Recipe Notes (Alexia Moyer)
Iceberg lettuce. Do you feel as though it has been forgotten of late . . . left to languish in the shade of assertive arugula and masterful mâche? When next you see its pert ruffles and verdant complexion, take it home and offer it something red to wear: CPR Salad Dressing.
This is the Canadian Pacific Railway’s (once) secret recipe, courtesy of Nicole Parton who offers us – apart from the opportunity to use ketchup for something other than an accompaniment to scrambled eggs – a reminder of the CPR’s role in marketing, standardizing and disseminating Canadian foodways. As Pierre Berton writes in The Centennial Food Guide, “It is perhaps not too much to say that, if there is a distinctive style of Canadian cuisine it is . . . not too surprising that, in an artificial nation bound together by bands of steel, it should spread directly from our dining cars” (41). After all, this food travels. And traces of past moveable feasts remain in the form of menus and recipes such as these.
Nicole Parton’s recipe hails from yet another literary cookbook. Produced as a fundraiser for the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts in 1994, The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook contains recipes submitted by Canadian writers. Once you’ve made your CPR salad dressing, you’ll want to sample Robert Kroetch’s avgolemono soup, Carol Shields’ pasta dish and Lorna Crozier’s ginger snaps.
I chose this recipe for its all-too-familiar taste, for its literary provenance, and because this railway recipe so aptly announces our upcoming (virtual) trip. Over the next little while, we’ll be visiting Canada’s capital cities, testing and tasting their literary fare. Tune in to The Canadian Literary Fare blog to test your knowledge and then come to Tableaux for a taste.
From Nicole Parton in The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/4 cup malt vinegar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp dried minced onion or 2 tbsp fresh onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Zap in a blender and serve. This lasts a couple of months in the fridge, in a covered container.
Berton, Pierre and Janet Perton. The Centennial Food Guide: A Century of Good Eating. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1966. p.41. Print.
Parton, Nicole. “CPR Salad Dressing.” The Great Canadian Literary Cookbook. Eds. Gwendolyn Southin & Betty Keller. Sechelt: The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, 1994. p. 165. Print.
Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer