I know it’s often said that Canada is a mere appendage of the U.S., the 51st state, the spleen of the continent that no one really knows exists and seems to have no necessary function, blah blah blah. Maybe it’s true; maybe we are like the unassuming cousin from out of town who never speaks at the holiday table, or the scrawny kid at the beach the girls never notice. And, like many underdogs, we in Canada seem to know more about our more powerful, more popular, more infamous neighbor than they know about us (I will never forget the time, as a teen, that I visited cousins in New Jersey–about 560 miles/900 km. from where I lived at the time. A friend of my cousin’s, learning that I was Canadian, blurted out, “Oh! I know a Canadian! Do you know Steven Ruttenberg?” To which, astonishingly, I was obliged to reply, “Um, why yes, yes, I do know Steven Ruttenberg. . .”–for as it turned out, he went to my high school! And so now, for ever more, that poor girl will believe that Canada really is, after all, a pinhead of a backwater, underdeveloped country where everyone knows each other!).
How about a little quiz? Okay, Americans out there! Quick, answer these: Who’s the Canadian Prime Minister? How many provinces in Canada? What’s our official language?* What does our flag look like? Pick any Canadian on any streetcorner in pretty much any Canadian city, and s/he will know the answers to all those questions as they relate to the U.S. Why? Because, first of all, we sort of have to (see above); but also, because those rumors are, to a great extent, true: we are influenced by the US, we do follow their culture more than they follow ours, and we really do depend on that comforting, protective, bear-paw of an embrace from our bigger, more powerful cousins to the south.
I know this notion (that we are unduly influenced by and, to some extent even dominated by, the U.S.) bothers some of my compatriots. For my part, I have to admit, I’ve always felt a great affection and affinity toward the States. First, several of my relatives live in America, from California to New York and New Jersey to Massachusetts, and they are some of my favorite people in the world. I spent many idyllic childhood summers with my Boston cousins. Second, having completed both an MA and a PhD in Modern American Literature, I’ve probably read more American than Canadian fiction and consider many of the US authors as role models (and, for those of you who notice such things, that’s also the reason why I, a proud Canadian, use predominantly “American” spelling on this blog–writing about American authors for American professors for many years, that spelling now feels natural to me). Third, just as the “they’re so polite” clichés about Canadians happen to be (for the most part) true, so are the “they’re so friendly and hospitable” or “they’re incredibly generous” clichés about Americans. (And, as the HH is always quick to point out, customer service in the US runs circles–CIRCLES–around its Canadian counterpart (and counter person).
And so, it made perfect sense that yesterday, on American Thanksgiving, I, too, was extremely grateful along with y’all–and, in particular, grateful for the existing U.S.-Canada connections.
Why, you ask? Well, I arrived home to discover that I’d received a skillfully wrapped and well-taped brown paper package in the mail (ooh, that sounds rather salacious somehow, doesn’t it?), boasting American postage and filled with amazing vegan goodies!
I’d signed up to be part of Lindsay (from Cooking for a Vegan Lover)’s blogging Care Package Swap event and there was my box of treats! I discovered Lindsay’s blog when she commented on mine a while back, and am so glad she did! I’ve been enjoying the posts from Lindsay and her hubby Neil, who live and write in Vermont. They include recipes, restaurant reviews, and other foodie tidbits like CSA news and animal-friendly events. I can’t tell you how excited I was to rip off the brown paper and tape to reveal the following:
Look at that haul! Neil (my exchange partner) sent an incredible array of fantastic and organic treats–and–how thoughtful is this???–everything is wheat-free! The products are also made in Vermont or environs. I literally jumped up and down when I saw the Liz Lovely cookies–I’d read so much over the years about Liz Lovely, and finally got to sample my very own (GF) Chocolate Fudge cookie (which I did the second I opened the box, of course). The package also included the following delectables (left to right):
- Road’s End organic Savory Herb Gravy Mix;
- a Cashew Vanilla WaGuRu Chew (smothered in Vanilla Caramel–doesn’t that just sound irresistible??);
- (slightly hidden behind the shampoo bottle) Zootons Organic Gummies candy in a variety of fruity flavors;
- All Natural Elmore Mountain Farm Lavender shampoo (smells heavenly);
- the amazing Liz Lovely cookies, with, in the foreground–
- a Dan’s Chocolates “The Caffeinator” truffle;
- a bar of Montpelier Chocolate Factory’s Dark Strawberry and Coconut chocolate (strawberry! Cannot wait to try that one!), and behind it–
- a bottle of Vermont Pepper Works Chocolate Chipotle Pepper Sauce (rated XX Hot–will be diving into that asap!);
- a box of Road’s End Organics Mac and Chreese–with rice pasta!;
- a piece of Pure Vermont Maple Candy from Brookfield Sugarmakers (which, despite being raised in Quebec, I have never tried–so looking forward to this, too!); and–somehow left out of the photo (perhaps because they were already gobbled up??)–
- two–one for each of The Girls–packs of organic, handmade dog biscuits!
THANKS SO MUCH, Neil! I can’t wait to try out all the goodies, all the while gratefully basking in the glow of my American neighbour’s generosity and hospitality. 🙂 What fun it was to participate in this swap!
“And Neil, Chaser and I thank you, too! It was especially nice to have such delicious dog biscuits while I’m convalescing. . . if you were here, I’d thank you properly, of course, but for now you’ll just have to accept a virtual lick to the ear.”
* Perhaps that was a trick question. There are, in reality, two official languages (muffle, muffle, guffaw, cackle): English and French.