Monday, May 14, 2007



Another Reason To Be Canadian



When it comes to food, there are a number of things, about which I am aware, that Canada does much better than this country.

Smarties vs. Smarties
Chocolate bars is the first foodgroup where Canadians have it all over Americans. The availability of the Aero bar, or the Coffee Krisp, and of course the Cadbury Wunderbar, give Canadians a much larger selection than we have here in the states.

Also, when an American hears the word "Smarties," they think about small twisted packages of compressed sugar pellets.



When a Canadian hears the same word, they think candy covered chocolate (similar to an M&M, I think...but I've never had the Canadian version).



And, of course, I've mentioned this before, but they have the best peanut butter.



Kraft Extra Creamy (Velouté) Peanut Butter. Last year, my sister-out-of-law was in Canada, and for a present, she brought me back a case of this stuff. I was down to my last jar (and they're big), so I was rationing my usage. Thaddeus ended up getting me another case for my birthday, so now I've got enough to last me for a couple more months.

And finally, if all this wasn't enough, the Canadians also have poutine.

Current Knitting
Despite all my good intentions, I didn't do any sewing up or knitting on the colorblock cardigan all weekend.

Instead, I spent all my knitting time on the bulky pullover, and I am loving it more and more.



You'll note I've finished the body and the collar (I'm planning on putting a nice button in the center of the neck), and I've started on the first sleeve. This has turned out to be a very successful design so far. Here's a closeup of the collar, including the button hole.




Readers' Comments/Questions
Lawyer-friend, Carol writes, "Another annoying thing about lawyers is the way they nitpick everything one says. For example, while you said that Tom and I are 'perfectly non-boorish,' I couldn't help but note you didn't say were were 'non-obnoxious'... "

Actually Carol is definitely not obnoxious, except in the best of ways. I've never met Tom, but based on e-mails of his that I've read, I'd have to put him in the non-obnoxious category as well.

Carol also asked, "How did Nico like his cat toy?"

Not so much. He'll run after it, but he doesn't carry it around and fetch it like he will for hours with his toy mouses we get in the pet store. Thaddeus thinks it's because it's either too soft, and/or that the overwhelming smell of the shampoo I used to help felt it, makes it distasteful to the cat. I'll try making another without a perfumed shampoo.

34 comments:

Cynthia said...

Poutine is one of the greatest things in the world!

Carol said...

Hey Joe, how about using some of the salmon-flavored shampoo you used the last time we had brunch?

Or was that Kathy....?

Barb B. said...

See, that's why I read your blog, all the cultural information. I never realized you were all so deprived down there. No Smarties??? M&M's are okay, but Smarties are great. Especially when you hold them in your hand, and the colours goo all over your palm, and you have to lick it off...even better if your partner likes to clean it for you.
No Aero bars? No Coffee Crisp? What the heck do you do for "a nice light snack"?
I am really liking that sweater. Did you attach the collar as you knit it?
Barb b.

Bridget said...

Also, Tim Horton's tea with milk and donuts. Well worth the trip north.

Carol? Obnoxious? I can't imagine ...

JoVE said...

One of the weird things about being Canadian is that you don't know how different you are from Americans until one of them says something. I never knew you didn't have smarties. We have those things you picture but I call them Rockets. That might be the English term though.

I really like what you are doing with that sweater. It is even more impressive to think that you can design that on the go. (The collar is what does it, I think.)

Canadians also learn an incredible amount of not quite useful French from reading the labels on food packets. ;-)

angie Cox said...

Canadian Smarties sound like ours. I must say I think the collar on your sweater is gorgeous and wonder if you have any button in mind. You must post a picture wearing it .

Carol said...

Hmm, I think a cross-cultural junk food swap is in order. Tastykake anyone? I love Mozartkugeln but that's from Austria.

Kathy Merrick said...

Would you believe I saw Coffee Crisps for sale in several Sheetz shops in rural southwestern Virginia last week? Yay. Charlotte and I enjoyed them.

Jos, ma moufette douce, your chunky sweater is very fine looking. I agree with other that the coolar is bold and striking and very masculine.

Kathy Merrick said...

I am suspicious that you like the Canadian peanut butter for the cute chubby little bears.

Seanna Lea said...

I love your pullover. The v-ing (if I can use that as a word) really brings the piece together.

ted said...

Tim Horton's is starting to expand into the USA. Lars is thrilled, because they have Nanaimo Bars - though not by that name.

It's funny: I don't even call Cadbury products "chocolate bars". They're "candy bars". Most don't have enough chocolate in/on them to rate being called "chocolate bars".

Joe, have you done one of the catnip mice that Meg Swansen developed? Available as a kit, I think, from the Schoolhouse Press website. I made a whole slew of them years ago. In just the right room lighting, you really do expect them to go scurrying for refuge.

Ann (yet another) said...

Jove, I think rocket is arugala. Or is that only in England?

Sherry W said...

I'm slightly confused on why the peanut butter has teddy bears on the label. Are they a special ingredient?

They used to have bubbles scented with catnip at the pet store. Maybe you could used the bubble soap felting?

Mel said...

I believe, though, that our version of Smarties at least used to say "Made in Canada". The Landladies brought us back the Canadian version from the Bahamas, of all places. The candy coating actually has a little fruity flavoring (or is that flavouring?) that sets them apart from M&M's.

geeksbewithyou said...

Have you tried ketchup chips yet?

http://www.taquitos.net/snacks.php?snack_code=369

Very tasty to Canadians. Very frightening to Americans. I'll send you a small bag if you're game.

Knitting Ninja said...

I agree with Carol, a mulitnational candy swap is in order, but maybe save it for winter months. Nobody want to get melted messed up candy in the mail. I have the most awesome chocolate from my trip to Estonia last month. It is heaven in your mouth!! Loraine

angie Cox said...

I think your "Smarties" would be "Fizzers" here . Anyone out there like "Flying Saucers" ..that 's rice-paper filled with sherbet. I blame America for the tooth decay .Didn't you artificially lower the price of sugar to hit the Cuban economy ? I must have been the generation who had a packet of fruit-gums in my sticky hands each and every day . I loved all those glass jars filled with sweets in bright colours. The best "candy" ever is what Mum-in-law brings back from Barbados and that's Coconut -Ice .

Kathy Merrick said...

What about wine gums? And turkish delight?
You never see them here in Philadelphia. I bring them back whenever I go to England.

Barb B. said...

Kathy, you can get them both here, I've bought them all over the place. Can't remember if it's Laura Secord or Purdy's that has the best Turkish Delight.
And now for the world famous Smartie song
"When you eat your Smarties,
Do you eat the red ones last?
Do you suck them very slowly,
Or crunch them very fast?
Eat that candy-coated chocolate,
But tell me when I ask,
When you eat your Smarties,
Do you eat the red ones last?"

Barb B.

TJ said...

I'm very lucky to have a Canadian sister-in-law who has introduced our family not only to the wonders of Cadbury and poutine, but also butter tarts, maple spread, vinegar for french fries [I swear the Canadian white vinegar tastes totally different, and boxed mac 'n cheese that is far superior to that in the U.S.

Of course, Kids in the Hall was already the best reason to be Canadian.

Fredda said...

First, I'm really loving that sweater. The collar was a total surprise!

Now, about food...while I really don't like (read "am grossed out" by) poutine, Canada has introduced me to Cappuccino Trident gum and, next to the ketchup potato chips, "Hosties". They are not at all related to our Hostess cupcakes, but rather they are host wafers. Obviously not consecrated, but available in supermarkets and some chain pharmacies.

Kathy Merrick said...

Why would anyone want to consume communion wafers outside of communion?
They're not exactly tasty, don't have an interesting texture and gee, that sounds creepy.

What am I missing?

Asaknitter said...

I love the collar on the sweater.

YarnTalk said...

