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Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food Paperback – November 13, 2017
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This beautiful cookbook is both sentimentally specific--featuring hand-written recipes and photographs from Thibault's family--and a smart exploration of the tasty, hearty foodstuffs that nourished and sustained some of Canada's earliest settlers. (The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON) 2017-06-03)
Pantry and Palate is more than a cookbook. It's a story. A story thoughtfully told through prose and recipes ... Each recipe has been lovingly excavated like the individual fragments of a shattered, ancient serving bowl and reconstructed or reinvented thanks to Thibault's intuition and culinary knowledge. Each recipe is easy to follow and understand. (Atlantic Books Today (Halifax, NS) 2017-04-25)
Thibault's book reminds us of not only the importance of Acadian history to Canada, but of the importance of foodways to history. (Chatelaine magazine (Toronto, ON) 2017-08-31)
Thibault's deep yet heartfelt investigation of the cuisine is a standout among Canadian cookbooks published this year. (Quill & Quire Book of the Year (Toronto, ON) 2017-11-15)
About the Author
Simon Thibault is a Halifax-based journalist and radio producer whose work focuses on food. His written work has been featured in The Globe and Mail and East Coast Living. He has contributed to CBC Radio, and The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast. He was also a judge for the 2015 James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Awards. This is his first book.
Noah Fecks is a professional travel, hospitality, and portrait photographer residing in Brooklyn, NY. He has appeared as a guest host with National Geographic Television for the documentary Eat: The Story of Food, and as a featured culinarian on the video series Make Me a Sandwich. Noah recently authored his first book, The Way We Ate, and is currently working on a second title. Noah’s recent clients include The New York Times, Clarkson Potter, Coca-Cola, Rizzoli New York, and Samsung. He enjoys vintage magazines, Seattle, and mismatched silverware.
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My issue with this book is that the recipes are re-interpretations by Thibault, and we do not see the original ingredient lists or any instructions that went with them. For instance, while he understands that his predecessors used red beets in their canning, he has substituted Chioggia beets to use in his recipe and photo shot. (He says he used them because they did not stain his hands…) In the same recipe, where there was no salt in the original, he re-invented it with a teaspoon of table salt to “liven it up”. The recipes he gives us are really not authentic Acadian.
Naomi Duguid had written him a lovely Foreward, but I wonder if she ever really got a chance to read any of his recipe introductions where he describes the original in general terms and then gives us a different recipe. The pickled rhubarb recipe originally was “more like chutney” and had “a lot more sugar and used pure white vinegar”. The author gives us a chutney-like recipe that is totally re-designed, plus another one similar to one he tried and liked in “a restaurant.”
Here is what he says about Mustard Pickles: “The one thing I found the most interesting in the original recipe for Mustard Pickles from Tante Lalie’s notebook was the inclusion of tomatoes. I have to say I omitted them.”
In the bread chapter, it is hard to tell where the recipes came from, although the second recipe is Anadama, and the third is his own creation when he ran out of molasses. The Oat Bread recipe is his own, too. There is a Johnny Cake recipe from his Tante Lalie’s notebook, also two white bread recipes, but it is impossible to tell if any liberties were taken with the ingredient lists.
The headcheese recipe: The heirloom recipe he found “gave very little information on the process of making headcheese, so I went digging into my books” and used the suggestions from “The Whole Beast” by Fergus Henderson. Then he created a recipe based on what he learned from “The Whole Beast” and some memories he had. That is “authentic” what?
Thibault writes well; he has a peaceful and thoughtful way of describing his communion with the original recipes and then he dumps them and gives us something different. Not what I was looking for! Unfortunately, it is NOT an important contribution to the study of food culture and history.
The author uses salted butter in the re-interpreted recipes. Why? While he admits that all salted butters have different salt content, “he knows the salt content of the brand he uses.” Huh? How does a reader come to terms with how much salt to add? So, we do not get the amount of salt that was in the original recipe, nor do we have a clue how much salt to add if we use a different brand from the one that he uses. (We never learn the name of the butter he uses….)
*I received a temporary download of this book from the publisher.
This book includes Canadian classics such as French Canadian Tourtière. There is a excellent recipe for Rhubarb Custard Pie, as well as one for Cranberry Pudding which is perfect for the holidays. The recipe for Scalloped Cabbage is very good and is a perfect winter side dish. There is also a section on breads that are unique and tasty.
The recipes are easy to follow and understand. There are beautiful pictures so cooks can see what their finished dishes should look like. There are also pictures of local color as well as some antique recipes, which gives some personality to the book.
For those who may not be in the mood to cook, this is a great book to read while curling up in a warm corner on a lazy day. On days when one feels adventurous, it contains plenty of mouthwatering recipes and inspiring pictures to satisfy everyone. None of the recipes are particularly difficult, so this is a book suitable for beginning cooks all the way up to advanced; there are recipes that will appeal to everyone, and the recipes actually turn out as expected. Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food will be a nice addition to any cookbook collection.
Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.
Somewhere in my brain, I had linked 'Acadia' to 'Cajun' when it's really the people who had originally lived and settled in the Canadian coastal provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, although some of them would make the trip south to live in Louisiana. Thibault happens to make it a family affair by bringing in the recipes of both his paternal and maternal Acadian grandparents and their respective cousins, whose written-out ingredient and recipe procedures are a little sparse and more about intuition, but Thibault adapts and even elaborates on each dish beautifully.