Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: A tale of two dinners

A rich squash and a baby duck: their stories from start to finish



One is a Queensland Blue. Right now it's a little sprout, but one day it will produce strikingly blue-toned squash that look like silvery moons with rich orange flesh inside.

The other is a Muscovy duckling - a ball of yellow and grey-brown fluff that hatched from its mottled pale purple egg only a few days ago. Today it's as big as a three-year-old's fist but soon it will grow into a handsome bird, maybe 8 to 12 pounds, prized for its tasty meat.

Both are from suppliers dedicated to diversified food sources, and both are being raised on farms in Pemberton Valley - the squash by Sarah McMillan at Rootdown Organics and the duckling by Jennie Helmer at Helmer's Organic Farm that's been in her family for more than a century.

This is the first of several installments about these two local foods to come over the next eight months or so. The final chapter of the series will take us into the cool of fall, when Canadian farmers traditionally reap what they've sown, providing the weather and pests and predators have been kind.

Sarah and Jennie will be our "field" correspondents throughout, sharing their respective tales from hatchling and seedling to dinner plate, come what may.

To start, we present...


The Queensland Blue

The Queensland Blue is close to Sarah McMillan's heart.

Growing up in Sydney, Australia, her mom, who is an excellent cook, would often serve it for "Sunday roast," a traditional dinner centred around the obligatory roast lamb or beef with crunchy roasted potatoes, a green veggie and, often, roasted Queensland Blue, called pumpkin not squash in Australia.

Scientifically speaking, pumpkins are squash, or is that vice versa? But different customs beget different names, and different climates beget different eating habits: Aussies eat more fresh fruits and veggies than do we winter-bound Canucks, largely due to quality and availability.

So back in January, when the snows in Pemberton were 30 feet deep, or at least it felt that way, Sarah and her partner, Gavin Wright, were already poring over seed catalogues with excitement.

"It's my favourite part," says Sarah. "It's like being a kid in the candy store. You have all these glossy colourful pictures of all the different varieties and it's, like, I'll take one of these and one of these - it's really fun."

Usually they get carried away, ending up with more seeds than intended, 87 different kinds to be exact this year, seven of them flowers - Sarah loves flowers - and 80 different vegetables, including the Queensland Blue.