Friday, December 4, 2009
The Scots' heraldry is the Rampant Lion. The Imperial Eagle is the American emblem, as it was for Napoleon and the Roman Legion and the Holy Roman Empire. Canadians have the Beaver. I think we may be the only country I can think of with a rodent, albeit a big rodent, as emblematic of the country. Industrious, hunkered down in the winter, hypervigilant and easily made into hats, is that us? Some time ago the pianist and I went with our son to a festive dinner and Anglican service in James Bay Cree land near Waswanipi in Quebec . My son was the incumbent priest in the district and conducted the service in the Cree language to a good degree. As it was, we had an in! It was frankly a wonderful experience and unforgetable. We had a culturally correct meal consisting of, amongst other things , chunks cut from a pit- fired beaver and a bread- cake topped with bear grease! Our normal capacity to eat lavishly was tempered, but our hosts were forgiving, after the first tentative tidbits were tried. Both the Anglican and the Catholic church proselytized in the north in the early days, including writing biblical translations and hymns in Cree. For us it was a privilege to listen in to the service, conducted with our son's mandolin and a Cree musician's guitar. I am reminded of similar, recent gastronomical episodes in the far north, with our Governor General, and later, the Tory caucus, tasting seal meat . Seal may become Canadian haute cuisine, but what about beaver! Take that Brigitte Bardot and your European Union!