It’s amazing what a good story will get you. It can entertain, enlighten, give pause, or give focus. The same goes with a book. Or in this case, promoting one.
Promoting Pantry and Palate has landed me - and the book - in all sorts of places. It graced the front page of the Arts and Life section of The Globe and Mail, with an excerpt of the book and then was included in a series of new books talking about Canadian cuisine. I also had a really great chat with fellow food writers Jonah Campbell and Linda Mecheksfe over at Quill and Quire. An interview I shot a few months ago for the french language media organization TFO also went live on social media.
Also on the french tip, I also did two interviews for Radio-Canada- one for the local morning show Le RéveiI, as well as Tout un Samedi (at 9:15) which airs in Atlantic Canada. Over at CBC I was back on the air, but this time on the other side of the microphone, being interviewed by Jonna Brewer at Information Morning in Moncton.
I also wanted to give special mention that I had a great time shooting a video interview for Chatelaine magazine, which you can watch here. Soo Kim and the rest of the gang at Chatelaine were great to chat with, and I only wish I’d had more time. Next time.
Pantry and Palate is on store shelves. Pre-orders of the book have been dropped off in mailboxes across the country. I’ve started getting messages from people on social media that they have received and are enjoying the book. People are making everything from seaweed pies to salted onions. One person told me that they made the cornmeal molasses bread for their kids and that they loved it. I get random tweets and Instagram photos of people’s efforts. It’s no longer a bunch of recipes on my computer screens. It’s living in their cupboards and fridges.
But the thing that arguably marked me the most was a recent trip to Toronto to speak at the Terroir Symposium. The main topic of the conference was Canadian food. It’s not easy to define or focus such an expansive topic. There were agricultural, historical, cultural, and ethical issues to discuss. There were amateur and professional chefs, writers, and academics. And of course, there was food. But I was there to tell a story, and talk about Acadian food.
I was to speak on a panel about French-Canadian cuisine with some pretty distinguished guests, including Cyril Gonzales and Alex Cruz from École Buissonière (previously from Société Original,), chef Anne Desjardins (who helped promote season and Canadian cuisine way before people really thought about such things) and Geneviève from Caribou magazine, (a french-language periodical that intently and intensely looks at the food and people of Québec).
I was the last to speak, and the only one to speak about French-Canadian food outside of Québec. I was glad to be invited to the table, and felt it was my obligation to sing for my supper - or in this case tell a story. But it was also my job to lay claim to a place at the table - and I say that knowing that I risk making myself sound a little adamant. The refrains I kept (and keep) hearing were “I didn’t know about this cuisine. I didn’t know about these stories. I didn’t know about these lives.” And this was often followed by “yet I still connected with it.”
Telling a story about food is an act of reconnection: familial, temporal, mnemonic. We often our food stories are intensely unique - and in a way they are - but in a more important manner they are universal. And when that story hasn’t been told, or listened to, or had a light shone on it very much, it’s rewarding to see it come through and connect to so many.