil, salt and pepper are blended and then mixed with the cabbage.  All that rests together for an hour and it's ready to join the chicken and the muffins on the picnic.

When it comes to unstructured meals, the preparation and presentation of a picnic is one of our most unstructured.  Like most of our gatherings and celebrations, picnics illustrate our desire to bring together the opposites in our lives. We like the idea of quitting our structured, civilized environment and traveling into the wilderness.  A picnic allows us to feel free and adventurous, while at the same time maintaining a nice safe structure in which we feel secure.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Ah, this is a huge tract of land with a grassy knoll.  What do you think about this grassy knoll here? Okay. 

BURT WOLF: Picking a proper place for a picnic has a lot to do with cultural heritage.  The English, for instance, were heavily influenced by the romantic and Victorian poets, so they always wanted a place with a magnificent view.  They wanted to be close to nature. We love the idea of being one with nature.  But the moment we get out there, the first thing we do is try to separate ourselves from it. We mark off our territory with a picnic cloth. We even hold down the edges with something that will act as a boundary stone. Then we take advantage of the gastronomic gifts of the countryside by covering the cloth with foods we cooked at home. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: You know, what we're really doing is we're trading the discomfort of our formal enclosed dining rooms and restaurants for prickly grass, sharp stones, biting insects, and undependable weather.  There's a lot to be said for the old saying "a change of aggravation is like a holiday."

BURT WOLF: At the other end of the spectrum would be a dinner party at an embassy.  And since Ottawa is the capital of Canada and all the foreign embassies are right here, I thought I'd see if I could get someone to throw a party for me so I could show you the other half of the story.  My in to the embassy life in Ottawa was Margaret Dickenson, whose husband Larry has been in the Canadian Government for over three decades, and was an ambassador for eight years. Most important, however, Margaret is the author of “From The Ambassador's Table”, a book that is a blueprint for entertaining.  The party is going to be given at the residence of the Mexican ambassador to Canada, and Margaret is preparing a few specialties from her book to add to the menu. 

MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Well, we're going to make chocolate apricot oysters.  You open them up and you simply add a little bit of marzipan to it.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: And  half of a half of  walnut.  And you close the oyster and then you have your apricot oyster.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I heard somewhere the word  chocolate.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Chocolate is coming.  So what I like to do is I like to make a number of them.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Chill them in the refrigerator.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Oh, it doesn't matter ... half an hour.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Just so that the apricots and the marzipan and the walnuts settle together. 


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: And then I dip them.  So you just pick up the apricot by its nose, and you simply bathe the back of the apricot, the underside, and the topside, and you place it onto a sheet of wax paper. And you give it a little shake so that the chocolate's distributed.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I like that little step.


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I could do that.


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Oyster's on the apricot shell.  My favorite.  Mmmm.

WOMAN ON CAMERA: And we're making pancake sachets with smoked salmon.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Okay, let's make 'em.

MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: So I'm going to take some pancakes that I've prepared this morning.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: And I'm just going to add about three quarters of a teaspoon of sour cream to the center of these crepes.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: And a little bit of horseradish mayonnaise, and that's nothing more than one tablespoon of horseradish relish and a cup of mayonnaise.  And I'm going to add about half a teaspoon.  And then some smoked salmon.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Any particular kind of smoked salmon you like?

MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Oh, Canadian smoked salmon, of course.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Sorry I asked.  Okay. 

MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Yes, indeed.  And then we're going to tie them into little sachet.  So to do this I just pick up the circumference of the crepe and I make vertical pleats like that.  You see how the crepes are actually standing up?  The trick is to keep it all at the same level.  And I'm ... I'm holding it now with my left hand and all the contents are in this ball.  Taking a chive stem, just place it between your little finger and the next finger and just catch it there. Wrap it around the sachet, just above the contents, and simply knot the chive. Trim off the little tails.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: That's it.  That's wonderful.  Yeah.

MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Isn't that nice? And we can just add it to our little box of pancake sachets.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Strawberries on basil carpets.


MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Doesn't that sound exotic?

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Yep.  Let's go.

MARGARET DICKENSON ON CAMERA: Okay.  So I take the strawberries and I cut them in half and I bathe them for about five minutes in this sugar-vinegar syrup.  Now, you can see that that's going to be used as my glue.  Because when I add the basil leaves, they go on like that, and they won’t worry about slipping off the spoons.  And then we add another touch of almond cream cheese and just plant a piece of a toasted almond into the sour cream to hold into position. And finally we take our strawberries and you add them to the spoons, planting them down securely.  And you have strawberries on basil carpets.

BURT WOLF: The dinner party is being given by his excellency, Ezequiel Padilla, ambassador of Mexico to Canada, and his wife Carmen.  Their chef is Raul Guerrero, and he's going to give me a lesson in tortilla making.  The tortilla is the ancient bread of Mexico, and the fresher they are the better.  As you might expect, the kitchen at the residence prepares them for almost every meal. The dough is made by mixing together masa herina flour and water, and then rolling that mixture into walnut-sized balls.  The essential piece of equipment is a simple heavy-duty tortilla press like this one.  It consists of two rounds of flat-cast aluminum plates with a hinge at one end and a long handle at the other.  Most presses operate on a simple mechanism.  When pressure is exerted on the handle, the two flat plates of the press force the dough into a flat disk.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Building up those muscles.

BURT WOLF: Raul is also preparing a classic salsa, and he believes that the best texture can only be obtained with the use of a lava stone, mortar and pestle.  The traditional Mexican mortar and pestle looks like a pre-Colombian artifact.  Made of porous, rough textured dark gray volcanic stone, these tools are still preferred by serious Mexican cooks for blending and grinding together sauce ingredients, ingredients that would lose much of their texture if they were pureed in a blender.  If you enjoy cooking Mexican recipes at home, you will love these tools. 


BURT WOLF: A party like this is about structure and position.  The first hour is set aside for cocktails and introductions.  The hostess introduces the guests. This is the first moment where your place in the structure is indicated. Introductions take place with the lower rank being introduced to the upper rank, as in "your majesty, I would like you to meet Burt Wolf," as opposed to "Hey, Burt, meet the king." When the cocktail hour is over we are ushered towards the dining room. The butler stands at the entrance with a chart that tells each person where they are seated.  They go directly to their place.  The place cards confirm that you are where you should be.  But how did this get to be your proper place? Well, that decision was made by the host and the hostess according to a set of rules.  The highest ranking female sits to the right of the male host.  The highest ranking male sits to the right of the  female host. And that process continues. Boy, girl, right rank until the table is completed.  The side of the seating card that faces the table also has your name just in case anyone forgets who you are.  The flatware is placed according to use.  The implements you need first are on the outside and you eat your way in.  Except for the spoon and fork at the top of your place, which will be used at dessert.  Bread plate to your left, wine glasses to your right. The candles are here to add a soft light to the table, but they are also here to remind people that life the candles burns brightly but only for a limited time, and then it's snuffed out. We should enjoy being together while we can. The first course was a mousse made from a fungus that grows on corn.  Now, that doesn't sound so good, but it tasted great.  And it was helpful to keep in mind that mushrooms and truffles are basically in the same category as this fungus. The second course was a zucchini flower soup. The salsa was on the table and fresh tortillas were passed.  The main course was salmon with cilantro sauce, asparagus and wild rice.  Dessert was fruit pastry blossoms with fresh mango.  Along with the dessert came a music course.

Well, that's a small taste of Ottawa's local flavors.  I hope you have enjoyed it, and I hope you will join me next time.  I'm Burt Wolf.    

