Raised on a farm in Eastern Canada, I cannot honestly say I fully appreciated my surroundings. I saw food as a means to survival. Getting supper on the table for 5 kids and a famished farmer looked like a tiring ordeal of gathering, cleaning, prepping, cooking, serving, waiting, eating, and more cleaning. Day in, day out. And yet somehow, despite the redundancy, I am left with certain deeply engrained food memories.
Getting off the bus from school and bounding into the garden to yank out a carrot, using the greens to rub off the dirt and chomping down on that perfect, juicy carrot. That’s actually how I remember it: juicy. Even the crunch from some of the dirt that didn’t get wiped off became part of the experience I so loved about pulling something from the earth and chowing down.
Baking bread with my mother and having a little tin all to myself to proudly show off the fruits of my arduous labor.
Watching my big sister cut her perfectly hand-crafted pastry into strips to top off her cherry pie.
My brothers and I pulling out the Joy of Cooking to make, for the hundredth time, butterscotch. Then pouring that butterscotch into a pan to go in the freezer so that we could eat it faster!
Catching my first fish with my dad, which I thought to be a snake but turned out to be an eel and scared the heck out of me. Bringing that eel home to my mother and her looking at us like, “You want me to cook that?” And she did.
Picking fresh berries to blend with chocolate ice cream (hello!), shucking corn, shelling peas, peeling endless vegetables and bringing all our peelings out to the chickens, who would give us eggs, and later meat. I knew where my food came from. There was never any mystery.
I am not describing an idyllic childhood. But I realize, when looking back now, that the purest moments of innocent pleasure can be traced back to food. And isn’t that so often the case?
The true irony is that I only started to love food, and cooking, once I’d moved to a city. Like so many, I craved the opposite of what I had always known, and I found that in Montreal.
I still remember the exact moment I started to get excited, I mean, really excited about food. I was newly married and planning a romantic weekend dinner. I was looking through a copy of Donna Hay magazine (the first food magazine to show me how beautiful food can be) trying to find something simple we could make together. We settled on a roasted rack of lamb with a balsamic glaze and cherry tomatoes on the stem with grilled asparagus. We strolled through Marché Atwater feeling like rock stars while different meat vendors shouted out to us trying to draw us to their stand. Finally settling on the quietest of them, one of the local organic farms, we carried our paper-wrapped rack of lamb and légumes with us to the wine shop to pick out a special bottle from Napa. Back at home we took our time, listening to Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf while preparing our dinner. We ate it on an old trunk I had brought with me from the Maritimes (5 years in that apartment and we never did manage to eat at a table like civilized people.)
It was truly in the course of that simple, perfect day that I knew I wanted to explore food. And I was starting to realize that I could! I wasn’t one of seven anymore, I was one of two. Surely our pennies could purchase new and exciting ingredients, without making us avoid calls from the bank, if not meant to be consumed by a farm-load (literally) of people throughout an entire winter. And while I was at it, did I ever need to lay sights on a deep-freeze ever again, unless I for some reason wanted to?
The way I see it, we need to eat. That much is true. There’s no getting around it; every day we get hungry. So why not derive as much joy as possible from something we will always (in one way or another) be experiencing? It is with complete sincerity that I foreclose to you that I have no accolades worth mentioning, nothing to recommend myself other than passion, culinary trials that have encompassed successes as well as blunders, and an endless hunger. I hope to learn as much as I can about all things edible as I try out my own creations and whatever else catches my
Oh, and my name is Kaleigh Aubry. But my friends call me Kale. Uh huh, like the leafy vegetable. And this is my blog.