Sunday, April 21, 2019

Food and Religion

As I write this post it is Easter Sunday and Passover is just after the 2 first nights of Seders..  For me it's a quiet day as I do not have any family plans or any other commitments today.  I have been thinking about this post for a long time and wanted to reflect on a few thoughts about food and religion and the traditions that are carried over for generations.

As I write this it is also the weekend of Suicide bombers in Sri Lanka who in a co-ordinated attack killed over 200 people and injured over 350 people at Churches and Hotels at what is the most sacred and busiest time of year.  Why?  Well because of Religion unfortunately.  I am not a religious person because I believe that religions mostly divide people in to groups that separate based on differences in religion.   But let's talk about the food connection.

Usually Food is the common thread that brings people together except for the time of religious holidays.  This year Passover and Easter fell at the time time on the calendar so many people are observing their holiday traditions which include feasts.  But that's the similarity of the two events,  there are other similarities which I will mention but because of religion the Jews follow the practices of 2 nights of Seders where they do not cook with wheat and there are other food rules that Orthodox Jews follow very strictly.  Whereas on Good Friday, Christians eat Fish and I would say the ones that don't cook will have Fish and Chips at a local restaurant.  The fish is battered with flour.  Jews are still eating fish at their Seders but it is Gefilte fish which is white fish that is made into a loaf and can be either sweet or savoury.  I prefer the sweet one.

The other similar food is the humble egg.  Jews use eggs as part of the Seder as a cleansing prayer.  Christians decorate eggs with dye's and somehow the eggs have evolved into a commercial venture turning into chocolate easter egg hunts.  I am not sure what Chocolate Easter eggs have to do with religious beliefs but I suppose it's the same thing with what Halloween has turned in to.

Let's talk potatoes.  This is the food everyone agrees on.  Whether it's fries or roasted potatoes it's pretty safe for any religion.  I guess that's why French Fries are eaten more than any other vegetable.

And the meat.  It is common to have Beef Brisket at a Seder dinner and sometimes Kosher chicken too.  For Christians they have Ham and probably Turkey.

I made chopped liver with caramelized onions to spread on my matzohs but I don't think there is an equivalent for Easter dinners.

I also made Charoset which is a mixture of nuts, dates, honey and apples that is used on the Seder plate.  I like to have it for breakfast on matzoh.  The seder plate has Charoset,  Bitter herbs (horseradish), lamb shank,  parsley,  an egg and lettuce.  They all have symbolic meanings and the bitter herb is supposed to address our ego's and perseverance over difficulties.

Desserts,  here is where the common thread is Chocolate.  Everyone can eat chocolate unless they are diabetic.  The only thing is that during Passover you can't use flour to make baked goods.  The new trend is to make a chocolate bark using Matzohs and it's called Matzoh crack.  It's not a thing with my family but younger people love it.

This year I made a religious free Flourless Chocolate Cake.  It's a pretty simple recipe that is almost like making a chocolate mousse but it's a cake.  You eliminate the flour by using eggs.  Anyone can eat this cake and it's delicious.  I also made Coconut Macaroons which are another thing that anyone can eat but not so popular with as many people.  My cake was a big hit at my families table so I am sure I will be making it again.

The Bread,  hot cross buns are a sign of the cross and Matzoh's are significant because the Israelites had to leave in a hurry and didn't have time for the bread to rise.  They are both bread but at this time of year you eat one or the other.   Last year I made Hot Cross Buns just to see what they were like to make them.  They were delicious and I wish that we could eat them whenever we want to.

What has me really puzzled is why we follow all of these religious food rules decades after our ancestors who followed these rules because of their circumstances and religious beliefs.

We now live in a modern society where we can get any kind of food from anywhere but we still follow these food rules.  My cousin told me that there was a certain Matzoh that cost $40 a box.  Why does it cost so much and why do people buy it?

Personally my thoughts are the steadfast religious beliefs that separate religious families into separate groups is not good for the World we live in at this time.  We are a global generation and people can spread hate throughout the world with one tweet and it could start with a family going to a Church and planning to have a large feast afterward.

