October is home to two monthlong celebrations in Canada: Women’s History Month and Latin American Heritage Month. Let’s take a look at how these holidays are celebrated in Canada and how food plays a role.
Women’s History Month corresponds with the celebration of International Day of the Girl (October 11) and Persons Day (October 18). This year marks the 30th anniversary of the commemorative month and has the theme of “She Did, So Now I Can,” which celebrates those who fought to improve the lives of Canadian women.
Women’s History Month was proclaimed in Canada in 1992, aiming to highlight the important contributions of women and girls to society. October coincides with the anniversary celebration of the historic 1929 court decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons.” The case, handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal, gave some women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and helped pave the way for women’s increased participation in both public and political life.
There are many female chefs who’ve influenced Canada and its culinary traditions. SAGE venues throughout Canada will be focusing on Canadian female chefs this month. Here, we highlight some of them:
- Lynn Crawford is a farm-to-table enthusiast and advocate for sustainability. She cooks with many ingredients she harvests herself. She previously served as the executive chef at the Four Seasons hotels in both Toronto and New York City, and she was an Iron Chef on “Iron Chef Canada.”
- When microwave ovens gained popularity in the 1970s, Jehane Benoît modified recipes and created cookbooks specifically for microwave cooking. She started her own cooking school in Montreal, Fumet de la Vieille France, after studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and she also opened one of Canada’s first vegetarian restaurants, The Salad Bar, in 1935.
- In 2017, Jinhee Lee became the first woman in 10 years to win the gold medal at the Canadian Culinary Championships. She specializes in pan-Asian cuisine and is known for her creative flavors and clean, thoughtful dishes.
- When she was only 25 years old, Mary Berg became the first woman to win “MasterChef Canada.” She’s since been the host of two TV cooking shows, “Mary’s Kitchen Crush” and “Mary Makes It Easy,” and has released two cookbooks.
October is also Latin American Heritage Month in Canada. In 2018, the Parliament of Canada declared October as Latin American Heritage Month in recognition of the Latin American community’s substantial contribution to Canadian society. According to the Canadian government, Canadians of Latin American origin make up a large and growing population in the country, and they “enrich our national fabric with their diverse and vibrant cultures, cuisine, music, dance, and more.”
October was chosen as Latin American Heritage Month because of its significance for the international Latin American community, including:
- Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures, October 10).
- Día de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Day, October 12).
- Día de la Raza (Day of the Race, October 12).
- Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, October 12).
- Día de la Resistencia Indigena (Day of Indigenous Resistance, October 12).
Thanksgiving in Canada is also celebrated in October, and there are many Latin American dishes that can be prepared for the holiday dinner, including carnitas; turkey stuffed with ground beef, chorizo, bacon, and pork; and arroz con leche, a sweet rice pudding.
In addition, the end of October is a time to begin preparing for Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, on November 1 and 2. It celebrates the lives of loved ones who’ve passed away with food, drink, parties, festivals, and activities the dead enjoyed in their lifetime. Traditional food can include Mexican sweet bread, tamales, moles, atoles (hot corn-based beverages), enfrijoladas (enchiladas covered in a black bean sauce), sugar skulls, and other dishes important to the dead.
Try out this popular recipe to celebrate Latin American Heritage Month:
Sonoran Enchilada Stacks
1 ¾ cups canned enchilada sauce
1 cup canned tomato purée
1 ½ teaspoons chile powder
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups canned vegetarian refried beans
12 6-inch soft corn tortillas
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 ½ cups chopped green onions
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Prepare cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
STEP 2: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the enchilada sauce, tomato purée, chili powder, and ground cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
STEP 3: Dip half of the tortillas in the sauce and place on prepared cookie sheet. Top each tortilla evenly with half of the beans, cheese, and green onions. Repeat the process, layering tortillas on top of each other (each stack should have 2 tortillas).
STEP 4: Bake for 8 minutes or until the cheese melts.