What Does Home Taste Like?

The exterior of the American Market in Geneva

8 things you can find at the American store in Geneva

Living as an expat in Geneva, I often get asked to describe a typically Canadian meal. Sometimes people just want to know what foods I miss from home, if there’s something I can’t find here, or if Canada has a national dish.  These are all good questions.  Is there a national Canadian dish?  

The Swedes have meatballs, the Koreans kimchi and the people of Peru have Ceviche.  Is it poutine in Canada?  Is that what makes my taste buds watery with memory. The all night diners, with the florescent lights and greasy tables, where french fries, gravy and cheese curds were the only thing that would save us from the morning.  Maybe.

Many countries have iconic dishes  for which nation and cuisine are tied together, inseparable for all time.  Some argue that there are certain flavours we associate with specific parts of the world for their prominence in national cuisines.  What does Canada taste like then? Maple syrup?  The food I miss most from home is the curry chicken at The Real Jerk , a Jamaican restaurant in Toronto.  Those weekday lunches with friends, where we were such regulars that ordering was unnecessary.  Or rainy winter nights in Vancouver, where we were warmed by the open fire cooking yakitori at Zakkushi on Denman Street.  These are tastes from home.

We live in a globalised world where it’s easy to get what you want when you want it.  There are sushi shops and hamburger joints on every other corner of the city.  I can buy maple syrup and even strangely enough Canada food flavouring at my local grocery store. There are, however, a few things that are harder to find, like Franks Red Hot Sauce or brown sugar made from molasses.  For these things we go to the American Market on rue Neuchatel,13.

8 Things You Find at the American Store in Geneva

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food has always travelled and national dishes evolved from the melange.  Fusion is not new.  At Christmas in Switzerland, the traditional dish for many is a Fondue Chinoise, which while not exactly like a Chinese Hot Pot, is certainly inspired by one.  A light broth is served in a fondue pot with thinly sliced meats and many many dipping sauces. It may be called Fondue Chinoise but it is something quintessentially Swiss.

I can’t name that one dish that should taste like home and that’s ok.  That said if anyone from Canada would like to send me packages of Canadian Swiss Chalet dipping sauce, I’d be grateful, and I’d send you back this Swiss Canada flavouring.  Just don’t asks me what it tastes like.

A jar of spice in a supermarket in Geneva, Switzerland that is Canada flavoured.
Canada flavour from the local COOP supermarket in Geneva.

Some of the many sauces for fondue chinoise available at the Coop supermarket in Geneva.
A wide variety of sauces for fondue chinoise are available at local supermarkets.

%d bloggers like this: