On Monday November 14th, Canada’s best food authors, bloggers, and enthusiasts gathered for the 19th annual Taste Canada Awards in Toronto, On. The energy in the room was electric. You could sense the anticipation building as the nominated were about to find out if their hard work would pay off with a win. Because Taste Canada is the only organization that recognizes Canadian Food Writers, a lot was on the line! It’s an honour to even be nominated, obviously, and so congratulations are in order for all those nominated.
The events of last week were rough, weren’t they? The results of the U.S. presidential election was a shock to many, and the aftermath of protests and the news headlines of victims of racist bigoted violence caught us off guard. It was a disheartening week, to say the least. This evening reminded me of why I’m proud to be Canadian. When all the world is going mad, Canada seems to be withstanding the cultural trend towards exclusionary uniformity. (God, please keep our land!) Even as I write I know we haven’t always been the welcoming pluralistic society we like to think we always were. (i.e. Residential Schools, Japanese-Canadian Internment Camps). And I recognize that we are always so dangerously close to be guilty of being there again. My hope is that we continue to resist fear of the other that empowers racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Again, God please keep our land.
Food connects us. In a world that is as divided as it is, I believe that the best way to overcome the division is by sharing a meal with the other, whoever that other may be. A few years ago I heard someone say, “If you sit down and share a meal with your enemy, you will not think of them the same way once you’re done.” I think they have a point. We know from our own family and friends, that our relationships are strengthened around shared meals. Food has the power to dissolve our fear and hostility and encourage us to see that our shared experiences are more important than our differences. I think of the meals I’ve shared with the foster kids I’ve worked with and know this to be true. When we’ve taken a bite of that giant piece of cheese cake and taste how amazing it is, the walls that divided us melt away, just as the cake does. On a fundamental level we share in the pleasure of how yummy it is and in that moment we are the same. The point I’m trying to make is, the world is going mad but that doesn’t mean we have to. We can share meals with our enemies and with the people we are afraid of. Racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia aren’t overcome by wishing them away, but actively confronting them in our own lives. Let’s eat and laugh our way to a better world, ok? If a 12 year old boy can do it, I know that you and I can do it too.
What I took away from Taste Canada is that Food connects Canada. These authors help connect us to our countries vastness. Every time we cook a recipe from a Canadian cook book or food blog, we are participating in what it means to be Canadian. You are connecting yourself to the regions in which these individuals live regardless if you’re conscious of it or not. We, meal by meal, are becoming a people who are interconnected by the food we eat. And that’s exactly what we experienced during dinner. We were served a tasting menu by various chefs from Toronto. As we tasted their culinary delights we mingled and chatted together, and although we didn’t know each other, and maybe even a little resentful for not winning, we shared a night of laughter, joy and togetherness.
And so it is with honour to present the winners of this years Taste Canada Awards.
For culinary narratives:
Gold: Sir John's Table: The Culinary Life and Times of Canada's First Prime Minister by Lindy Mechefske
Silver: Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village by Jeffrey Alford
For general cookbooks:
Gold: Canadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook by Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Silver: Seven Spoons: My Favourite Recipes for Any and Every Day by Tara O'Brady
For single-subject cookbooks:
Gold: The Ocean Wise Cookbook 2: More Seafood Recipes That Are Good for the Planet by Jane Mundy
Silver: A Field Guide to Canadian Cocktails by Victoria Walsh and Scott McCallum
For regional/cultural cookbooks:
Gold: A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World by Susan Musgrave
Silver: A Spicy Touch: Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji's Kitchen by Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson
For health and special diet cookbooks:
Gold: The UnDiet Cookbook: 130 Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy and Awesome Life by Meghan Telpner
Silver: Scared Wheatless: Delicious Gluten-Free Recipes That Won't Make You Lose Your Mind by Mary Jo Eustace
For food blog:
Gold: In Pursuit of More by Shira Dermott
Les Narrations Culinaires
Gold: Chartier, François. L’essential de Chartier. Les Éditions de Presse, Montréal
Silver: Dô, Sylvie. L’Épicerie: Le plaisir de faire les bons choix. Les Éditions Caractère, Montréal
Livres de Cuisine Générale
Gold: Robitaille, Josée. C’est l’hiver! Les éditions de la Carotte blanche, Montréal
Silver: Coup de Pouce, St-Germain, Claudine. Cuisiner pour une semaine, un mois, un an. Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal
Livres de Cuisine Régionale et Culturelle
Gold: Loureiro, Helena. La cuisine d’Helena: 80 recettes portugaises pour ensoleiller votre table. Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal
Silver: Di Domenico, Maria. Fine cuisine italienne des Abruzzes. Les Éditions Glénat Québec, Montréal
Livres de Cuisine Sujet Unique
Gold: Vézina, Daniel. La cuisine réfléchie: Bien manger sans gaspiller. Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal
Silver: Ricardo. Mon premier livre de recettes. Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal
Santé et Diète Particulière
Gold: Côté, Stéphanie et Philippe Grand. Nutrition Sportive: 21 jours de menus. Modus Vivendi, Montréal
Silver: Michaud, Eliane. Naturellement sucré: 100 desserts à base de sucres naturels. Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur, Laval
Gold: The Green Life, Sophie Bourdon