We peruse the VMC/Musée de la Civilisation ‘Sharing the Meal!’ virtual exhibit

I didn’t know that we had a Virtual Museum of Canada. With close to 1600 member museums providing content, the VMC showcases a rich collection of Canadian heritage online in a ‘virtual exhibit’ format. One such museum is the Museum of Civilization; one such exhibit is called Sharing the Meal!.

The Sharing the Meal! exhibition explores what you and those around you are serving to help you discover new foods, recipes, terroirs and customs. From Lac-Saint-Jean tourtière to takeout sushi, from Aboriginal influences to the contributions of immigrants, from festive meals to fast food, Sharing the Meal! delves deliciously into our food heritage and our very identity.

Carlo O. Catelli founded Canada's first pasta plant in Montreal in 1867 which soon expanded to include local products.

Carlo O. Catelli founded Canada’s first pasta plant in Montreal in 1867 which soon expanded to include local products.

The exhibit is subdivided into a number of section. “Ingredients from around the world” explores what makes up Quebec’s food heritage, whose major influences include elements from Aboriginal, French, British, industrial, American, international and local food cultures.

“It’s a matter of taste” looks at the relationship between food and identity. Our family traditions, culture, and religion as well as lifestyle, socioeconomic situations and, of course, personal taste, all influence what and how we eat.


This 1928 store catalogue depict the kitchen utensils that were in vogue at the time

“Yesterday and tomorrow” is about how food traditions change over time. Our food heritage is created and recreated by “letting a food age, using a new tool or reinventing a recipe.”

'Gaspésie Sauvage', foragers from the Gaspé region in Quebec, showcase their regional wares

‘Gaspésie Sauvage’, foragers from the Gaspé region in Quebec, showcase their regional wares

“Biting into Places” explores the connection between food and place. “The foods we eat tell the stories of the places they came from…Certain foods are forever part of the traditions of particular cities and regions. ”

The Meredith family's mincemeat

The Meredith family’s mincemeat

10 different families are featured for the various ways that their stories tie into the larger story of Quebec food traditions. Videos show snippets of meal preparation, family feasts and festivities with images and ‘artifacts’ rounding our the exhibit. For the Meredith family Christmas is the time to honour longstanding family traditions, and they share their recipe for mincemeat, which we’ve added to our site.

Many of these ideas and themes are threaded throughout the Roots & Recipes project and videos; the memories evoked and comfort provided by a dish from home, the adaptations and alterations that take place when a recipe is recreated in a new land and by a new generation, and the family traditions, whether religious or otherwise, that are interwoven into the everyday act of preparing a meal.  All of our featured grandparents have made their own contributions to Quebec’s food heritage, and so we contributed some of our videos to the Sharing the Meal! exhibit. Find them in the various “Contributions” sections of the exhibit.

So here’s a ‘ticket‘! Why not check it out now? You don’t even need to get up from your desk!