Friday, March 28, 2008

What’s In a Name?


BeaverTails pastries, Tails, Indian bread, bannock, une Queues de Castor, a Canadian doughnut, a sugar maple pizza, a National identity, an Ottawa treasure, Kökle, little cake; Have you found another name for it? Can anybody really pinpoint the accurate historical name of the decadent treat that has become my (Canadian!? It’s Canadian right?...right!) obsession that has me sugar-rushing since 1983, that is the BeaverTails pastry?

According to your threads, dear BeaverTails fans, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding your favorite fine indulgence. On one of calorie-count.com’s forums, the BeaverTails pastry is described as a bannock (picture below) in the Canadian West Coast, confused as a real beaver’s tail (poor things; and yes they are edible and apparently very good for you), a bear claw doughnut or the American equivalent of “mini-doughnuts”. For many of you American BeaverTails fans, the last time you had your favorite treat was when the Canadian Pavilion at Walt Disney’s Epcot Centre was still handing them out, which was some time ago, and have stapled the Canadian soul to your premiere pastry every time you heard of something vaguely resembling its description in any context, hence, fueling the current confusion. All of you can agree however that you don’t care about the amount of calories you must burn before you rid yourself from the guilty pleasure of eating a BeaverTails pastry since they are quite simply, as Joelle Rousseau points out on calorie-count.com’s forum, “The best ever! - It’s hard not to have one.”

In his book, “Canadian Food Words” Bill Casselman describes Ottawa’s Beavertails (which is the product you are most likely familiar with, yes the real one you always eat at Winterlude or at The ByWard Market in Ottawa) as; “The culinary hit of every winter carnival in Canada's capital city. Adapted form an old family recipe based on a German dish called Küchl or Kökle ‘little cake.” The name BeaverTails was most likely used to refer to its shape at the time based on the fact that the sweet whole wheat dough had to be stretched into a beaver’s tail like shape. The name was also most likely inspired from the pages of Egerton R. Young’s 1894 missionary book “Stories From Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires” in which the author describes his Native American hosts roasting raw dough on a stick over a campfire, like you would marshmallows, into something his traveling group called a “beaver’s tail.”

For Shuny, a foreign exchange student in Ottawa, the pastry is coined simply as a “Canadian Specialty”. Her first trip to the ByWard Market BeaverTails store with her friends was quite the memorable experience, like for many of us. She insists however that we call her favorite treat by its proper French-Canadian name, using a proper Quebecois accent no less; Queues de Castor.

But in the end, most of you understandably care more about how this addictive treat will land in your mouth more than how it was once named or made. Whether you are waiting in line in the Old Port of Montreal for a Queues de Castor or catching a quick sugar-rushing bite of a BeaverTails pastry between runs on Mount-Washington in British Columbia, you know you will be getting the same great taste wherever you find a BeaverTails store!

Speaking of skiing, catch the new and exciting Queues de Castor mobile trailer at Ski Bromont this weekend! It has these cute pictures of people engulfing unapologetically your favorite treat, just like you would, wrapped around it.

Regretting nothing,
Justin

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More Snow Please!!

Have you recently woken up with the overwhelming feeling that the snow falls will never cease its incessant wrath on our glorious land? Do you often slip walking to work or school on a slick black patch of ice cleverly hidden under a powdered blanket of snow while still holding on, out of countenance, to the umbrella that is shielding you from the pellets of hail/ice rain/golf sized snow balls/stinging water pellets? Do you cringe every time someone says “I had such a wonderful time this weekend on the hills/ice/slopes!”? If you have stopped watching the Weather Network or tuned out radio forecasts that announce that we are expecting nothing more than SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! (“Another chilly and snowy night is upon us folks! Don’t put your snow shovels away just yet! Heh heh heh!”, chuckles the weatherman under his frosty breath and through his clamped teeth) and are seriously considering running away to a nice and snow-less tropical climate; then it is time to change your attitude and to brace the positive facts that you whisked aside last autumn the moment you saw the first snowfall! Now, put your oversized gloves on and your funny woolly hat that you keep pretending you don’t own and repeat after me, loudly, proudly and standing in three feet of snow;

Yes! There is still more wonderful snow falls coming our way!

Golly do I love dodging snowballs thrown by random street children!

Oh boy! Winter is not yet over and has yet to say its last chilling word!

My God! Even though my eyelids are frozen shut, I can still see just how pretty those ice sculptures really are!

Ha ha ha! I slipped on that ice patch…AGAIN! Ha ha ha!

Sure I’ll help you push your car out of that frighteningly tall snow bank Mister Jenkins!

Shoveling snow from my driveway makes me a better person!

To make these Canadian cold days and nights feel a little warmer, our most ardent fans, from coast to coast, have harmonized their love of winter with their addictions to BeaverTails pastries by attending a variety of wintry festivals and events that feature their favorite treats! Waiting in line in the brisk chilling weather for a warm BeaverTails pastry and a hot chocolate as you jump up and down trying to keep warm and rub your cupped hands to the warmness of your breath has never been more entertaining since the day you discovered you could put a carrot on a snowman’s round face.

Pearl Pirie, for example, an Ottawa based poet, shows us on her blog pictures of just how long a queue can get at the BeaverTails store in the ByWard Market in Ottawa even during the cold afternoons of one of the windiest cities in the world. Everyone looks so patient, decidedly focused and so happy (especially those eating their treats at the beginning of the line)!

A few weeks ago During the Carnival festivities in Quebec City, people were flocking to Robert Thériault’s Queues de Castor mobile truck for some hot chocolate and pastries and enjoyed their time with the famed Bonhomme and admired the fireworks reflecting off the ice sculptures!
In Montreal, La Nuit Blanche, the all night outdoor and indoor festival that was held last weekend, had hundreds of BeaverTails fans lining up at the Queues de Castor store in the Old Port as they gravitated from one nightly cultural activity to another. On her blog, Genesis (2 years old) and her mommy Jody, attendees of this Montreal event, simply described the BeaverTails treat as “THE BEST!!!”

In Vancouver, the BeaverTails store on Mount-Washington in the Alpine Lodge Courtyard will be hosting its 2nd annual Tail eating contest on Friday, March 21st 2008, an official event included in Mount-Washington's Sno Jam Spring Break. At the moment, there are over 100 participants signed up for the event! Can you beat last year’s record of four and half BeaverTails pastries gorged in less than two minutes?

Feel free to send me pictures and videos of your BT inspired winter events or become an official fan by posting them on the BeaverTails Canada Inc – Queues de Castor Fan page on Facebook!
Until then,

Enjoy the snow.

Warm yourself trough your indulgence.

Put a carrot on a snowman today!

Regretting nothing,
Justin