My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory – Butter Tarts
This summer, Valerie Lugonja over at A Canadian Foodie embarked on an interesting journey. She founded The Canadian Food Experience Project. Beginning June 7, 2013, participants are encouraged to share their stories about their own remarkable encounters with Canadian regional foods. By doing so, we can all gain a clearer perspective on what makes the Canadian culinary identity.
No doubt many people across this great land of ours boast of their own wonderful rendition of the classic butter tart. Some places, like Wellington County, Ontario, even celebrate their own butter tart trail. Is this little sweet thing really worth all of that adulation? Well, I had my own little butter tart epiphany about 20 years ago, and I think, yes, it does indeed deserve all that and more. The butter tart, as far as I can tell, has been elevated to the status of something akin to a superfood in Ontario. It may not be able to claim all those antioxidant or energy boosting benefits. It can, however, fill you with a very cozy emotional warmth, and isn’t that just as good as any other health benefit?
I didn’t experience the gooey goodness until my teens. I think it was my brother-in-law, being of British heritage, who first opened my eyes to them. He loved them. The sweeter, the better, he’d say. He also preferred them with raisins. You might wonder how it is that it took until then to discover them. Blame it on my Italian heritage. We don’t do butter tarts. So, here was a challenge I could sink my teeth into. To be fair, I didn’t really like them when I first tried them. I wasn’t used to anything that sweet, and in all honesty, I didn’t like raisins. But, that first taste launched me onto a journey to find “my” butter tart. It was while on that quest that I learned a couple of very important facts about them. First, I discovered that butter tarts don’t have to be filled with raisins. To my delight they could be perfectly plain. Ok, that was the first hurdle scaled. But, what to do about that sweetness? Recipe after recipe I tried … variation after variation, they were all just too sweet for me. That was when I discovered the second very important fact. Butter tarts can be whatever you want them to be. It was then, after some experimenting that I landed on the recipe that’s become a family favourite. The secret? All I did was substitute honey for the corn syrup, and voilà, a super scrumptious (not too sweet) butter tart.