Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wine and Marshmallows

U.S. campground stores fill every vertical and horizontal surface, sometimes including the ceiling, with a hodgepodge of junky souvenirs, garbage candy, water toys, T-shirts. In contrast to the United States sugar and plastic chaos … The KOA camp store outside Quebec City felt completely calm, was mostly empty space except for a few neat cases and shelves of merchandise. What was this merchandise? Bottles of wine. Lindt chocolates. Artisanal cheeses. Loose-leaf tea tins. Designer scarves. Sequined evening wear. Oh, and their only bow to campfire tradition: marshmallows.

Another way I appreciated the French/Canadian preference for life’s finer things was in single-serving jam, honey, and peanut butter packets. In Canada, they’re the real deal. Cross the border to the U.S., and these little packets contain high-fructose corn syrup. Interestingly, the supplier of these packets to both countries is Kraft. They must use different recipes for different consumers.

On the other hand, Vermont shops and tourist attractions feature almost exclusively products handcrafted in Vermont from pure ingredients. My personal favorite so far is Liz Lovely’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, certified vegan Triple Chocolate Mint cookies. Had I known what a rich, chocolatey melt-in-your-mouth burst of fresh mint each bite was, I would have bought more of these cookies. Turkey at Shelburne Farms tasted pure and the greens freshly plucked from the earth. And in the Marketplace Café in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, my husband and I each ate the best sandwich we’ve ever eaten in our lives—all natural, local ingredients. Even bean sprouts—we would have felt like such hippies if it hadn’t been for all the necktied businessmen in the café as well. These pure-tasting, healthy meals included bacon. Could it be? Bacon can be a health food? :-)

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