What can we do to stop the hate between religions?  Will it take the abandonment of the strict traditions and practices for things to change?  When we see others as different we do not see the similarities as in the food I have mentioned.   We are different but ultimately we all want the same things,  we want health, happiness, love, respect and basic necessities of life. 

Maybe it's time to welcome everyone to the table and see how similar we all are and when people see other's as family and not the enemy maybe the suicide bombers will change their beliefs and follow a different path to heaven.

*Most of the recipes can be found on my previous blog posts about Passover and Easter.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Green Living Show 2019

March 22-24
Metro Convention Centre Toronto

I have been going to the Green Living Show for a few years now and I am always on the look out for new and smart products that will sustain us in the future.

This show really is the one show that is for everyone.  It covers products for moms, kids, families, people with busy lives and busy business people.

The show is very interactive and not only is it about purchasing sustainable products it's about learning about ways you can make choices in your every day life that will have a global impact.

This year there was a large presence of Sustainable clothing made from everything from rubber to water bottles and accessories from leaves even.


 There was the Eco Car of the year once again in an eye catching bright green color.

There is an age restricted Canabis section where I got a free 10 minute chair massage event.  There were lots of canabis related products including books.

The thing I am always striving for is to reduce my waste and save money so I was happy to see a store based in Scarborough with a booth at the show that you could purchase recycled jars that you could fill up with things like shampoo and dish soap and they had a bunch of other really cool products that I plan on going back to pick up today.

There are interactive booths like the Electric Car simulator to tai chi and kids play areas.

Green Peace was on hand with this thought provoking display and it's clear that a lot of booths were concerned about plastic in our Oceans.

Don't forget about the food.  That's what I was there for after all.

Besides the Local Sustainable foods that are flavours from around the world and also the attached beverage area there are also lots of products to sample and purchase.

Some things I liked included the Keto coffee and there is great vegan cheese and the La Dee Da ladies created snack products in compostable packages and great sauces.
There are loads of products in Mason Jars which I love because it goes back to the time before plastic products took over the world and our oceans.

This product got my attention because I don't think I have seen it before and because I am an Ox the label got me curious.  I tried the Strawberry Mint flavour.  It would be a fast way to make a great salad dressing for a spinach salad even though this stuff is made for cocktails it's also great for other things.

So that's my quick overview of the show.   I got a bunch of stuff like cleaning products, snacks and a bunch of other things in a swag back but I picked up these 3 things and I plan on going back today for a couple of other things like some bamboo sheets I can't stop thinking about.

Why I picked up these three things.   The Cupanion water bottle is about the size of a regular water bottle with a wide lid easy to clean and everytime you fill it up and scan a card water is provided to someone somewhere else in the world.  That's smart.   The Keto Coffee is a delicious way to get an easy and healthy coffee wherever you can boil water.  I also liked this pumpkin spread that I picked up at the Organic Garage booth, always my favourite place to stop by and get samples.  I am thinking it will make a great chicken dish or spread for bagels.

Well that's it for me... I am planning on gong back for a couple of hours today to pick up a few more things.  Hope to see you there...and look out for these things in stores soon.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Restaurant Canada Show 2019

Restaurant Canada Show 2019
Enercare Centre
Feb 24-26, 2019

I am always on the hunt for new, interesting, fun and time saving things so I always like to visit the Restaurant Canada Show to see into the future of the Restaurant world.  Besides seeing innovative restaurant equipment there is also things you don't even think about if you don't run a restaurant.  This show is really a one stop shop for the Restaurant Industry where you can get everything from a Pizza Oven, food packaging, technology that will make your business run more efficiently and of course food of every kind.  Meat, Gelato and Pizza seemed to dominate this years show.  Low fat,  not so much.  Full Flavour is in this year in whatever form you are looking for.

This blog post has a lot of photos and this show runs for 3 days but I walked the whole show and tried to cover as much as I could.  I don't get into the restaurant equipment as much since my blog is more food based but I am going to try and give you a bit of an overview of things that stood out to me.

