Hit me with your Best Crop
Interview with Ricardo Larrivée
Gourmet dishes from around the world share a surprising secret ingredient—Canada. Television host/food writer Ricardo Larrivée is serving up a little something special to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 to show Canadians our greatest contributions to global cuisine.
"We are the Best", a Signature project of Canada 150, is a series of 52 bite-sized videos hosted by Ricardo Larrivée exploring the Canadian terroir. Each three minute story examines our greatest national products from every territory and province. Ricardo gives us a taste of what he has planned for "We are the Best".
- How did you come up with the idea for "We are the Best" for Canada 150?
People don’t know it, but a lot of the world’s food is made on our land. Whenever I was shooting something, where ever I was, I heard Americans bragging that they were the best, but I thought it was odd, because actually we are. That’s where the name comes from. Sometimes as Canadians we’re a little too low-profile, it’s a Canadian value and it’s very nice, but when I asked people to tell me why they’re the best, they said “oh, well I don’t feel comfortable saying that,” but if you’re the largest producer in the world, it’s not bragging. It’s great to be able to say: “hey you want the best wild rice? Well I make it, and I can tell you why!”
- What makes the terroir of Canada different from other countries?
Why do we go to somewhere like Italy or France? It’s because its different from one region to another, being different is a strength, and people from coast to coast should have a sense of pride in that. We’re heading to PEI for a story on lobster and scallops because Canada is the largest exporter of lobster, and within Canada, PEI is the largest exporter. They sell around 95 per cent of their catch to places around the world, and the Canadian lobster is unique because of the temperature of the water, the texture of the bottom of the ocean. Whether it’s muddy or sandy can change the taste of meat.
- What do you consider a classic Canadian food?
In Canada it’s not about centuries old recipes, it’s about quality products and the base staples that we need to cook. Like, French Dijon mustard, they crush it and jar it in France, but the mustard seeds are all from Saskatchewan. We export over a 100, 000 pounds of blueberries from Quebec each year, so if you buy blueberry jam, it’s from us. Ninety-five per cent of the pulses in the world are produced in Saskatchewan, and when people go to Italy and they’re flipping out over the pasta, 80 per cent of it is made with durum wheat from the Canadian Plains. Most people don’t know the vast majority of ginseng in China is actually made in Ontario.
A great recipe needs great ingredients made by people with big hearts. I think it’s a very exciting moment in history to live in this country because we can create what we want, and maybe in 200 years it’s going to be a Canadian classic. We have a national cocktail: the Bloody Caesar. It’s the only thing we drink coast to coast, and no one knows it outside the country. Clamato juice is made just for Canadians, it’s a part of our heritage, we love it, and we know it’s Canadian.
- Are there any stories so far that you have found inspiring?
We did a story on two cousins who moved with their wives from Morocco to Quebec when they were barely 20-years-old. They used to make couscous in Morocco and used stone wheat from Canada to make it, so they found the wheat here and started to make local couscous. Now they’re shipping tons and tons of couscous around the world – including Morocco! Couscous was unknown to Canada 20 years ago, and because of this family, you see couscous in grocery stores across the country.
- What would you like people to take away from "We Are the Best"?
I want them to say “wow I’m impressed, or I’m proud, or I didn’t know that.” The videos are short, so I just want people to remember one thing after three minutes: beer—we’re the best, salmon—we’re the best, mustard—we’re the best! We should associate the best with Canada.
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