Only in the Maritimes

Recently, Covered Bridge Potato Chips released a flavour, or rather a combination of flavours, called Storm Chips, capitalizing on the now ubiquitous Maritime term to describe storm-related snacks.  If you haven’t heard the story of how Storm Chips came to be a Maritime phenomenon then carry on, dear reader.  Last winter, Stephanie Domet, a Halifax CBC reporter spoke on air about her penchant for chips and dip every time it stormed (which, as you remember, was often last January).  When she went to the store to get her snacks, she snapped a photo of them with the hashtag #stormchips and the phenomenon was born.  Now, you can actually buy a flavour of chips bearing that very name.  I can already hear the crinkle of chip bags opening all over the Maritimes this winter as thousands of Maritimers cuddle up under a blanket on the couch as a storm rages outside.  Just, hopefully, not too many times.  For our physical health as well as our sanity.

Storm Chips
Photo, coveredbridgechips.com

The reappearance of Storm Chips got me thinking: what else can be considered uniquely Maritimes?

There are a few things that the Maritimes share with neighbouring regions, such as wild blueberries and maple syrup.  There’s also lobster and other seafood of course, lobster rolls being a favourite served in restaurants across the region.

Now, that’s a lobster roll!

Dulse (dried seaweed) is another treat (term used liberally!) from the sea commonly found in the Maritimes.  That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone and while lots of Maritimers love dulse, lots hate it, too.

dulse
Photo, public domain

Donair is another well-known Maritime food specialty.  The donair reportedly began in Halifax in the 1970’s, but who can claim credit for creating it and being the first to serve it is up for debate.  For those who don’t know, donair consists of sliced, seasoned meat served on bread with tomato, onion and sweet donair sauce.

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Photo, MrDonair.ca

As for non-food related Maritime specialties, it might very well be the only place in the world that you can find inner-city, dual lighthouses at sunset, like these found in Uptown, Saint John:

Dual lighthouses at sunset, only in the Maritimes

Lighthouses in general, while certainly not unique to the Maritimes, are so synonymous with the region that the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouse in the world.

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A foggy day at Peggy’s Cove

You can also find brutal winters here, that range from +15 one day and -25 the next.  And don’t even get us started on the snow…we’re still traumatized from last winter, which saw record snowfalls in several Maritime cities.

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We find ways to deal with the snow

Despite all the unique things the Maritimes offer that we love, there is not one single thing that can define us.  It’s all part of a way of life that is shaped by our environment and our histories.  It’s woven into our DNA, from the first breath of salty sea air that fills our lungs.  We are a part of it, as it is a part of us.

Is there anything I missed that is uniquely Maritimes?

 

 

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Making Sense of Insensible Acts

I think we’re all still reeling from the horrific events that took place in Paris last night.  I know that I am.  Images and sounds that we can’t get out of our heads.  Innocent people enjoying their Friday evening, only to discover the worst of humanity.

Much like the stages of grief, I believe there is a natural process that we go through as we watch traumatic events like this unfold (which are becoming far too frequent):

 1.  The first stage is disbelief – what did that last tweet just say?  Bombings in the heart of Paris?  This can’t possibly be true!  We scour the internet for any morsel of information that we can glean, in an attempt to disprove our worst fears.

2.  When it’s been confirmed that this is indeed happening, there is an immediate coming together in solidarity.  Social media feeds were filled with messages of love and support for the people of Paris, even as events were still unfolding.  And with our advanced level of connectivity, we are easily able to follow events in real time, which is both a blessing a curse.  It provides us with the most up-to-the-minute information but can also lead to a lot of misinformation and increased anxiety on the part of people who can’t seem to disconnect themselves from the story.

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The World lights up for Paris

3.  We get really angry – there are a lot of emotions involved in seeing your fellow world citizens being gunned down in public and fleeing for their lives.  The most intense of these can be anger.  And that anger wants to be directed somewhere, which leads into the next stage…

4.  We look for someone to blame – this is completely natural.  In order to make sense of something that really makes no sense at all, we need to find someone or something to blame.  Somewhere to place our anger and disgust, our sorrow and grief.  The problem is when we start to place blame where it doesn’t belong.  When we condemn a group of people based on the acts of a very few.  Don’t get me wrong, the people who commit these acts are heinous people and worthy of appropriate punishment but let us place the blame where it properly belongs.  We don’t want to look back on this time in history and feel shame at how we conducted ourselves.  Let’s be on the right side of this history that’s unfolding.

