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Vínarterta: Stories of Migration, Tradition & Cake
December 2, 2018 @ 14:00 - 18:30
Made with prunes and cardamom, vínarterta is an Icelandic cake named after Vienna that is more popular today among North Americans with Icelandic heritage than in its home country.
As often happens in the diaspora, preserving the original Icelandic recipe was a priority in Canada and the United States; whereas, in Iceland the recipe evolved. There bakers might use rhubarb or strawberry jam. In Canada the prune filling, however, is law; and, like any law, different interpretations spark heated debates. Cardamom or cinnamon in the prune jam? Six layers or seven? Frosting or no frosting?
Details aside, vínarterta has become a classic Christmas cake in Canada both among and beyond communities with Icelandic heritage. Beyond the North Atlantic, the story of vínarterta is relevant to contemporary discussions about tradition, food and migration. Vínarterta is an example of how heritage foods that are believed to be associated with one place might, in fact, evolve and have deeper roots elsewhere.