CBC’s Virtual Travel Series Land of living stories explore Saskatchewan’s hidden gems.
Food has always had the ability to connect people and evoke feelings of longing. No matter what culture or where in the world you come from, everyone has a dish that brings back fond memories.
We have entered the time of the year when food plays an even bigger role than usual, as families come together for the holidays. That can only mean one thing: stories!
As a CBC Land of Living Stories reporter, I spent over a year meeting new people and hearing stories about why they love their community and family stories.
Cooking is extremely important to me – not just because I find it creative and fun, but also because it connects me to my heritage.
I thank my Nonna for instilling in me the love of cooking and food. Nonna was an Italian immigrant and a phenomenal cook. Cooking was his domain and everything in the family revolved around his meals.
Nonna could be particular about who she let into the kitchen, but I was able to spend some quality time with her during the hours she spent preparing amazing dishes like her special tomato sauce, spinach linguine and his calf. Everything from scratch, of course.
Those long afternoons made me see cooking not only as a necessity for life, but as an art form. My Nonna passed away just before I graduated from high school. It motivated me, as I moved and lived alone for the first time, to try and replicate Nonna’s delicious Italian food in my own little house.
With these special memories in mind, this land of living stories will visit four different Saskatchewan residents who each have a story about how food and family come together.
9:31Land of Living Stories explores family culinary traditions
Honey Constant currently lives in Saskatoon and studies at the University of Saskatchewan, but her community and family are never far from her spirit.
Constant is a Plains Cree of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation (pakitahwâkan-sâkahikanihk). Her grandparents there always had fresh vegetables from the garden, including her favorite, potatoes.
Constant’s most beloved family food is what they call the Native Salad.
“I think the reason I liked it so much was because I knew exactly what was in it. When I was little I was a little picky. mashed potatoes with boiled carrots that are also mashed with, topped with green onions… it’s not really a salad, ”Constant said.
When Constant thinks of her grandparents’ cooking on the days the whole family ate a Native salad, she remembers a permanent warm golden glow. She also remembers trying to help prepare the dish.
“My Kookum and Mushum, they often gave me really easy chores… I was like six, seven… sometimes they gave us mash stains. And my tiny little arms couldn’t really do that. So they were like, ‘Good work.’ And then they passed it on to someone else! “
Constant said that when she thinks about her family and her education, food is a “huge pillar” that has helped create her identity.
The last time Constant’s family went to pick rat roots, a traditional indigenous medicine, they quickly boiled and created a native salad to take with them.
“So, while they were picking, they were also eating the salad. It’s in the circle. There is no top, no bottom, no beginning, no end. Everywhere we see and what we do and what we collect, we go out, connect and there will be food somehow. “
Constant said the more she talks about how her family cooks and shares food, the more she recognizes the beauty of these traditions.
“It’s hard to really sum up my connection to food, especially how it has built who I am and how I appreciate our family or kinship. It’s a little piece of every part of me.”
Theresa Lautsch of Swift Current remembers having what she calls “bees making perogies” with her grandparents, who were of Ukrainian descent.
Her grandparents would choose the coldest days of the year, and the whole family would help stuff and pinch the dumplings, then put them outside in weather as cold as -38 ° C to instantly freeze. Doing it this way meant the perogies wouldn’t stick together in the bag when the family kept them.
“I remember running between the living room and the hallway, hanging out a bit, seeing what the old people are doing, sneaking up and taking the dough from the table, then hiding it and eating it… what we weren’t allowed to do! ” Lautsch said.
She said the bee making perogies was a particularly heartwarming tradition as the whole family would participate for an entire day. Years later, her mother found what she called “vintage perogies”.
“We would dig in the freezer looking for things, and we would find some from 2001, and it’s like 2018. And they were always good!”
Lautsch said it was essential to serve dill with perogies. Finding fresh dill is no problem for her, as her grandparents’ old house has a little dill problem.
Lautsch now lives in the house her grandparents built in 1960. As far as she can remember, there has been dill at the front entrance.
“I’ve tried planting a lot of things to get rid of dill, but it comes back every year and takes over,” Lautsch said.
“I tried the pumpkins. The dill passed. I just tried the marigolds… it always worked. This year I made sunflowers and it always worked. I think I don’t have it anymore. the choice.”
When Steven Wilson from Weyburn was growing up, his grandparents made dishes called spodsa and kudobarenik. Steven describes the spodsa as an upside-down perogie and the kudobarenik as a fried perogie-type bread.
His ancestors were of Irish and German descent and spent time in Russia. His grandparents called these two foods “depression dishes” their parents cooked for them in the 1930s because the simple ingredients were readily available.
“People who grew up on this kind of depressive food… it was a food of necessity. But as I got older, it became a comfort food and even a food that everyone would enjoy as a family,” Wilson said.
Spodsa and kudobarenik are a bit of a mystery. Wilson said no one outside of his family knew the dishes or the names.
“People have told me once or twice that spodsa is a word for potato in a German dialect. But even then, I couldn’t confirm it. So I don’t know exactly where these names are coming from, ”Wilson said.
“No one I have met has ever heard of it. I tried googling different spelling variations… I’m empty.”
Today Wilson is making spodsa for his children, who will cancel any other plans if they know the dish on the menu.
“Every time I smell caramelized onions it reminds me of spodsa and it reminds me of my family.”
Regina resident Raquel Vigueras owns the small hot sauce business Pueblo Chili Co. Her parents and Chilean roots are a big part of her passion for cooking. Indeed, today, her mother helps her in the kitchen while she creates her many hot sauce recipes.
“She’s right next to me, she’s testing everything. She lets me create the recipes, but she always gives her advice and everything. And she’s there to cut veg, peel everything with me,” said Vigueras.
“It’s just a really good way for us to connect because I haven’t been living at home for over 14 years now. But I make sure I spend a lot of time with my parents.”
Vigueras ‘father was a Chilean refugee who arrived in Canada in the late 1970s. He met Vigueras’ mother from the small village of Climax in southwest Saskatchewan a year later. In less than nine months, the two tied the knot.
“My mother really embraced the Chilean culture and my father’s culture and learned to cook all the dishes that she had been missing since coming home,” said Vigueras.
“It took a little while to learn all of the recipes, but she’s got it on her feet and she makes the most delicious recipes you can imagine.”
Vigueras’ favorite family food is empanadas – specifically Chilean Empanadas de Pino.
“It’s the Chilean version of a meat pie. And so it’s something we have for any special occasion.”
Vigueras says making empanadas is a special thing for the whole family.
“The process of making the empanadas is my favorite part because you have to commit to making them over a weekend, as it’s a two day process. So on day one you make the filling and the whole house. smells like that delicious mix of beef and onion, “she said.” It’s just the best smell. “
Vigueras said the long process made him appreciate the cooking process.
“It was so nice to spend all this time doing something and then the whole family and the guests sit down and enjoy the fruits of the labor together.”
Vigueras said the tradition shows no signs of fading away.