A few years ago, I developed a small (literary) obsession with geraniums. These flowers, which are actually pelargoniums, are everywhere in Canadian literature. From the nineteenth century to the present, this domesticated exotic has proven itself extremely versatile in the imaginations of our writers.
During my initial research, I located a number of references to the geranium’s culinary uses, but at the time, I had to set these aside. Now, in the spirit of summertime fare, I can’t resist exploring my geranium inventory a little further.
Enthusiasts of author L.M. Montgomery will recall that Marilla Cuthbert has an apple-scented geranium growing in her kitchen window. During her first morning at Green Gables, Anne names this plant “Bonny.” It’s a sentimental gesture, a sign of this orphan’s desire for a loving home (Boyd 83-84). In their documentation of this scene, the editors of The Annotated Anne of Green Gables state that as a kitchen herb, the geranium’s leaves “were used sometimes in flavourings” (81). Although we never see Marilla cooking with geraniums, a quick internet search produces numerous recipes: geranium flavoured cakes, sauces, and teas. Continue reading →
Welcome to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and the birthplace of Confederation!
A tour of Charlottetown’s literary fare would not be complete without a mention of the island’s most famous author L.M. Montgomery and the iconic 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables.
Although this young orphan grows up in the country near the town of Avonlea, Anne makes memorable trips to the capital. In the chapter “An Epoch in Anne’s Life,” a young Anne is invited to travel with her friend Diana Barry to visit wealthy Aunt Josephine Barry. Miss Barry takes the girls to the Exhibition grounds where many Avonlea residents are in attendance, winning competitions for their prized agricultural products and home-made edible goods.
The next evening, the girls attend a concert at the Academy and afterwards go to a restaurant for ice cream at 11:00 p.m. Oh the decadence of city life—Anne isn’t sure at first how she will “ever return to common life again” (270). But upon reflection, she realizes what she truly values:
“It’s nice to be eating ice-cream at brilliant restaurants . . . once in awhile; but as a regular thing I’d rather be in the east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind of knowing even in my sleep that the stars were shining outside and that the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook” (270).
Next week you will read all about Charlottetown’s literary fare on our sister blog. To pique your appetite, behold . . . a recipe featuring a certain slate-breaking, mouse-saucing, kindred spirit-searching redhead.
Cucumber . . . concummer . . . cowcummer . . . cowcumber. All are variants of cucumber. Or so says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). What the OED does not discuss are cucumbers in relation to boats. Is this vegetable sufficiently seaworthy? I – who have read at least four of Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey/Steven Maturin series and can therefore tell a luff from a lubber’s hole – would not venture to sail in one. The cucumber is, however, an excellent vessel for tuna salad. Or so says The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook from which this recipe is drawn.
Montgomery’s Anne books are chock-full of fare. At least two people have noticed this. The person who borrowed the Anne of Green Gables omnibus before me – from the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec – had discreetly (in pencil) underlined any and all mentions of food. I couldn’t help but feel a certain kinship with this unknown reader, vandal though s/he may be.
The second person is Kate McDonald, granddaughter of Montgomery and author of this literary cookbook. Within, you will find recipes for raspberry cordial (sans alcohol), plum pudding (sans mouse) and the cowcumber boats tested below.