Anthony Bourdain is off to Québec, Canada, to indulge in one of his most hedonistic pleasures—foie gras. He visits a duck farm and processing plant to see how foie gras is made, teaches a class at the Montréal Culinary Institute, and plays hockey with a local university hockey team.
Québec is a province in east-central Canada; the capital of the province is Québec City. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger.
At the time of first European contact and later colonization, Algonquian, Iroquois and Inuit tribes were the peoples who inhabited what is now Québec. The first French explorer to reach Québec was Jacques Cartier, who in 1534 planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I. It was the first province of New France.
Quebec is Canada's second most populous province, after Ontario. Most inhabitants live in urban areas near the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City, the capital. English-speaking communities and English-language institutions are concentrated in the west of the island of Montreal but are also significantly present in the Outaouais, Eastern Townships, and Gaspé regions. The Nord-du-Québec region, occupying the northern half of the province, is sparsely populated and inhabited primarily by Aboriginal peoples.
Québec is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level. The politics of language has always played against issues of Quebec nationalism and Quebec separatism. English-speaking Quebecers maintain a strong Canadian identity, with about 90% opposing Quebec sovereignty in 1980 and 1995 referendums.
Sovereignty plays a large role in the politics of Quebec, and the official opposition social democratic Parti Québécois advocates national sovereignty for the province and secession from Canada. Sovereignist governments have held referendums on independence in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the Canadian House of Commons passed a symbolic motion, the Québécois nation motion, recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada."
While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles. These many industries have all contributed to helping Quebec become the second most economically influential province, second only to Ontario.
Montréal is the largest city in the province of Québec and the second-largest city in Canada, with an estimated metropolitan area population of 3.9 million, and a population of 1.6 million in the city of Montréal city itself. French is the city's official language and is also the language spoken at home by 59.9% of the population, followed by English at 19.4%; more than half of the population reports being able to speak both English and French. Montréal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.
In 1642, a French mission named Ville Marie was built. Ville Marie would later become Montréal (now Old Montréal). Ville Marie became a centre for the fur trade and French expansion into New France until 1760, when it was surrendered to the British army, following the French defeat of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. British immigration expanded the city. The city's golden era of fur trading began with the advent of the locally owned North West Company.
Montréal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The city's growth was spurred by the opening of the Lachine Canal which linked the established port of Montreal with continental markets and spawned rapid industrialization during the mid 19th century.
Montréal was the capital of the United Province of Canada from 1844 to 1849, bringing even more English-speaking immigrants: Late Loyalists, Irish, Scottish, and English. However, riots led by Tories led to the burning of the Provincial Parliament, forcing the government to move the capital to Toronto. The growing city also attracted immigrants from Itally and Eastern Europe. The economic boom attracted French Canadian laborers from the surrounding countryside to factories in satellite cities, making English and French groups roughly equal in size. In 1852, Montréal had 58,000 inhabitants and by 1860, Montréal was the largest city in British North America and the undisputed economic and cultural centre of Canada.
From 1861 to the Great Depression of 1930, Montréal went through what some historians call its Golden Age. During the 1920s and 1930s the Prohibition movement in the United States turned Montréal into a haven for Americans looking for alcohol. Americans would go to Montréal for drinking, gambling, and prostitution, unrivalled in North America at this time, which earned the city the nickname "Sin City." As with the rest of the world, the Great Depression brought unemployment to the city, but this waned in the mid 1930s and skyscrapers began to be built.
Today, Montréal is consistently rated as one of the world's most livable cities, and was called "Canada's Cultural Capital" by Monocle Magazine. In 2006, Montréal was named a UNESCO City of Design; only one of three design capitals of the world (with the others being Berlin and Buenos Aires). It is an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, film and world affairs.
People of European ethnicities form the largest cluster of ethnic groups in Montréal. The largest reported European ethnicities in Montréal are: French (23%), Italians (10%), Irish (5%), English (4%), Scottish (3%), and Spanish (2%). Some 26% of the population of Montréal, are members of a visible minority (non-white) group. The most numerous minorities are Blacks (7.2%), Latin Americans (2.1%), South Asians (2%), and Chinese (2%).
