The Seniors Activity Centre was the perfect venue for spicing up the Cariboo on Saturday, April 27, with a multicultural potluck and the launching of a brand new ethnic recipe book.
A capacity crowd of mixed ages and cultural backgrounds came together to share the food of their various homelands, and to purchase copies of Spicing Up the Cariboo that many of them had a hand in creating.
Spicing Up the Cariboo: Characters, Cultures & Cuisines of the Cariboo Chilcotin is more than just a cookbook.
Each of the 49 people who contributed recipes also shared stories of their lives and cultural origins and how they came to choose the Cariboo Chilcotin as their home.
All three of the region’s First Nation tribal groups are represented in the book with recipes and stories of the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in and Dakelh (Southern Carrier). Susan Hance (Dakelh), George Keener (Secwepemc/Tsilhqot’in), Meline Myers (Tsilhqot’in) and Andrea Thomas (Secwepemc) shared recipes of foods indigenous to this region.
Soopallalie ice-cream, Saskatoon pudding, half-dried meat on a stick, moose tripe, bannock and cedar plank salmon. For the potluck Meline brought a delicious juice made from chokecherries, Saskatoon berries and Labrador tea.
Other food prepared from the traditions around the world, was also enticing. Busilak “Bea” Dodd brought a Filipino pork adobo dish for people to enjoy.
Kusum Wijesekera, brought a delectable potato dish from her native Sri Lanka. Manola Khounviseth shared food from her Laotian tradition.
Anne Burrill represented the Korean tradition of her children Amelia and Finn, with a delicious Korean fruit salad.
Ollie Martens wowed the eaters with her Ukrainian borscht.
Cathie Allen, who painted the still life portrait of vegetables for the book cover, and shared Italian recipes from her mother-in-law in the book, very likely brought a delicious green salad.
I’m not sure and kind of lost track, but Cathie and her husband, Rob Borsato, own one of the best market gardens in the Cariboo
At the conclusion of the potluck celebrated by the contributors to the book, the doors were thrown open for the general public.
Authors, Tom Salley, Margaret-Anne Enders and Marilyn Livingston shared their experiences compiling the stories and recipes, and each read a favourite anecdote from the book. Many of the 49 contributors to the book met each other for the first time. The cultural diversity was impressive. One table had people of Ukrainian, Indian, Pakistani, Russian, Laotian, Slovakian and French Canadian backgrounds.
Another table had a cultural mix of Jamaican, British and Danish.
While book contributor, Sharon Rathor, couldn’t make the celebration because she was busy cooking for the Vaisakhi Day feast, her husband, long-time city councillor, Surinderpal Rathor, attended on her behalf. He and regional director Deb Bischoff took the opportunity to pose for a photograph together.
A real highlight of the book launch was the contribution made by a handful of home-schooled kids, Lucas and Jamie Kranabetter, Timu and Ella Kruus, Sam Buhler, Wilson and Ascher Wedel, and Amelia Burrill. They created personal name tags for each of the participants in the cook book by drawing the flags of the various nations they stemmed from.
This was a home school project, explained Margaret-Anne Enders. “The kids had to research the flags and then draw them. They virtually travelled around the world. Each family took turns hosting the kids and taking them on a trip to a different country.”
Bettina Schoen, manager of the multiculturalism program for the Cariboo Chilcotin branch of Canadian Mental Health Association, was master of ceremonies for the book launch. She says the intent of the project was to embrace the cultural diversity of the community. She commended the local CMHA board for supporting such an unusual project.
“This was a unique project bringing together a large diverse group of people in a simple way, through food and personal stories.”
To put a final touch on the evening, Tom Salley was joined on stage by his musical colleagues Ann Smith and Troy Forcier, who call themselves, Big Twang Daddy, and they entertained with some lively acoustic music.
Spicing Up the Cariboo was published by Caitlin Press and is available at retail bookstores in the community or at the CMHA office. The book is being used as a fundraiser for future CMHA multicultural projects