Since today is Canadian Thanksgiving Monday, I decided to report back on my experience with Maritime summer savoury, an herb that I mentioned in a previous post, naturalized in the Canadian Atlantic provinces from European summer savoury; it may have originally been brought to what is now the province of New Brunswick by French or British settlers. L’Ancienne d’Acadie is an heirloom Canadian variety of summer savoury named after L’Acadie – Acadia, a French colony established in the 1600s, comprising parts of today’s Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island (The Maritimes), as well as the Gaspé peninsula in Quebec, and parts of Maine, in the US. Preserved from generation to generation, l’Ancienne d’Acadie has adapted to the harsh local climate, and transformed into a short, stocky plant with a characteristic strong flavour. Summer savoury is such a staple in Maritimes cuisine that it is known simply as “savoury” in Nova Scotia, and often used instead of salt; traditional dishes such as fish cakes, chicken stew with dumplings (Fricot) and Jigg’s Dinner (salt beef, potatoes, turnips and cabbage) are regularly seasoned with summer savoury, and local people generally use the herb in turkey stuffing, instead of sage. The First Nations people of Mi’kmaq also influenced Acadian cuisine, with the incorporation of native ingredients in dishes such as corn chowder or corn bread, also seasoned, of course, with locally grown summer savoury. I have also mentioned Farmer John’s Herbs, the largest grower and seller of summer savoury in the region, located in the Annapolis Valley in Canning, Nova Scotia; I ordered a jar of their dry summer savoury, a seasoning blend for Acadian Chicken Fricot, and a baking mix for savoury corn bread:
The Acadian Chicken Fricot seasoning was the first product I tried, a few weeks ago; it conveniently came with recipes for the fricot and dumplings:
I followed the recipe pretty much as printed, adding the contents of the seasoning packet after cooking chicken breasts and potatoes together (photo below, left); the only change I made to the stew was that I included sliced carrots (photo below, right):
Also, I omitted the dumplings, which might sound ludicrous, but instead, I baked small biscuits separately, and added them just before serving; I hope the people of Nova Scotia will forgive this malapert action. The summer savoury flavour was a definite feature, and the result was a comforting meal in a bowl:
I was delighted that my younger daughter was able to join us for Thanksgiving this weekend. Her boyfriend is visiting from France, and he wants to learn as much about Canadian culture as he can while in the country, so they both helped prepare our traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal of turkey and trimmings (cranberry sauce from scratch, gravy, baked sweet potatoes, etc.), as shown in the photo at the top of this post. They also prepared the package of Savoury Corn Bread Mix, following the recipe on the back:
The package makes an 8×8 inch tray. The bread had a strong herbal scent, and developed an almost radioactive greenish tinge:
We had mixed feelings about this one, straddling between what we thought were the good, and the bad, aspects of this bread (except for my husband, who simply hated it.) The herb flavour was a little overwhelming, particularly because the bread was quite sweet; my daughter’s boyfriend thought it could have some merit as a dessert, while my daughter concluded she would not make it again. I definitely prefer plain corn bread, and the sweetness made me think of Mexican corn bread, a dessert prepared from fresh corn, not cornmeal (hmm … a post about this is surely in the making now, LOL).
Finally, we made Nova Scotia Style Stuffing (or dressing, rather, since it was baked in a dish, not inside the turkey). It starts as a basic onion-and-celery-with-bread recipe, but then becomes unique with the additions of mashed potatoes and, of course, instead of sage, a generous helping from the jar of dry Maritime summer savoury:
The coarsely mashed potatoes added a different texture, and the dressing was tasty next to the turkey (and veggie turkey, for my daughter, a vegetarian), gravy, and trimmings. It sure was a novelty on our table, especially since I usually prepare my Vegan Mexican Style Stuffing; as a bonus, it was a breeze to keep it vegan, simply by using veggie broth.
Today, I am very thankful because we are all healthy in the family, my older daughter is enjoying her new job in Toronto, and my younger one and her boyfriend are here this Thanksgiving weekend, with my husband and me (and our dog). To all who have taken the time to read this and any other of my posts, thank you so much, wherever you may be, and if you celebrate this holiday, have a very Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is observed in Mexico on October 12, or the closest Day to the weekend, as well as it is in the USA, so students and some workers there, are also enjoying a long weekend. Happy Columbus Day! Feliz Día de la Raza!