Nunavik is a vast territory, larger than the state of California, located in the northernmost part of Québec. It lies in both the Arctic and subarctic climate zones. Almost all of the 11,627 inhabitants of the region, of whom 90% are Inuit, live in fourteen northern villages on the coast of Nunavik. There are no road links between Nunavik and southern Québec. There is a year-round air link to all villages and seasonal shipping in the summer and autumn.
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada (Northwest Territories, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, Nunatukavut), Denmark (Greenland), Russia (Siberia) and the United States (Alaska). Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. An Inuk is an Inuit person. In Canada, since the Inuit consider the name "Eskimo" pejorative, it has fallen out of favor. In Canada, the Constitution Act of 1982 recognized the Inuit as a distinctive group of Canadian aboriginals, who are neither First Nations nor Métis. The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.
The Inuit have traditionally been hunters and fishers. They still hunt whales (esp. bowhead whale), walrus, caribou, seal, polar bears, muskoxen, birds, and at times other less commonly eaten animals such as the Arctic Fox. The typical Inuit diet is high in protein and very high in fat—75% of their daily energy intake comes from fat. While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic, the Inuit have traditionally gathered those that are naturally available. Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, and seaweed are collected and preserved depending on the season and the location.
In the 1960s, the Canadian government funded the establishment of secular, government-operated high schools in the Northwest Territories and Inuit areas in Québec and Labrador along with the residential school system. These schools, in Aklavik, Iqaluit, Yellowknife, Inuvik and Kuujjuaq, brought together young Inuit from across the Arctic in one place for the first time, and exposed them to the rhetoric of civil and human rights that prevailed in Canada in the 1960s. This was a real wake-up call for the Inuit, and it stimulated the emergence of a new generation of young Inuit activists in the late 1960s who came forward and pushed for respect for the Inuit and their territories.
Inuit communities in Canada continue to suffer under crushing unemployment, overcrowded housing, substance abuse, crime, violence and suicide. However, many Inuit are upbeat about the future. Arguably, their situation is better than it has been since the 14th century.
Inuit culture is alive and vibrant today in spite of the negative impacts of recent history. Inuit arts, carving, print making, textiles and throat singing, are very popular, not only in Canada but globally, and Inuit artists are widely known. Indeed, Canada has, metaphorically, adopted some of the Inuit culture as a sort of national symbol, using Inuit cultural icons like the inukshuk in unlikely places, such as its use as a symbol at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Respected art galleries display Inuit art, the largest collection of which is at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Some Inuit languages such as Inuktitut, appears to have a more secure future in Québec and Nunavut. There are a surprising number of Inuit, even those who now live in urban centres such as Ottawa, Montréal and Winnipeg, who have experienced living on the land in the traditional life style.
Anthony Bourdain begins his culinary expedition in Montréal, adding that the only reason he's in Montréal in the middle of its winter is to visit with chef Martin Picard, a personal idol and counter-revolutionary in the world of gastronomy, as well as one of the best chefs in Canada.
Au Pied de Cochon Restaurant: Anthony drops in on his old friend chef Martin Picard who owns one of Anthony's most favorite restaurants in the world, Au Pied de Cochon, located in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. The area is home to many upscale restaurants and nightclubs, trendy stores, and brightly-colored houses. Martin specializes in foie gras, a dish made from the liver of a duck that has been specially fattened by force-feeding them corn.
Palmex Farm: Anthony accompanies Martin to the Palmex farm and processing facilities so he can get a better understanding of where quality foie gras comes from. Palmex farm is Martin's premier supplier of foie gras and all things duck. As they tour the facilities, Anthony enthusiastically explains the numerous culinary uses of the various parts of the duck are used aside from just its liver.
Au Pied de Cochon Restauran: Chef Picard prepares what Anthony refers to as his "Waterloo of gluttony." Martin's battle plan is simple: keep sending out a barrage of dishes until Anthony either surrenders or dies.
