Red & White themes have been in the forefront the past two weekends for me. Last weekend marked Canada’s 147th birthday – a day to be proud of everything that makes this country great, and everything that it means to be a Canadian.
Canada Day Weekend was a weekend of sunshine, family time, campfires, mosquito bites, waterfront walks (and a chilly dip!) and lots of kilometres clocked on the odometer – from Peterborough to Bancroft to Cobourg.
We made it to the Cobourg Waterfront Festival, marking my fifth consecutive year of taking in the festivities. While Cobourg is a always lovely place for a stroll, the Festival was a little bit of a let-down. I was most excited to buy cookies from The Shortbread Company, who I came across two summers ago at the Festival and fell madly in love with their cookies. Unfortunately for me, I would’ve had to fork over $14 just to get into the Rotary Club vendor area to buy them. That’s on top of an additional $6 if we wanted to look around the Lion’s Club artist vendor area. We decided to skip them both – I’ll keep my eye open for artisan festivals and farmers’ markets instead – and we opted walk in Downtown Cobourg.
Despite not having my cookie sweet-tooth satisfied, we did find a fantastic hidden-away gem of a restaurant, called The Oasis Bar & Grill. It was down an inviting alleyway on King Street, with a beautiful outdoor patio and a great beach-side feel. I had a frozen lime margarita and lobster poutine – a nice twist on a classic Canadian dish, with lobster, curd, sweet sauce and green onions on sweet potato fries. Their menu boasts lots of dishes that I would love to try: smoked salmon pizza, Mediterranean pasta, and blackened catfish. Mmmm-mmm!
This weekend was another one that I had some fun with celebrating – July 4th, America’s Independence Day. Not so much for the patriotic value, since I don’t have any significant ties to the USA (besides the occasional shopping trip south of the border), but for it being another reason to celebrate!
I hosted a backyard Red, White & Blue dinner party with some friends. I wanted to decorate it more.. ya know, go all out like the Americans seem to do (or at least that’s the impression Pinterest leads me to believe). But living in Canada, the star-spangled banner themed decor just isn’t very abundant, so I made due with some white and blue material, red-white-and-blue pinwheels, and a red and white gingham table cloth. Yes, yes, it looks more French bistro-y than anything else, but it was nice.
I also tried really hard to have foods that I deemed “Americana” – this included a beautiful potato salad and deviled eggs that my friend brought, food from the grill (kabobs, burgers, vegetables), baked beans, watermelon, strawberries, and sangria. I would have loved to have done more: hush puppies, chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, cornbread… but, goodness, we had so much food leftover with what we did have! Maybe for a giant family gathering, I could pull out the American-themed menu again!
My friend also brought the ingredients for an upside-down banana tart that was so delicious, I had to hunt down the recipe myself so that I could keep it in my collection of Kitchen Must-Tries. There are lots of variations posted, but I like Cake Duchess‘ blog, so I went with hers – a rendition from Everyday Food, March 2012. It’s great because you just spend a few minutes assembling, throw it in the oven to bake just before dinner, and then it is warm and heavenly goodness that’s ready to be gobbled up. Serve it up with some vanilla ice cream, and you’re golden.
I love patriotic days. My heart does a little extra-flutter when I hear my own anthem, I feel a huge sense of honour when I stand at the cenotaph every Remembrance Day, and I get pinging tears of pride when Canada scores a winning goal.
I also enjoy seeing other people take pride in their heritage, culture and ancestral ties; and being able to take part myself! That is the great thing about Canada, the ubiquitous melting pot of the world. Everybody that lives here has a history and cultural background of their own – from the multi-generational Europeans, to recent immigrants, to First Nations, we have so much diversity among our people. We are lucky to be exposed to this and have the opportunity to learn and take part in celebrating other nations. I guess St. Patrick’s Day would be a horrible example, but how about Peterborough’s upcoming Caribbean Street Festival? Or the Curve Lake Pow Wow? These are fantastic ways to bring people together, allow them to be exposed to another culture, and show solidarity by honouring other cultures because we all have one thing in common: Canada.
Did you do anything special to celebrate Canada Day or Independence Day this year? What are some of your favourite cultural events?