Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fun on the Interwebs: Canadian Campbell's Soup Recipes

On my last trip to Aldi, I stocked up on canned cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup (1) because they were dirt cheap and (2) on the assumption that I would need one or both in connection with Super Bowl food prep.  Imagine my surprise when nothing on the menu required either condensed soup product.  (Also, no cream cheese - how does one throw a party without a cream cheese-based appetizer item?   Somehow, we did.  But we did use sour cream and shredded cheese - massive quantities of both.)

So now my pantry runneth over with soup.  Before my weird allergy issues were diagnosed, this would not have been a problem:  I would have broken out the tetrazzini and tuna noodle casserole recipes.  But, given that pasta is now a no-no for me, I had to go back to the drawing board.  Actually, I went to Google, and a short search later I was browsing - the Canadian Campbell's site, complete with "translate into French" feature.

I love Canada and consider it to be far, far more than America's hat.  In fact, if given the opportunity, I might choose to live there, notwithstanding the "eh's" and the whole "grade thirteen" thing and the slightly grating nomenclature of all of the national agencies (in case you haven't noticed, everything is "BLANK Canada" - Health Canada, Arts Canada, Sports Canada - I don't know why this bugs me, but it does, but only a little).   Living in Seattle as a small child, I used to enjoy trips to Vancouver and Victoria Island - specifically, dolphin watching on the ferry ride over and high tea at the Empress Hotel.  Thoughtful man that he is, Parnell chose to tap into these happy memories by scheduling the last week of our honeymoon in Vancouver; the first half of the trip was spent at two other old Canadian Railway hotels, the Banff Springs and the Chateau Lake Louise.  During those two weeks, my spouse grew to share my love of Canadian geese, Remembrance Day poppies and Tim Horton's - so he is on board with the general idea of relocating to Canada at some point in the entirely hypothetical future.  (Don't know how Small Son would take to the change, but I'm guessing that mac-and-cheese-loving Big Son would take to the place like a duck - or Canadian goose - to water, given the country's obsesh with "Kraft Dinner.")

The Canadian Campbell's soup Web site reminds me of a couple of the reasons that I am fond of Canada.  Reason #1:  it is a melting pot.  Yes, I realize that the US sort of invented the concept, but in a lot of ways I think that Canada has done it better, in terms of weaving aspects of foreign cultures into the country's fabric.  This shows up in the cuisine, where Asian influences (not just Chinese and Japanese and other "Far East Asian" but also Indian) seem to be more common and accepted.  Perhaps because of the assimilation of foreign dietary preferences into the general culture, the cuisine on the whole also tends to be a bit more health-conscious (reason #2).  Long story short, I found a lot of selections on the Canadian Campbell's Web site that satisfied my dietary requirements and appealed to my eclectic palata.  In my experience, your typical American Campbell's recipes can be divided into three categories:  "Mexican," "Italian" and "other things featuring a protein plus a can of soup plus a can of vegetables, topped with cheese and fried French onions and/or crushed potato chips."  So can I tell you how delighted I was to find recipes that did not involve pasta or flour tortillas?  Nary a King Ranch casserole in the bunch.  Not that there wasn't comfort food among the offerings - chicken pot pie is, apparently, universal - but the selection was much broader in general.  A few items featured white rice, but when I read the comments, I was gratified to see that a lot of folks chose to substitute quinoa or couscous.

My kind of people.

Even the pasta dishes were, at least, creative - for example, Chicken Orzo, featuring, among other fresh items, shredded carrots and chopped basil.  Okay, so I found myself chuckling over the spelling of "Savoury Lemon Chicken" - Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore - but overall I was very impressed.  So if you find yourself (1) in a casserole rut but (2) flush with condensed soup, consider a virtual trip across the (northern) border.  Tell 'em Kathryn sent you, eh?

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