If you would like free copies of the recipes from this program, or hundreds of other recipes from Burt’s programs, to read his special reports from around the world and interviews with leading food authorities or to order a copy of The New Cooks’ Catalogue, a critical guide that tells you what to look for when purchasing cooking equipment and utensils, with over 1,000 color photographs and recipes, just visit Burt online at BURTWOLF.COM.

Eating Well: Montreal and Quebec - #105

BURT WOLF: Quebec is the oldest of Canada's provinces and home ground to two of the world's great towns, Montreal and Quebec City. Its the place to take a look at the only spot in North America declared a World Heritage Treasure. To find out why the French Army never lets its cooks go into battle. To discover the reason that trees turn color in the fall and what those trees can teach us about the relationship of food to good health. We'll get the recipe for the traditional sugar pie and find out how yogurt got its reputation as a health food. Join me, Burt Wolf, Eating Well in Montreal and Quebec City.

BURT WOLF: During the middle of the 1500's, a sea captain by the name of Jacques Cartier was sent by the King of France to find a new ocean passage to India. In those days finding an ocean passage to India was very important. India was where spices came from and spices were very valuable. To bring those spices from India to Europe on the Overland Route was time consuming, dangerous and very expensive. If somebody could come up with a new ocean passage to India that would be worth big bucks. 

As Cartier sailed west, he bumped into Canada and headed into the Saint Lawrence River hoping that India was at the other end. Nice try, but not quite. He got as far as the Lachine Rapids near Montreal. Nevertheless, as a result of Cartier's explorations, Montreal and Quebec City were founded and set up as trading posts, military bases and staging areas for further explorations. Explorers who came from these settlements mapped huge parts of what eventually became the United States. When guys in New York were still looking for Brooklyn, the French scouts had already travelled down the Mississippi all the way to New Orleans. During the middle of the 1700's a war between England and France spilled over into North America. The French troops were defeated right near here outside Quebec City. The English troops were under the control of General James Wolfe, no relation, the French troops were under the direction of the Marquis de Montcalm, also no relation. Unfortunately, both men were killed during the battle.

Today in Quebec City there is a unique memorial to these two soldiers, the only statue in the world commemorating both the winner and the loser of the same battle.

At the end of the war the English insisted that the French give up something. The French had to choose between their property in Canada and their sugar islands in the Caribbean. They decided to give up their property in Canada because they assumed that nothing going on in Canada would ever be as valuable as the sugar on their sugar islands. Well at the time, it wasn't such a bad decision, because sugar was very expensive. These days however, with sugar being pennies per pound, it wasn't so great. I guess once again it proves that a sweet tooth, totally uncontrolled, leads to bad choices. The end result of all of this, however, is that for the past 250 years, Quebec has been influenced by both French and English culture.

The first colonists to arrive in Canada were not wealthy people; for the most part they were members of religious orders... farmers who were looking for a better piece of land, and orphaned girls under the protection of the King of France who were sent here to marry the settlers. Let’s face it, if you were rich and famous and having a great time in Paris, you're not moving off into a wilderness no matter how good a deal the landlord gives you. And those French Canadian cooks who first arrived here were under a lot of pressure. They had to get their kitchen work done as quickly and efficiently as possible and get onto the other essential tasks in their life. Not unlike the pressures facing today's modern cook.

The result was an honest food style that balanced the advantages of the natural ingredients of the area, the French family's love of good food and the pressures of time, budget and long winters. The cooking of the Province of Quebec became a classic regional cuisine that is perfectly tuned and retuned to meet the needs of the people.

Most of the recipes contain only a few simple ingredients which are easily assembled, cooked slowly and don't require much additional attention. Soups, stews, meat pies and desserts based on fruit. The cooks in Quebec are masters of the one-pot meal, an approach that's as valid today as when they first arrived here some 350 years ago. One of the most famous one-pot meals of Quebec is a meat pie. Traditionally it’s made in a big pan for an entire family. But Chef Michel Lanoux of Montreal's Ritz Carlton Hotel prepares the recipe as individual servings. Three bowls are set out. One with small cubes of veal, one with small cubes of chicken and one with small cubes of beef. Each of those gets seasoned with some chopped shallots and a selection of fresh herbs. Thyme, parsley, basil, chives, tarragon. If you like the flavor, mix it in. Then a layer of the beef cubes goes into a pie-form lined with pastry dough. Next a layer of cubed potatoes. Then some chicken, another layer of potatoes, and the veal and finally a top layer of dough. The dough is scored with a decorative pattern and a hole is made in the center to let out the steam that builds up during the cooking. A little eggwash and into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. When it comes out, the form comes off, and the meat pie is served with a brown sauce and some cranberries.

The first settlement built by the French explorers in North America was Quebec City. Cartier saw the area in 1535 when native Algonquins took him to a spot to show him how the river narrowed. The Algonquin word for narrowing river is Quebec. The real father of Quebec City, however, was Samuel DeChamplain who showed up in the early 1600's and immediately recognized the strategic military advantages of the neighborhood. He set up a fort to trade for fur with the natives and to do some shipbuilding. 

Quebec City's military history has given it a number of dramatic structures. The city gates and the city walls are still standing, but most sensational is the Citadel. It was built in the 1820's under direct orders from the Duke of Wellington who became famous not only for his defeat of Napoleon, but for his Beef Wellington, a tenderloin covered with chopped mushrooms wrapped in pastry and baked to perfection. The Citadel is the largest fortified base in North America still occupied by troops. It's the home of the Royal 22nd Regiment... the only completely French-speaking regiment in the Canadian Army.

The temperaments of the British and French military are very different in many ways. But none more so than when it comes to food. When they were battling it out here in Canada during the 1700's, the British felt that food was the responsibility of the individual soldier. “Scavenge about and feed yourself” was their attitude. But the French, on the other hand, assigned a skilled chef to each unit. And that chef was never allowed to go into battle. The theory was that if a military man was killed, he could easily be replaced by another military man. But if the chef was killed, then dinner was murder. And the French already knew that an army travelled on its stomach. This is the officer's mess. The word mess comes from an ancient Latin term used to describe a course or a particular dish at that course. During the 1500's, it was used in England to mean a meal eaten by a group of people, usually at midday and always with one dish of meat. In North America it came to mean a military eating area. And during the 1940's, it was regularly used to describe my mother's cooking.

The guys here in the Royal 22nd don't do badly; napkins folded in the shape of the French Fleur De Lis, elegant flatware on picture perfect placemats. Silver candelabras, the commander's chair just a little bit higher than all the rest, sitting under a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. This room reminds me that military history has a strange way of repeating itself. Once again these officers are fighting the battle of the bulge.

Today Quebec is the only fortified city in North America. Set on top of a massive headland that dominates the majestic waters of the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec City is one of the most charming, romantic and beautiful cities in the Americas. In recognition of the area's extraordinary historic importance, UNESCO has declared old Quebec as a World Heritage Treasure. Its the only city in North America to have received that honor. As you walk through the streets of Quebec City, you are surrounded by beauty and history. Many of these buildings are over three hundred years old. Their copper roofs, striking steeples, everlasting stone walls and impressive wooden doors were once at the very center of the new world. Towns like Boston and Philadelphia were unimportant by comparison. This was where it was happening. The Basilica Notre Dame De Quebec has the oldest parish in North America, dating back to 1647. The building is on the edge of an area known as the city's Latin Quarter. The reason a Latin Quarter is called the Latin Quarter is because at some point in time, it was home to students who were attending a seminary, a seminary where only Latin was used in class. And to make sure that they were ready for their studies, they only spoke Latin all of the time. And that's why the place became known as the Latin Quarter.

Enjoying yourself in Quebec City is not difficult. Tourism is a major activity for the town, and its residents are tuned into the needs of travellers. Nowhere is that attention to hospitality and politeness more apparent than at the Loews Le Concorde Hotel. Its situated on a street called the Grand Allee, which is the city's main boulevard. Many of the most important historic sites surround the base of the building. On the top of Le Concorde is a revolving restaurant called L’Astral. It offers guests some of the more spectacular views of Quebec.

French culture is clearly the dominant influence in the Canadian province of Quebec, with British tradition running a close second. But Quebec has been home to massive migrations from all over the world. People have come here from Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Greece, the countries of Africa, the Islands of the Caribbean and India. Over eighty different populations have migrated to this part of the world. As a matter of fact, as a percentage of its population, Quebec has taken in and protected more people from political and economic hardship than any other area in the world.

The point was clearly made in the kitchens of the Loews Le Concorde Hotel. The pastry chef is from Tangiers, the Sous Chefs are from France, Switzerland and Martinique and the Executive Chef is from India. The result is an exchange of ideas and techniques that produce some outstanding dishes. One of the Sous Chefs, Driss Benmou is from Morocco, but he feels right at home in Quebec because he speaks the international language of dessert, and uses it to produce one of the classic sweets of the area -- sugar pie. A quarter cup of maple syrup and an ounce of butter go into a hot sauce pan and are stirred together until the mixture starts to boil. And in goes a half cup of cream, a half cup of milk, two cups of maple sugar and a half cup of flour. Those ingredients are mixed together and brought to a boil. At which point they're poured into a pie pan lined with your favorite pastry dough. A lattice of pastry dough goes on top and into a 375 degree oven for forty minutes. When the pie comes out, you let it cool to room temperature and its ready to serve.

The Executive Chef in the Loews kitchen is Nanak Chand Veg, who's from India. Today he's preparing chicken baked in yogurt sauce. 

Three cloves of minced garlic go into a bowl, plus a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger. Fresh ginger is usually sold in amounts that are larger than what you would use for a single recipe. The best way to store the remaining ginger is to peel off the outer skin, cut the ginger into small chunks, and put them into a jar of sherry wine. And into the refrigerator. That should keep the ginger fresh for about three months. 

Back to the baked chicken. Continue by adding in one tablespoon each of red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika, turmeric, shallots and rosemary. A half cup of lemon juice and a pint of low-fat yogurt. All that is mixed together and transferred into a heat-proof dish. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are put into the yogurt mixture covered with foil and set to marinate overnight. Next day the dish goes into a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour. When it comes out, the chicken breasts are ready to serve over rice and vegetables with the sauce on top. 

The yogurt in that dish became popular in western cooking as the result of the work of a Frenchman named Louis Pasteur. 

Louis Pasteur was a Parisian chemist who developed the technique of vaccination. He also invented the process of Pasteurization which extends the shelf life of milk products. In the 1880's the Pasteur Institute was founded to continue his work.

In 1908, Doctor Ilya Metchnikoff won a Nobel Prize for the work that he was doing at the institute. His books and papers on longevity and avoiding the problems of premature aging led him to study various populations around the world. Eventually he came to the conclusion that the Bulgarians lived longer because they ate lots of yogurt. Metchnikoff pointed out that yogurt helped purify the large intestines and introduced substantial amounts of Vitamin B. So it was good old Ilya Metchnikoff who first described yogurt as a health food. At one point a friend of his, a Spaniard named Isaac Carasso bought some cultures from the Institute and began manufacturing yogurt commercially for the European market. When the Second World War broke out, his son took some cultures from his father moved to the United States and began manufacturing yogurt for the North America market. The kid’s name was Dan. His company -- Dannon. 