One of the things I love after going to the show a couple of times is hanging out with my food blogger friends and running into other fellow food bloggers.  We are write about food but we all have a different view of what we are checking out at the show.  My friend Shuang was obsessed with the Latte art and my friend Jenny loves to chat with the Chefs while I am looking at overall trends, new things and of course I love to find out whats new with restaurant industry friends.

This year at the show I ran into Matt Dean Pettit who owns Matty's Seafood and who was at the show for a new partnership to produce plates for restaurants.  I really liked this blue plate.  They all have a slightly different look because of the glazing process they use

There are also lots of chef Demos and one of the demos was how to style a Charcuterie Board by another friend of mine Food Stylist Irene Matys from the Spicy Olive.  Irene's demo was very popular.

Sustainable Seafood expert Chef Ned Bell was doing a little catch up with Matt while I was trying his Seaweed infused brownies.  They were really good and think of it like salted caramel.  Just a hint of the salt from the seaweed but all chocolate.

The first thing I had at the show was Ice cream at 10am.  You need to have a strong stomach because there are every kind of samples to try.  Gelato is one of my favourite things and there was a lot of it there.

I like to pick up cool entertaining ideas because I never know when I need to pull something out of my hat for a work event.
Simple things like Egg Pops from the Egg Farmers of Ontario to Decorated Madeleine's from Petite Breton.
After my breakfast Ice Cream I then had a cocktail made with Sipsmith Gin because of course that's how you start a Sunday Morning isn't it?  There are cocktail competitions and loads of sampling and that's where we started because that area becomes the busiest at the show later in the day and also because the samples to carry are on the other end.  I tried to be more strategic to cover as much as I could this year.

The show has some fun stuff too like selfie activations and ways to make your business attract the Insta crowd.  Of course we had to do it.

I was also looking for interesting food and new products.  I liked the box of Tic Tac Toe cookies that are geared to kids in school to be interactive.  So much fun.  These are from a new vendor from Quebec and they are looking to get into the schools. It's not available in Ontario as yet.

I have become an oyster fan over the past few years and there were all kinds of Oysters to sample from the east coast to the west coast

One of the products I picked up that I am looking forward to using is the sample I got of Garlic scape pesto.  I am thinking a pasta dish maybe.
Some of the Innovative and new trends in how to set up your food business is the newly popular container restaurants and cool portable units like this ice cream cart. Stylish and practical. 

 Are you afraid of AI or do you want robots to take over monotonous tasks or from a restaurant perspective not have to worry if your employees are sick and don't show up to work.  Well check out this AI robot that will take your order.  More of this is on the way for sure as rents increase and so do payroll costs.
A couple of the yummy things I ate were the pairing of some cheese from Quebec with candied ginger.  You think it's weird but think of Brie and Cranberry.  It really works.  Try that on your next cheese board.  I also had some Welsh Rarebit that was demo'd at a Garland equipment station. Who doesn't love more cheese on toast?

These 3 products caught my eye as well.  Pancetta spread, Marshmallow whip cream and these cookie dough products.

 There was lot's of various teas and of course lot's of coffee but I didn't focus on it as much this year because I covered it more last time but look at these varieties and colors.  You can plan your menu and add a tea colored to match.  Fancy.

How about Sushi desserts?  Fun colored chocolate shavings and shapes? Heart shaped Macarons and all kinds of Nougat.  This would make your party food a lot more fun.

The Canola Girls were having a bit of fun at their booth.  How many of you use Canola Oil everyday? Ever wonder where it comes from?

 This guy was really old school making classic Roast Beef Sandwiches.   Beef is Back I think with all the Keto Diets around now.

Don't forget about your promotional items.  Aren't thse squishy things fun?

So that's my Restaurant roundup for this year.  I hope to be back again next year to eat, take photos and see new things and meet new people.

This is a Food Industry Trade Show so if you are in the Restaurant Business I would say this is a must for you to do to network and find new ways of doing things.

The Restaurant Industry is not for the faint of heart so let's all work together to make it work.