It’s a cookbook but more than a cookbook. It is a cookbook with fascinating stories about people from around the world, people who are our neighbours and friends right here in Williams Lake.
Spicing Up the Cariboo, Characters, Cultures and Cuisines of the Cariboo Chilcotin will be launched with a book signing at the Seniors Activity Centre Saturday evening, April 27 from 7 to 9 p.m.
It will be a momentous coming together of people and cultures.
The book started with an idea to promote multiculturalism in the community and raise the level of understanding about the many diverse cultural backgrounds of people living in the region.
Its writers, Margaret-Anne Enders, Marilyn Livingston, and Tom Salley with Bettina Schoen providing inspirational direction are all social support workers with the Williams Lake branch of Canadian Mental Health.
They sent out word in the community a year ago that they wanted to create a cookbook featuring recipes from various cultures, along with personal stories about people and their heritage.
The writers were given the green light by CMHA and a small grant from the Central Cariboo arts and Culture Society (city/CRD cultural program), says Shoen, CMHA’s multiculturalism program manager, who inspired the idea for the book.
Lakecity authors Christian Petersen and Sage Birchwater soon got on board to provide advice and support and before long Caitlin Press had adopted the project, raising the level of the production from a home grown to world class.
Birchwater was charged with the task of helping to edit the stories collected Enders, Livingston, and Salley.
“I must confess that oral history is one of my sweet joys as a writer in this region,” Birchwater says in the forward. “Every one of us has a story, and each of us comes from somewhere unique, and brings the essence of our background and traditions with us.
Nothing better reflects who we are than the food we eat.
“What totally surprised me was the extent of cultural diversity that exists in this region,” Birchwater continues.
In his cursory count, Birchwater says the book contains the stories and recipes of 49 families and individuals who trace their roots to 45 distinct cultural backgrounds that circle the globe.
He says several of the interviewees come from a mix of cultural backgrounds and some families consciously celebrate two or more ethnic traditions.
Salley says the book also has a “slow food” undercurrent, encouraging people to use the freshest locally grown and produced food they can find.
As part of their studies about countries around the world, Enders says a group of families who home school their children together have had their children make the name tags for the people featured in the book. The name tags feature little flags flags from their country of origin or ancestry.
“We’ve all learned a lot about writing, editing and publishing,” Salley says. “The CMHA board and directors were supportive and made it possible for us to do this.”
“Whether people have been here a log time or are newcomers, the people we spoke to just loved being here and wanted to raise their families here,” Livingston says.
The others agree.