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What’s Eaten Where: Alberta

whats eaten1

There’s a town in Alberta called Vulcan. And its residents (eccentric to a fault) have built a 31-foot replica of a Star Trek starship right next to the visitors’ centre. The whole enterprise isn’t just an effort to bring in the tourists – which it does, in their droves. It’s also a symbol of the quirkiness of the town.

Named for Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, the province has a long history. Paleo-Indians arrived in Alberta 10,000 years ago, toward the end of the last ice age, migrating across the Bering Strait land bridge and down into Canada and America. These peoples lived by hunting buffalo, or hunting, trapping, and fishing. And for thousands of years, little changed; even today, the province recognises bison, beef, honey, root vegetables and Saskatoon berries among its signature foods.

bison porterhouse steak, northstar bison
Bison Porterhouse Steak, Northstar Bison

For those cold winter nights, bison – a lean meat with a high iron count that benefits from low, slow cooking – is still a staple: roasted, in stews, or turned into pemmican. So too is rosemary grilled beef – the province’s vast prairies are famed for their wheat, corn, and especially their cattle; succulent ginger beef is said to have originated in Calgary.

Albertan honey is another favourite. As the fifth-largest honey-producing region in the world, the province is renowned for its golden nectar, which varies in flavour according to the local flora. And while the nation’s renowned maple syrup is less in evidence here, a number of producers mix maple sap with their honey to create a singular honey maple syrup.

In terms of veggies, there are plenty of carrots, parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes, and turnips on the menu. Often made into stews and soups, Albertan roots are said to taste sweeter due to the cold, which causes sugars to concentrate. And berries (especially the plump, tart Saskatoon variety, which were originally used in teas or dried for winter eating) are ever popular in pies and crumbles across the province; a delightful addition to a uniquely healthy diet that certainly ensures residents live long and prosper!

 

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