I had another column planned for this week, but I put it on the back burner when I learned about a fun summer road trip offered by some folks in Alberta, Canada.
Pack your suitcase, gather up your maps, and bring along your passport. Weâ€™re off in search of the worldâ€™s largest monuments to food.Â You'll pass through the Canadian Rockies, around the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, and across wide-open prairies that were once home to wandering herds of Buffalo before coming to a fork in the road.Â Â Â
You can't miss the 6,000-pound, three-storey fiberglass and steel pyrohy (also pierogi, pyrogy) in the town of Glendon. The giant dumpling was erected there n 1991 as a tribute to the region's Ukrainian heritage. A sampling of this hearty fare is available from nearby restaurants and at the annual Pyrohy festival in Glendon, held the first Saturday in September.Â
Not far from Glendon, three towering mushrooms point the way to Vilna, famous for its succulent wild mushrooms. It's unlikely you'll find any as meaty as these 18,000-pounders, but you will have fun foraging in what was once a railroad boomtown.
Even the most seasoned foodies know that a great meal doesn't have to be complicated or pretentious. You can't take yourself too seriously when you're staring down the likes of Pinto McBean in Bow Island, Alberta.
As your culinary road trip continues, be sure to save room for some keilbasa. There's a 42-foot tall Ukranian sausage ring waiting for you in Mundare not far from Stawnichy's Meat Processing plant, along with homemade cabbage rolls, perishke, crepes and soups at the Mundare Sausage House in Edmonton. You'll find the soaring sausage listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.Â
The province best known for its cowboys and larger-than-life wild west does have a refined, metropolitan side, but we'll save the urban adventures for another trip.
For now, use www.chomparoundalberta.com as your guide. The web site, introduced this week, offers a directory of regional cuisine, farmers markets and other culinary destinations. Look for special events, lists of in-season fruits and vegetables, and links to restaurants.Â
The photo of the giant pierogi, taken by Frank Lâ€™Ecuyer, comes courtesy of the Village of Glendon.
All other photos courtesy of the Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation & Culture, Travel Alberta Photo & Video Library.Â
Lisa Gensheimer: Travel CorrespondentÂ
The CulinaryTourist appears every other Thursday and by chance in Gather Essentials: Travel. Explore all 50 states with award-winning documentary producer Lisa Gensheimer as she discovers the fun, food and people she meets along the way. Whether you're visiting the home of a faraway friend, stopping for directions at a roadside market, or on holiday in an exotic location, richly layered experiences await. A published author, Lisa has several new projects in the works, including a cultural cookbook and companion travel DVD. Read more about Lisa's work at MainStreetMedia.tv and TheForestPress.com.