Eastern villages celebrate favourite recipes and the stories behind them
By Kristian Partington
“When there’s food, there’s always pleasure,” said Sandalwood Park’s Jennifer Gould as she glanced around the Town Square in the Village of Humber Heights during the peak of the Festival of Flavours event held there Sept. 13. Residents, team members, volunteers and guests from seven Eastern villages had converged to share food, drink, laughter and friendly competition in this food-themed celebration of the wisdom of the elder.
Across all Schlegel Villages this summer, residents shared and presented their favourite recipes in three categories: appetizers, drinks and desserts. The Humber Heights event brought the best of the best from the east together for all to sample, and alongside each recipe there was a story to wash it down. This, after all, is what the best recipes can do: create memories and form the base of some of the most cherished traditions.
Kazimiera Nowakowski’s Polish Vegetable Salad, for example, inspired memories in many minds of family gatherings past. Perhaps nostalgia, for some, is why they chose to vote for the simple, yet delicious, dish; enough of them did for the recipe to win the best appetizer in the east. Kazimiera lived in Poland into her 50s before coming to Canada and while she worked in many positions, from manual labour to office work, spoiling her family with her skill in the kitchen was where her heart was happiest.
“Since I can remember, this salad was always present, not only on the holiday table but at all sorts of family events,” exaplained Kazimiera in the story of her recipe. “I’m not sure what the phenomenon of this dish is, but it’s easy to make and very tasty.”
Kazimiera was unable to make the trip to Humber Heights, unfortunately, but Kasia Marzec-Liz, a team member from Erin Meadows who knows her well, presented her dish to the crowd. Kasia couldn’t imagine a Polish family gathering without this dish present, she said, adding that Kasimiera swelled with pride to know her dish was representing the village during the Festival of Flavours.
In the dessert room Audrey Morgan said her Peanut Butter Balls are one of those magical desserts that her family couldn’t picture having Christmas without. “As long as I can remember,” is her answer when asked how long she’s been making the chocolate covered rounds. “The recipe has been passed down for generations.”
She remembers making them a week or so before the family gatherings and strategically placing them hidden in the refrigerator to keep them away from the hands and bellies of children. Now her children are grown and each Christmas they go through the same game, hiding the tasty treats from her grandchildren.
Audrey echoes the sentiments of many of her fellow competitors when she says how proud she is to represent her village in the festival. “It’s been fabulous,” she says. “We worked very hard all day yesterday.”
“To me, this is like a big family,” said Taunton Mills resident Tony Sibley as he finished the lunch that was served following the competition, compliments of Humber Heights. In that simple statement he summed up the beauty of the event. The day was an opportunity to meet new people and sample flavours from the lives of others and the stories that go with them. One large family came together for the day, and food and drink was the centrepiece around which they gathered.