Martin prepares for Anthony a fest like none he's ever had:
- amuse bouche as the appetizer, followed by sausage du foie gras
- pumpkin foie gras
- poutine de foie gras—foie gras, cheese curds, brown sauce and foie gras sauce, with french fries
- foie gras with bacon, buckwheat pancakes, maple-syrup sauce, and lard
- hamburger de foie gras—basically made with a big wad of foie gras
- tarte de foie gras cru au sel (cured foie gras tart)
- savory boudin noir with salted foie gras and potatoes
- halibut fish and chips
- rabbit stuffed with foie gras, giblets and duck
- cassoulet—a rich bean stew cooked with goose-fat sausages and duck confit.
When the "duck in can" arrives—basically a pound of duck and a pound of foie gras cooked inside a can with some sauce, Anthony finally has to concede defeat as his own liver begins to resemble the principal ingredient in this "apocalyptic onslaught of all things delicious."
Dante Sports: Since Anthony is the guest instructor for the day at the Montréal Culinary Institute, he visits Dante Sports, a legendary kitchen supply store that not only sells everything you need to cook your food, but everything you need to kill it, including firearms.
Shooting Range: Inspired to shoot something, he goes to a shooting range to fire off a few rounds at clay discs thrown into the air.
La Banquise: Anthony joins Ian and his friends at La Banquise to indulge in an artery-clogging meal of poutine. La Banquise specializes in all things poutine—a Québecois "national dish". Basically, poutine is French fries, topped with cheese curds and gravy. The group orders five of their favorite versions of poutine, including the Trois Viandes (Three Amigos), which combine four different types of meat on top, and the Kamikaze, which is topped with peppers and Tabasco sauce.
Sucrerie de la Montagne: At a friend's recommendation, Anthony has breakfast at Sucrerie de la Montagne. Built on a 200-year-old Québec heritage site about an hour outside of Montréal, Sucrerie de la Montagne is located in a 120 acre picturesque maple forest where visitors can watch maple syrup being made. The restaurant offers a traditional sugar-shack meal in a large, rustic mess-hall, with long tables and benches and live music. The family-style platters are shared among diners and include pea soup, homemade, rusty bread, back bacon, maple-smoked ham, baked beans, omelette, meatball stew, sausages, potatoes, meat pie, homemade pickles and condiments, pancakes, sugar pie, tea and coffee.
Seal Hunt and Family Feast: Anthony hops a twin-engine aircraft up to Nunavik, the artic territory of Quebec and home to the Inuits. Charley, a hunter and guide, takes him along on a seal hunt. After a successful hunt, Anthony watches with mixed emotions as Charley's family butchers the seal on the kitchen floor, following a prayer of thanks. Nothing is wasted, not even the brain, blood, eyeballs or whiskers. The blubber is later boiled down and used a medicine. As they work, they offer Anthony a sample of every part of the sea, including the choice parts.
Montréal Culinary Institute: Back at the Montréal Culinary Institute, Anthony finally gives his highly anticipated lecture and cooking demonstration. Anthony's a bit disappointed, although not surprised, that the budding students are more interested in asking him about some of the more bizarre foods he has eaten on his travels than in any real culinary advice he has to offer.
La Maison Du Bagel: A couple of Anthony's more promising culinary students challenge his view about the supremacy of the New York City bagel by taking him to La Maison Du Bagel. Situated in Montréal's Jewish quarter, this bagel shop is rumored to have the best bagels in the world. Anthony samples one and begrudgingly admits that it's surprising good, but hardly the best in the world.
Game of Ice Hockey: Anthony decides to gear up in full goalie armor for a friendly game of hockey with the Concordia University hockey team, the Concordia Stingers. As he's assailed by a barrage of hockey pucks, Anthony reflects back upon how friendly and nonviolent our neighbors to the North he has met all seem to be. But as he's dragged off the ice rink semi-conscious, he suddenly sees them in a different light.
Ice hockey is a national pastime and the most popular spectator sport in Canada. The most popular sport in Montréal is also ice hockey. The city's professional hockey team, the Montréal Canadiens, are one of the original six teams of the National Hockey League (NHL), and boast an NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup championships. The New York Yankees of Major League Baseball are the only team in North American sports to have more championship titles, with 27 World Series titles.