The Salt Spring Island movie theatre opened when I was about ten – I remember because one of the first films shown was the digitally re-mastered, re-released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was probably only the third film I’d ever seen in a theatre. [Edit: Apparently my memory is faulty, because Nate remembers the movie theatre being open waaaaaay earlier, and unfortunately for me, it turns out he’s right. It changed hands in the early 1990s so I must be remembering the re-opening, because I swear I never saw any movies there when I was really young…! Anyway, back to the story.] Community hall by day and movie theatre by night, when I was twelve it was also the scene of my very first ever date with a boy (I wasn’t allowed to see Dangerous Minds so we watched Babe), where we sat on folding chairs because only the first few rows were proper theatre seats. Instead of the celebrity gossip and pop culture “entertainment” that precedes movies these days, they would show slide shows featuring community events, and more often than not you’d see yourself or someone you knew on the screen while you waited in line at the concession, which brings me to the best part of the Salt Spring movie theatre: the popcorn. Real popcorn with real butter instead of a coating of yellow “butter flavour”, it only cost a few dollars a bag rather than upwards of $15 for popcorn and a drink. And to season it, instead of dill pickle or cheese flavouring, there were big shakers of nutritional yeast – because on Salt Spring, we eat our popcorn yeasted. And it’s delicious.
I’m not trying to claim that the combination of popcorn + nutritional yeast originated on the island, I’m just saying that most Salt Springers are are really, really into it. Each of us has probably introduced at least one non-islander to it, and as such, I like to think that we are partly responsible for its spread. Case in point: when I attended the University of Victoria, the on-campus movie theatre concession featured a shaker of nutritional yeast for popcorn, thanks to the fact that someone from Salt Spring worked there and the fact that so many islanders end up as students there.
So, what is this nutritional yeast I speak of? It’s a deactivated kind of yeast, different from bread-baking yeast and brewer’s yeast, that comes in a flaky form and has a savoury, umami, almost cheesy taste. Apparently it is both a complete protein and high in B vitamins.
You can do many things with nutritional yeast – it is often used in vegan cuisine in place of cheese and it makes a killer salad dressing – but my favorite use is on popcorn. I pop it in a big pot on the stove because I can’t justify the cupboard space for an air popper, ie: another single purpose appliance.
In my opinion, popcorn should ALWAYS be buttered…
…and tossed with lots of nutritional yeast and salt to taste.
My favorite part is skating my finger around the bottom of the empty bowl to catch all the buttery crumbles of yeast that didn’t stick to the popcorn. Mmm.
So tell me, people of the world who read my blog: have you ever eaten popcorn like a Salt Springer, or it is just us?
This post is part of The Canadian Food Experience Project, which began June 7, 2013. As we share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. The theme for March is “A Regional Canadian Food”. Visit Valerie’s blog, A Canadian Foodie, on the 15th for a round-up of this month’s posts.