Today Chef Laneux is using yogurt to make one of his favorite desserts. An egg yolk is blended together with a quarter cup of sugar. Two cups of plain non-fat yogurt is whisked in. That mixture is heated to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about the temperature of a baby's bottle. Then in go two tablespoons of low- fat cream cheese, and some gelatin. The blend is whisked over a bowl of ice to help thicken it. Next a cup and a half of skim milk that has been whipped to a froth in a blender is added in. An inch-thick layer of the yogurt mixture goes into a mold with a disc of sponge cake on the bottom and layer of fresh fruit. A second layer of the yogurt mixture and into the refrigerator for 3 to 5 hours or overnight. When it comes out, the ring comes off and it’s decorated with slices of fresh fruit. A thin coating of warm apricot jam is painted on the fruit; that's an old technique for protecting the sliced fruit from the air, which would cause it to turn color. Dr. Metchnikoff would definitely call this a healthful recipe.

Each fall the trees of North America burst into color. A spectacular display of Mother Nature at work. And nowhere is it more beautiful than in the forest of the Canadian province of Quebec. Tourists come here from all over the world and drive along the roads, enjoying the neighborhood's autumn leaves. All summer long, the trees feed their leaves with nutrients so they can process sunlight. But as the days get shorter, the trees begin to plan for winter and they start to store their nutrients in their trunks and in their roots. The leaves stop producing a green substance called chlorophyll. As the green disappears we begin to see the other colors that were actually there all the time, but hidden by the chlorophyll. The same red pigment that colors apples begins to stand out. 

Trees have a lot to teach us about life. Many years ago a Native American guide told me that it is more important to listen and learn from the trees than from the animals. When the animals have a problem with their environment, they just pick up and move on. But trees are stuck in the same place, so they pay a lot more attention to what's going on. The autumn trees in particular have a lot to teach us about the relationship of good food and good health. First of all, the colors of different foods tell us about the nutrients in those foods. The more different colors we eat, the better off we are. And the daily intake of fruits of vegetables that are orange and yellow, appears to decrease the risk of a number of different types of cancers. Dark green leafy vegetables are also important. We should also remember that as we get older, our autumn years, our need for good nutrition is more important than ever. Our bodies don't burn calories the way we did when we were younger and so lots of people decrease the amount of calories that they eat. But those calories should be packed with vitamins and minerals. Pay more and more attention to your diet as you get older. We should also remember what we learned from the tree in terms of paying attention to your roots. For thousands and thousands of years, we ate a diet that was high in complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables and very low in fat. It's a good idea to follow that diet these days, it will give you a better shape to your trunk.

Fall is definitely the time for leaves here in Quebec, but it is also the time for apples. The early settlers arriving on the northeast coast of North America quickly realized that this was the perfect area for apple growing.

The apple is actually a member of the rose family and is often used as a symbol for fruits in general. For centuries whenever a new fruit was discovered it was called an apple until a more appropriate name was found. At different points in time, the word apple was used to describe avocados, dates, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, peaches and even potatoes. Here in Quebec where the official language is French, a potato is called a Pomme de Terre, which translates as “apple of the earth.” Contrary to popular belief there is no mention of the apple in the Genesis chapter of the Bible. All the Adam and Eve story says is that Adam was tempted by Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Historians believe that at some point in time, a painter had to give a more specific bit of imagery to the story and since then, the apple has taken the rap.

The images of a religion and the desire to have those images recognized in new lands around the world has been responsible for a great deal of exploration.

In 1642, a soldier by the name of Maisonneuve was hired by a French religious organization known as the Societe De Notre Dame De Paris to come to North America. He was asked to Christianize the native tribes. He arrived here in the area that eventually became Montreal with fifty-three brave and devoted souls. The place soon became a center for fur trappers, traders and explorers. At the very center of the new settlement, was the Sulpician Seminary. It's the oldest building in Montreal and it is still the residence of the Sulpician father. It's a fine example of rustic 17th Century architecture. And the clock on the roof over the main doorway is the oldest public timepiece in North America. For two hundred years the Sulpicians were the political power in the city. And for a very simple reason: they owned all the land. Down the street is the Notre Dame Basilica, an enormous structure that can seat up to four thousand people. It holds the largest bell in North America. The twelve ton, Gros Bourdon.

