If you’re my FB friend or follow this blog, you already know some things about me. I’m a retired IT consultant. A new author. But this year, I became a grandmother. I didn’t know how wonderful it would feel, how much more love could grow in one’s heart, a heart already full with a life’s worth of family and friends. In retirement, I’ve reconnected with my military brat childhood via FB groups, groups that have led to real-life meetups and friendships. This Christmas season, I thank you all, family, real-life friends, and all my new FB friends. I truly am a lucky girl. Merry Christmas to you. Please enjoy this new excerpt from my upcoming book, “First We Eat. Food, Life, and (More) Stories”, as my holiday offering.
“As a lucky Canadian, I’ve learned the food history and stories of my family, my grandparents, my European immigrant ancestors. Canada, the tossed salad of the world, has many food cultures to enjoy. But history and culture evolve, and food preparation evolves, and so do the stories of them and with them. My father was in the Army, and then my husband was in the Air Force – there were unique family circumstances in this kind of life to contribute to my inventory of food stories. I grew up and lived all over the country and even out of it, from being born in Calgary, Alberta, to living in Germany and then back to Canada, to Labrador and Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, back to Alberta, and finally settled in my kids’ hometown of Aylmer, a part of Gatineau, Québec and in the National Capital region of Ottawa, Ontario. Cultural differences of a locale are always reflected in their food, so I’ve had quite the variety in my life: prairie family picnics, German fasching food (carnival food like chocolate cream puffs with wafer bottoms); Newfoundland fish feeds (seal flipper pie, did I really eat that? Or dream it? I remember reading about it in one of my mother’s ladies’ homemade recipe books); Québec cabanes à sucre (maple sugar shacks) where suckers are made by rolling the thickened boiled syrup on a stick in the snow). Over a lifetime of six decades, I’ve also discovered my own ways with food. Providing and preparing sustenance is a daily act of life, and as society changes, so do our food rituals. What we eat as children is almost certainly not what we eat as adults, nor how. I’ve noticed that as I age, however, that I’m drifting back to those earlier times of my life with food. Ah, but what a journey, life; life and food!
One of my first memories is of eating a peanut butter sandwich with a cousin on the cement steps of someone’s (mine? his?) house. Summertime. Wearing shorts, my brown hair in pigtails. Swatting away flies (so probably at my cousin’s home – all my cousins lived in the prairie countryside, rife with flies at every meal, especially, but not restricted to, outdoors.) Do you recall, or did you know, that old homes with wooden window frames had small circular holes in the sill – or maybe the frame itself, I don’t know – on the outside of the bottom of the window? Ventilation? I think they were winter storm windows, but not everyone changed them with the coming of summer; they were often painted shut. Anyway, sitting on that step, my cousin was eating his sandwich of soft white bread, and peeling off the crusts. And then he was taking those crusts and stuffing them into those little window frame holes under the window.
“What are you doing that for?” I must have asked, because I remember his answer, “I don’t eat crusts!”
“Because they put hair on your chest.”
Oh! I looked down at my own sandwich in a new light.