I'm so glad Barb posted the Smarties song! I've been singing it to my American colleagues for years...and I know they think I'm making it up! (I'm at YarnMarket in Ohio.) These days I'm finding the occasional Crispy Crunch and Coffee Crisp bar at the local Anderson's store. They're also carrying Dare cookies! I'm still shopping for Bisto, HP Sauce, Garden Cocktail, butter tarts and Salada Tea in Canada and bringing them home with me. I think Americans have trouble with the name "Nanaimo" because my neighbor, who loves them, constantly refers to them as "Nanoo Nanoo Bars."

Veronik said...

We used to have teddy bear shaped peanut butter jars, too - I wish I had saved some.

Kathy, I had also wondered about the communion wafers but Mona tells me they're also sold in Germany and used in macaroon recipes.

Mona strickt said...

To make it perfectly clear: the wafers are used as a base for macaroons. You put the eggwhite mix in dollops on them and bake it. I guess it was/is to prevent the macaroons from sticking together when you keep them stacked in a tin.

For me, the smarties situation is the other way around. I grew up with smarties, and then M&M's came across the big pond when I was in my teens. The candy "that melts in your mouth, not in your hand". This is to refer to the one comment describing having the colours of smarties melt on your hand. It was the big thing in advertisement that M&M's don't do that.

Fredda said...

Kathy,

I too wondered about them. I'm Jewish and it still made me nervous to touch the bag! According to a manager at one of the Jean Coutou's, "...some people like the taste and enjoy spicing them up with their own flavorings and recipes." Any clearer???

I recently brought a bag home for a friend. He then brought it to his priest, whose only comment was "How much were they? I wonder if they're cheaper than our source."

Hmmm...

Carol said...

I grew up in a family that celebrated Wigelia (I probably spelled it wrong) and we used to have a Christmas Eve dinner that involved everyone getting a wafer and you take a piece of everyone else's and pass them around. They taste like cardboard.

Plus reenacting cannibalism doesn't put me in the right mood for Santy Claus.

Shit, am I free-associating again?

Kathy Merrick said...

My family celebrates Wigilia as well. At sunset, after the youngest child sees the first star, each person gets a sheet of Oplatek (that should have a "dark" L, which makes it sound like a W)and goes around to each other person, giving them a kiss (well in my family anyway. we kiss alot) and wishes for a happy year.
You break off a piece of Oplatek from each person sheet and eat it.
It comes from the Christmas Wafer Baking Company.

But it's not food--it's symbol.
And just about everyone tries to get the smallest piece possible--because it tastes foul and papery.

I DO understand the wafer as support for sweets idea.
But they're not meant to be host stand-ins.

Veronik said...

A bit of trivia: 'ostie' (quebecois for the confessional wafer) also serves as a swear word here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_French_profanity
Yep. We're funny that way.

Kathy said...

Don't forget recognition of gay marriage---that's what has my best friend in the whole world leaving to be a Canadian resident in Vancouver...not that its much of a sacrifice for HIM but I'm chafing a bit about it...

Kathy Merrick said...

Veronik, I listen to alot of trad Quebec music--my flags are at half-mast due to Benoit Bourque's leaving Le Vent Du Nord.
They do a great scary song about a bad man who tries to cheat death that is full of that sacre imagery.
It's funny and threatening a la fois.

Carol said...

Kath, is Benoit embarking upon a solo career? Or is he going to cut a duet with Celine Dion, chanteuse canadienne? ("I know that my hurdy-gurdy will go on...")

And when your family kisses at the Wigilia, do they use tongue?

knitty_kat said...

dear gawd there's a lot of comments on here! I came to mention that Rockets is/are the Canadian name for your "Smarties" but it was already covered, sort of.

I did want to mention that most of the chocolate Cadbury bars originated from England / the UK and because we were once a British colony we seem to have adopted them and now manufacture them.

I would suggest for any Americans wanting to find a more local source try a British or English store if you have that sort of thing there?! A portion of my family is from the UK and we frequent British shops for chocolates among other sweets and goodies.