My mother, daughter and I laughed our way through the poignant Jack
Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie The Bucket List last week. Each of us had a
different perspective, which makes sense considering our ages.
Toronto Life Magazine published it’s own ‘bucket list’ in December and the
Barrie area figured well in the absolutely must-haves before you die.
Called 100 must-try-before-you-die tastes, the author claimed that all foods
named were made in Toronto.
But if you check out #63, The Butter Tarts at Nathan Phillips Square’s
farmer’s market, you’ll find that Barrie gets mention, sort of. These
butter tarts were launched first in the 1900 Royal Victoria Hospital
Auxiliary’s Cook Book, and are credited as the first known recipe for butter
tart filling. A voluptuous mix of eggs, butter, sugar and currants, this
recipe is credited to Mrs. Malcolm MacLeod. [Remember, this is 1900 and
women are ‘the wife of’ almost everywhere]. Mrs. MacLeod’s tarts recipe
made its way like wildfire across southern Ontario, with variations
published in small town newspapers for the next decade.
More than a century later, the butter tart love affair continues and those
in love with this delicacy can describe it in affectionate terms. Not too
sweet, moderately firm, well browned on the top, flaky crest.
The article goes on to tell readers where they can buy these tarts, at $4.50
for 6 of them. Farmers stands, a Halton Hills farm.
Move back in the article to #40, Cookstown’s baby salad greens. This
company has been the staple in fine chef kitchens for years, and you can
count on every fine Barrie restaurant to be offering edible flowers and
specialized greens in their salad dishes.
Obviously the Toronto Life article goes on to encourage people to try nitter
kibbeh, jerusalem artichokes, and amazing maple mustard.
But our interest stops at the butter tarts. The Barrie butter tarts. Mrs.
MacLeod’s butter tarts. Jean McGinley, immediate past president of the RVH
Auxiliary, says the auxiliary is in possession of one copy of that original
1900 cook book. And there, on page 88, under Pies, is a two line filling
submitted by Mrs. Malcolm MacLeod.
The Auxiliary has been a crucial arm of the hospital for its 110 years,
giving over $5 million recently to the hospital for the new cancer care
centre. Jean has belonged to the auxiliary for 14 years, serving as
president in 2005/06. She is the group’s archivist and is hoping that the
new expansion will have room for an archives cabinet.
Surely this original cookbook will be on the top shelf.
The auxiliary (with more members than RVH has staff) is publishing a new
cookbook this year to celebrate its 110th year of service to RVH. And yes,
Mrs. MacLeod’s butter tart recipe will be included.
Wouldn’t it be great to go into RVH and sidle up to Cafe Royale (the second
floor fundraising cafe for the auxiliary) and order one of those butter
Best things to taste before you die. I’ll add this to my bucket list!
Thanks, Jean. And a posthumous thanks to Mrs. Malcolm MacLeod.