March Madness Menu

I was sitting in the bunker of CFUV’s fundraising inner sanctum yesterday, trying to keep up with the rapid phone calls and happy visitors that make our yearly Fundrive such a pleasure, when our program director jumped on the air. Johnnie Regalado’s show, Music to Make Dinner By, is always a treat — but yesterday, the sound of “Peaches” by The Stranglers hit me in an off place, causing me to break into a cold sweat. All the food-related songs that interspersed Johnnie’s expert fundraising pitches reminded me that I had yet to sit down and start a new round of blog posts for March.

It’s all about food this month! I was considering pouring some thought into religion. Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists has been a perfect Theology 100 for me, showing off some of the bright sparks in the darkness that is organized religion. But what with the twenty-four hour Pope alert going on the last few weeks, I thought it would be interesting to dedicate some time to something more essential than a lot of cloth and temples. Food is one of the essential elements of a community. What would early Christian meetings have been without bread to break and wine to drink? Feasting is an essential part of bringing people together, wherever you are in the world. I want to celebrate that a little on My Pet Lobster.

At the beginning of March, I attended the Fernwood University lecture on the history of food in Victoria. Dr. Robert Griffin talked about the many twisting trends of gold rush grocers and cannery crazies that have graced the shores of our little island. It struck me as a brilliant way of understanding a community, something I’m sure anthropologists and archaeologists understand perfectly. Victorians have lived in an import-heavy community since the days of the Hudson’s Bay Company and Fort Victoria. The home gardening and local food movements that have cropped up here on the rock reflect a history of self-reliance that I want to touch on a little in the coming weeks. Food is very likely the ultimate reason for young twenty-somethings like myself to develop a level of self-sufficiency.

One precautionary note: I am not a culinary expert. My position in my immediate family is that of the black chef; while my mother, father, and sister all concoct beautiful dishes and deserts, I take my joy from the simple meals of bolognese, rice and beans, and whatever else I can scrounge. I hope some day to look into my larder and realize that I’ve magically bridged the gap between amateur and guru, but for now, I keep things simple. So, the posts to come may seem naive to more initiated cooks — or even veteran Food Network viewers — but I’ll make my humble vision of cuisine enjoyable, if not entirely groundbreaking.

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