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This was trending the morning after the attacks

5.  We get depressed and feel the world is going to crap – this also is natural.  Some very bad things are indeed happening in the world, and not just in Paris.  It can be overwhelming when we try to take it all in.  But we must resist the urge to give up on the world.  We must look for those helpers that Mister Rogers told us to look for, because in them, we will find our salvation.  When you realize how many more people were willing to open their doors to strangers, rush headlong into danger and work around the clock to assist the injured than the few who perpetrated this evil, you realize that darkness can never win.  Because evil is desperately outnumbered.  And this is how we must fight terrorism, with undying light and hope.  And what better place to lead the charge than the City of Light?

look for the helpers

We Remember

Today, we remember.  We remember sacrifices made and lives lost.  We celebrate courage and bravery.  We practice gratitude for our remarkably free lives.

We also remember those innocent lives lost – the victims of war.  Those legions of men, women and children not in uniform.  We remember those who toiled in support of the war effort, and those who waited at home for loved ones with trembling hands and hearts.

We remember those who fought on the front lines and those who fought in the shadows.

And those who fight still.

The poppy is our symbol of remembrance – our tremulous link to a shocking past. Pinned on our breast, we wear it with pride and with trepidation.  We gather once a year to honour all those brave souls who risked it all, but also to prevent a history that repeats itself.  As if by gathering at a cenotaph each year, we can ward off the demons of war, by standing together as one, a united front of peaceful intentions.

So, for me, Remembrance Day is not only a remembering of all those that fought, but a remembering of all that we wish to gain.  And that red poppy we so proudly wear? It’s a symbol of hope as much as loss: of what we could be, of what is possible, of what is necessary.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scare heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae

A brief history of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance: Inspired by the red poppies that stubbornly grew over the war torn fields of Flanders, Belguim, Canadian field surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel John Alexander McCrae wrote his famous poem 100 years ago.  In 1918 an American woman, Moina Belle Michael, read the poem and was so moved by it’s message of keeping the faith that she came up with the idea of wearing a red poppy as a way of remembering all those who died.  But it was a French woman by the name of Madame Anna E. Guerin who took the symbol of the poppy worldwide.  Today, millions of poppies are worn in Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and in 120 other countries worldwide.

I love this response to In Flanders Fields that I found while doing research, written by Moina Belle Michael:

We shall keep the faith  

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.


We cherish, too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led;

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders Fields.


And now the Torch and Poppy Red

We wear in honor of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields we fought.

Fall Chop Chop Week in Saint John

A foodie’s dream – it’s Chop Chop Week in Uptown, Saint John!  All this week, our fabulous chefs offer up special plates, 2-course lunches and 3-course dinners for a special price.  And the best part is that $1 from every dish sold goes to Lunch Connection, providing hot lunches for kids.  It’s a win-win.  You get to eat great food and the kids get a hot lunch.  And remember that thing I wrote about helping support your city, Saint John?  This is one really simple way to do just that.  You get to show appreciation for our fabulous chefs who take such great care to make wonderful, beautiful food for us, support local businesses and thus the local economy and you get to help feed kids in the area.  So really it’s a win-win-win.

We’re well into Chop Chop week, with only a few more days left to partake.  And by all accounts, it’s been a roaring success.  Joel went to En on Tuesday with some coworkers and told me the place was bumping.  Last night we went to dinner at East Coast Bistro and the place was packed.  We had a fantastic meal and despite how busy it was, the service was great and we didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes for any course. Their kitchen is obviously a well oiled machine.

Since I can’t eat wheat, my choices are somewhat limited but I would still like to make it out for one more Chop Chop meal this weekend and I have found that our Saint John chefs are incredibly accommodating with food allergies and intolerances.  I thank you for that, it means a lot to this gluten free foodie!

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Chop Chop main course, En
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Chop Chop dinner at ECB!
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Black & white salad for me, sweet potato soup for Joel
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Pesto haddock gratin for my main, apple-cranberry-rye stuffed pork tenderloin for Joel
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Butter ice cream with sponge toffee crunch for me, Maritime gingerbread for Joel – so yummy!

So if you haven’t been out for a Chop Chop meal yet, what are you waiting for?!  Get on the horn and make a reservation for this weekend!  Yes, all our restaurants will still be here next week but these special menus and the chance to help local schoolkids won’t be.  Happy eating, SJ!