Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sauerkraut, Perogies and Old Gents

Sampling the fare of different ethnic communities around town is a personal goal of mine this year.

Sort of like a mid-year New Year's reunion.

It all came about after dropping off our two South America-bound correspondents at the airport. On the way back I drove by the Vancouver landmark "Deutsches Haus", which sits plumply (yes, a building can sit plumply - especially a German/Bavarian Building) off 33rd and Victoria.

Driving buy I realized it has been a long time since I sunk my teeth into Bratwurst, Spaetzle, Currywurst, Blaukraut, and the old fried favorite - Wiener Schnitzel. What better way to celebrate the German community its heritage in Vancouver than to round up a posse and head down to Deutsches Haus to see what tasty times await.

It's also neat to do so, not at the latest trendy eatery off Main or Broadway, but rather in a den that local Germano-Vancouverites (that word has now been copyrighted by your's truly) keep coming to decade after decade. It's kinda like the Legion experience for those of you have ever frequented a Royal Canadian Legion and had the honor of chatting and sharing beers with some of our veterans in their home away from home.

It also wet an appetite to explore similar old school ethnic bastions that I know are hidden across the city, and which are rally points for dozens of other communities.

A few months ago, I visited one such place in Strathcona during Vancouver's East Side Culture Crawl. That day we hit up the a Ukrainian church basement and filled up on buttery homemade perogies (assembled, I like to dream,
painstakingly by old, thick and boisterous Ukrainian grandmas who while surviving Stalin, famine and the 5 Year Plans, managed to perfect the best perogie recipe in history), rich sweet and sour cabbage rolls, and hearty and salty Ukrainian sausage. It was a blast, made even better by the diversity of community that turned out and the great hosting of the local Ukrainian community.

The French cultural centre is another great example of delicious French cuisine imported to Vancouver (though its a bit more high class than the aformentioned examples - not a big surprise right?). There you can wander around the community centre and see what theatre, shows, and films are coming up until you're seated by a dainty francophone hostess who sketches out le menu du jour from memory and helps you select which entre to enjoy (will it be filet mignon or a salad de fruits with fresh baguette? - oooooh the hemming and hawing). All this can be enjoyed for an incredibly reasonable price considering the quality of the meal and experience.

I'm looking forward to see if the Germans can measure up to the Ukrainians and French when it comes to tasty food and unique atmosphere. I'm hopeful they'll knock the sox off both of them, but knowing the culinary history of the German people, Im not willing to put more than a handful of change on it.

And if you have any suggestions of delectable restaurants that host and represent a cultural community in the Lower Mainland, let me know. I'd love to try em.

No comments: