When I cast my mind back over my childhood and teen years, driving through Ontario’s cottage country with my parents, I can recall signs advertising fall suppers in the little towns that dotted the route northeast of Toronto. But these were always on Sunday nights, and we had to get back to the city in time for everyone to get organized for their busy Monday mornings. Who were these people? And who has time for a fall supper? Well, lo these many years later, I do. In fact, I make time for them (and lament every squandered Sunday evening we drove silently past what was, undoubtedly, some very good eatin’).
The first fowl supper I ever enjoyed was about four years ago in the lovely town of Sedley (about forty minutes south of Regina). One taste was all it took to hook me for life. This may sound corny, but whenever I’m in some little town hall or hockey rink, surrounded by people who have come together to share a communal meal, support their community, and raise funds for some local something-or-other, my heart swells. It’s wonderful. I’m also a sucker for a good slice of pie, so that may contribute to the sense of bonhomie. Anyway, let’s get this year’s Fowl Supper season* started!
I enjoyed my first fowl supper of the 2014 season tonight, in fabulous Strasbourg, SK. Strasbourg’s supper was, as always, a marvel – a seamlessly executed event that draws everyone from the local girl guides to the volunteer fire fighters together to pull off a dinner you’ll want to save the date for again next year. This year’s offering included creamy coleslaw, buns, pickles, turnip, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and turkey (of course). As is the custom in Strasbourg, the bird was delicious – a mélange of tender, succulent light and dark meat carved and served together for the best of both worlds. For desert, there was a dizzying selection of pies to choose from: cherry, apple, pumpkin, lemon merengue, and pecan. I chose the pecan, and my dining companion the cherry. Neither of us was disappointed. We capped the meal off with a top-shelf cup of coffee and drove home happy.
This was the third year in a row I enjoyed Strasbourg’s supper, and it sure won’t be my last. Half the fun of taking in these suppers is the drive to the town itself. In Strasbourg’s case, this means driving through the beautiful Lumsden valley and along the edge of Last Mountain lake. Then there’s the friendly conversation that invariable crops up at long banquet tables. It’s a seating arrangement that encourages interaction and one that I’m sorry more restaurants don’t employ. Tonight, for example, I made the acquaintance of Clarence Biller. We struck up a conversation after he remarked on my photo-documentation of a plate of pie (“want a picture of mine too?”) Mr. Biller was the town’s pharmacist for 48 years and now farms just outside of Strasbourg. We talked about water-logged fields, hunting, the recent appearance of elk on his property, and urban sprawl. Who knows who I’ll meet at my next fowl supper!
Verdict: Strasbourg’s fowl supper is a perennial favourite for a reason; scenic environs, an excellent meal, and stellar company. 5 out of 5 Prairie Dogs.
*Upcoming fowl suppers this month include ones in McLean (Oct 11), Sedley (Oct 19), as well as Lumsden, Milestone, Pense, and Wolsley (all on Oct 26).