The weather has been pretty hit or miss the last few days, but summer is apparently on its way to Manitoba! Over the last few weeks I’ve been enviously reading various Peggers’ tweets about their first few trips to the lake of the season, and they often involve what meals they’re making. This got me to thinking about some edibles that I’ve come to associate with Manitoba, and specifically, summertime in our lovely province.
I first heard about bag tacos from a teacher friend of mine whose students are big on these sinfully delicious yet junky “salads”. Basically, you take a bag of Doritos, crush them up a bit, and add taco meat, veggies, salsa, sour cream, etc.. Shake it up, and voila, a self-contained, no-plates-required meal. I didn’t think they were a particularly Manitoban thing (my sister said she’s heard folks in California call them “walking tacos”) until I read a post by Kath at Food Musings, who talked about tacos in a bag and said a friend of hers got the idea from attending pow wows around the province. And then! I saw them on the menu at Sub Zero Ice Cream, so in my mind, they’re now associated.
When we’re at my husband’s aunt’s cottage, once the sun goes down and the fire is in full swing, it’s campfire pie time! A campfire pie is basically a toasted sandwich made in a special iron – but it’s the pie filling inside that makes it such a treat. Campfire pie is such a beloved part of the family that it was actually mentioned in a relative’s obituary.
I do believe the only fish I’ve ever caught in my life was a pickerel. I was probably 10 or so, and my granddad took me fishing during a visit to their house in Lac du Bonnet. My grandma cleaned it up, pan-fried it, and I ate it proudly. Ah, the tasty pickerel, also known as the walleye. For our honeymoon, my husband and I spent a few days at the (now defunct?) Radisson Hecla Oasis Resort, and I must have had pickerel at every meal. Pickerel is one of the few readily available local fish here in our landlocked province, and you often see it featured as food fit for a 100-mile diet. When Little Gray Bird pointed to pickerel cheeks as a Manitoba delicacy, I knew I had to add it to the list. I recommend the pickerel fish and chips at Lobby on York. Mmm…
Before I moved here, the standard nothing-fancy beer was what I now think of as Alberta Pilsner (usually referred to as “Pil”, but actually called “Old-Style Pilsner”). But when it comes to curling or lakeside lounging, the beer around here is OV (Old Vienna). I’d never heard of it before, and to be honest, it really is nothing special. Cheap, but not suspiciously cheap. It has a reputation for the kind of beer that old men drink. In fact, I once saw it listed as the special for “Drink your dad’s beer” night at Boston Pizza. Now, Manitoba does have lots of excellent locally-made beers (Half Pints, Fort Garry), and they’re special in the same way that Big Rock is an Alberta classic and Granville Island (and Steamworks… salivate…) are musts in BC. But call me crazy — when I think of Manitoba’s signature, no-frills beer, I think of OV. (I suspect this is completely due to my in-laws!)
Again, I know these items are far from unique to Manitoba, but they remind me of our gorgeous summers. We just got an invitation to the lake — with any luck, I just may sample all these scrumptious things in one day!
What tastes like summer in Manitoba to you?