Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people eat together.” -Guy Fieri
Geography is one of my favorite subjects. I’m a stationary globe trotter, living vicariously through shows like the Amazing Race, or travel specials on PBS. I also like to eat the famous foods from the area whenever I do get to travel to a new place. Our family trip to Chicago was one of my food favorites! Eating a Chicago-styled pizza in the heart of the city was unforgettable! There’s nothing quite like a Chicago Dog, and the Chicago Popcorn was delicious! While I may not be able to jet-set all over the world, I can bring some food and fun to our geography curriculum!
High school geography is quite different than our go at it in elementary or even middle school. What I mean is that while it is definitely not boring, it’s not as hands-on, or project oriented like years ago. Gone are the days of crafts and silly songs to learn geography. Truthfully, I still could do crafts all day long, but my 16 year old….well, not so much. Yes, I’m speaking of my get-it-done kid. Give him the text to read over, the accompanying worksheet to complete, and move on. I get it, sort of. Okay, not really. In my quest to add a little more sparkle and excitement to our current geography curriculum, I didn’t have to go beyond the kitchen. Teenagers love to eat, so let’s devour geography!
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We headed north for our first country of study. With the help of Google and Pinterest, I was able to come up with a fun menu for our trip to Canada without ever leaving the kitchen. To go with the theme, I did grab a couple of decorations to make our little feast a little more festive! The versatile banner and balloons can be used for any global party, and the napkins added a nice touch to our Canadian feast.
You can’t not have maple syrup when celebrating Canadian food! I sprung for authentic syrup straight from Quebec for our special meal. It is thinner than my regular brand, sweet, and has a pure and simple, but rich taste. I also had a side of Canadian bacon. Nothing new to us with that, but that’s about as creative as it gets for me at morning time. I did find it interesting that Canadians don’t call it Canadian bacon, though. It is more commonly called back bacon and peameal bacon. Find out why in this brief article from Huff Post.
Our Canadian lunch certainly wasn’t the healthiest meal, but it was oh so good! What started in Quebec basically turned into Canada’s national dish – Poutine. The delicious street food consists of a good serving of French fries, topped with cheese curds and hot, brown gravy. Believe me, it would definitely fit in here in the South where we like gravy on most everything. In Québec, the term poutine is slang for mess – and messy it is! The history of poutine doesn’t go back very far, but is an interesting read nonetheless. Check it out to understand the explaination “ça va te faire une maudite poutine!“, and probably get a giggle from your teens.
I followed this recipe exactly for the poutine. I’m glad I did, because I believe the taste and texture were exactly as it should be. I will mention that it is time consuming. Peeling and cutting potatoes take time, and the fries are deep fried twice. The twice-fried fries really hold up to the gravy on top without them getting soggy, and they are delicious. One tip about frying that I didn’t realize at the time – three inches of oil in a large pot is a lot! Be sure to grab an extra bottle of cooking oil, because you will need it (and then some). If you are pressed for time, I would say you can still achieve decent results with frozen fries and jarred gravy, just be sure to try them from scratch at some point. They are definitely worth the extra effort!
As if the poutine wasn’t enough potatoes for one day, I ordered Ketchup chips from Amazon. Apparently, Ketchup Chips are something only popular north of the border, and even exclusively only sold through Lays in Canada. I opted for the Herr’s snacked sized bags, as they were more cost effective. And again, there is a story behind this food. There’s definitely a true ketchup taste. If you’re one of those who put ketchup on everything, you will love them!
For dinner I opted for a more familiar dish that included Canada’s most popular fish – Salmon. I went with a recipe that is currently on our meal rotation list that we’ve enjoyed for a few years – Maple Salmon. It is fast, easy, and so good. I even got to use more of the real deal maple syrup from breakfast in this recipe. I also made Bannock, a flat, quick bread made from simple ingredients that I had on hand. The dough was very sticky. Perhaps a little more flour would help. You can fry or bake it. I opted for baking, and I was pleased at how it came out. Kind of plain, as it should be, although any bread is good to me. I served a simple spinach salad to round out the meal, because it’s easy.
Speaking of easy, did you know that Hawaiian Pizza originated in Canada? Yep, a Greek-born Canadian created the dish in 1962. I love pineapple on pizza! If you do nothing else, order Hawaiian pizza from your favorite pizza joint, check out this video, and call it a day. Just don’t tell Gordon Ramsay…..or the President of Iceland that you did!
Dessert & Beverage
Two words. Nanaimo Bars. This was my favorite part of our Canadian feast. Named after the city it was invented in Nanaimo, British Columbia, this no-bake dessert has been hailed as Canada’s most iconic treat. It’s also named Dessert’s Kardashian – famous for being famous, in this history of the Nanaimo Bar. It consists of three layers: a wafer, nut, and coconut crumb base; custard icing in the middle; and a layer of chocolate ganache on top. The only ingredient I was not familiar with was the custard powder. Instant vanilla pudding powder can be substituted, but I opted for the custard powder. I hope to find more recipes to use it in, because it is delicious.
Last, the beverage I chose to try was a non-alcoholic Canadian Apple. It is a simple mixture of apple juice, lemon juice, and maple syrup. It was just okay to me, but still something fun and fitting for out feast.
I hope these recipe links and ideas to Devour Geography add some sparkle to your homeschool! Scroll down to see some of our favorite geography resources, as well as direct links to the decor and ingredients. There’s also a printable menu to download.