The towers each have a specific name; one is called Temperance, the other Perseverance.

Excellent concepts for religion and just as valuable when it comes to eating. More than any other idea, temperance is the key to proper diet. Each month the scientific community releases more information that clearly indicates that there are no good foods and there are no bad foods. There are just improper amounts. Temperance is the objective so just Persevere in that direction.

"As American as apple pie" is a common phrase, but not particularly accurate. You find apple pies in the cooking of dozens of countries around the world. What would be much more precise would be is “American as maple syrup,” a food that can only produced in the northeastern part of North America. It's not that you don't find maple trees in other countries, you certainly do. But it's not just the maple tree that produces maple syrup. It's an unusual balance of temperatures. You need very hot days and very cold nights. And that causes the maple sap to run in sufficient quantities to make it worthwhile to tap a maple tree.

The variation in temperature around the freezing point acts like a heat pump and turns a maple tree into the big dripper. Only human beings and squirrels have figured out how to tap a maple tree.

Colonists learned the technique from the Native American tribes and put it to immediate use. Before maple syrup there were only three major forms of sweetener: sugar, molasses and honey. Sugar and molasses came up from the Caribbean and were very, very expensive. Honey required bee keeping and that was major piece of work. Almost every colonist, on the other hand, had access to a couple of maple trees, and that made maple syrup a freebie. And the sweetener of choice. 

Just outside of Montreal is a maple sugar production facility called La Sucrerie de la Montagne. It belongs to Pierre Foucher and his family. BURT WOLF: Pierre, what happens here?

PIERRE: Well Burt, here all the trees that surround us here are maple trees that we tap every springtime to gather the sap and make maple syrup. So in the springtime in the month of March, we'll drill a hole in the tree not deeper than two or three centimeters and we'll put the spigot in the top in like this, inside the tree. And then we do four thousand of those tappings. Two thousand five hundred tappings on my farm and one thousand four hundred tappings on my neighbor's farm across the street when he goes to Florida.

BURT WOLF: Does your neighbor know you're tapping his trees?

PIERRE: Well, he's not supposed to.


PIERRE: And then we hitch up our horses to a sleigh and on the sleigh we put it on, we wear our snowshoes and we go from tree to tree to pick this up. We'll pick around four to twelve tons of sap in one day, we'll take it to the shop over here and evaporate it with fire. It takes forty gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of maple syrup. So that's what it all boils down to.

BURT WOLF: But the Sucrerie is more than a maple forest; it's also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. Each day throughout the year, people arrive at the edge of the property, and are transported by horse-drawn wagon to the main building, a 100-year-old restored barn. 

Inside, a rustic banquet hall offers an ongoing folkloric festival. Music, singing, stories and the traditional foods of the province of Quebec. Bread that's baked in an old fashioned wood-burning oven. Pea soup, smoked ham, sausages, meat pies, homemade ketchup and pickles. Dessert crepes and lots of maple syrup. 

The architectural style of the late 17th Century Renaissance was used for the Parliament Building that seats the National Assembly of the Province of Quebec. Above the entrance are the words Je Me Souviers, which translates into English as “I remember.”

It’s a reference to the remembrance of Quebec's French heritage and the new France of the sixteen and seventeen hundreds that dominated the commercial and cultural life of North America, it's also a reminder to remember what we saw here in terms of eating well. 

Temperance and Perseverance are two keys to proper diet. There are no good or bad foods, only inappropriate amounts. The color of a food can tell you about the nutrients within. The more different colors in our diet, the better off we are. Fruits and vegetables that are orange, yellow and green are very important in terms of good health. Low-fat yogurt, easy to digest, a good source of calcium and other valuable nutrients. And remember our roots: lots of complex carbohydrates, small amount of fat.

That's eating well in Quebec City and Montreal Canada; please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for things that make it easier for us to eat well. I'm Burt Wolf.