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Great Canadian Cuisine: The Contemporary Flavours of Canadian Pacific Hotels

by Anita Stewart

It’s no longer enough for a cookbook to be chock-full of inspiring recipes and helpful kitchen hints. In the age of Martha Stewart, complicated concoctions that few have the time to make are lushly presented in gooey, close-up photos. Cookbooks are meant to be flipped through and salivated over. They are, in essence, food porn.

By contrast, Anita Stewart’s new offering is a delightful throwback. Great Canadian Cuisine manages to be both a practical guide and a visual delight. Boasting that Canadian Pacific (CP)is the only North American hotel chain to formally endorse its national cuisine, she divides the book into chapters based on region: Atlantic, Quebec, Central, Prairies and Rockies, and British Columbia. Each section opens with a brief rundown of CP’s hotel history in the region, followed by a collection of recipes for starters, mains, and desserts.

The hotels played their own role in Canada’s history: for example, the Banff Springs Hotel lured thousands of tourists to a sparsely populated region, thus helping to pay off the massive debt that building the railroad incurred. Today, CP hotels are supporters of small farms, buying much of their produce from local suppliers.

The recipes are clear and easy to follow, and are presented in both imperial and metric formats. Fresh ingredients are emphasized in recipes such as Molasses-Marinated Fundy Salmon, Braised Alberta Lamb Shanks with Vegetables, New Potatoes and Buttermilk Rosemary Biscuits, and Warm Autumn Salad with St. Basile Cheese and Sautéed Cortland Apples. But herein lies the rub: many of the special ingredients specified are produced on small farms and are not available nationally, so substitutions are de rigueur. The health-conscious should be warned that there is no nutritional analysis of any of the recipes.

On second thought, it is a delightful throwback indeed.