Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Armchair Detectives Circle the Globe

I seem to have been on a binge of reading mysteries that take place in foreign countries. If you enjoy mysteries and travel adventures, you may enjoy the following books.

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions 
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano is a Felliniesque account of Auntie Poldi’s adventures when she retires to Sicily to drink herself to death. Auntie Poldi is larger than life (morning salutations in the nude on her roof-top patio, vodka for breakfast, photograph albums of traffic police – ah! men in uniform!) and so are her relatives and neighbours – the sad lady who owns the gelateria, the handsome police detective banished to Sicily for his misdeeds in Milan, the impoverished nobleman who quotes German poetry non-stop, and the businessman who may well be a member of the Mafia. I’ll be reading more of Giordano’s books.

Death in Sunset Grove 
If I’m even half as feisty when I’m 80 as these three old ladies in a Finnish retirement home, I’ll be very, very happy. The plot is absurd (evil retirement home managers, motorbike gangs, tram rides and funerals), but the characters in Death in Sunset Grove by Minna Lindgren will have you marching out the door ready to tackle the neighbourhood bullies.

Dogstar Rising 
Dogstar Rising by Parker Bilal brings modern-day Cairo to life – the poverty, the corruption, the miserable housing conditions. It’s also a tale of immigrants and the choices they make to survive in a foreign land. I’m not sure I’ll continue reading this series, but I did enjoy the insight it gave me into life in Cairo.

Murder on Brittany Shores 
Murder on Brittany Shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec is a police procedural with a solid plot line. The detective is an outsider (from Paris) so you get an outsider’s perspective on Brittany from a German author who spends half the year in Brittany. The sea and Breton pride are front and centre. I plan to read more in this series.

A Very Pukka Murder 
A Very Pukka Murder by Arjun Raj Gaind is set in India in 1909. The hero, Sikander, Prince of Rajpore, with his attention to fashion, good wine, and manners reminds me of Lord Peter Wimsey, but his frustration with British colonials in India turns that model on its head. The plot is convoluted with many possible suspects who Sikander gathers around his dining room table at the close of the book when all is revealed. Well worth reading. I’ll be looking for more in this series.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 18, 2018

Hearth Restaurant 
Hearth Restaurant is now open on Melrose Avenue just off Ruth Street. I interviewed the owners, Beth Rogers and Thayne Robstad, a few years ago.

Rosco’s Roti, June 23 
Rosco’s Roti is bringing Caribbean roti to the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on June 23.

Haskap Days, July 5 & 6 
The University of Saskatchewan Fruit Program is offering a haskap school on July 5 and a field tour on July 6 for farmers and advanced gardeners.

Eating Dinner with Canada’s Migrant Workers
An interesting article about the daily lives of Canada’s migrant farm workers: “In 2017, about 43 percent of Canada’s 112,000 paid farmland workers were migrants. For the people we import to work our fields, food not only provides a livelihood but is also essential for maintaining their mental health, for surviving in isolation from their homes and families.”

On the Bookshelf 
I’ve just finished reading Godforsaken Wines: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine by Jason Wilson. It’s an interesting mix of travelogue, encounters with small-scale winery owners, and tastings of wines I’d never heard of before. It’s worth reading if you’re intrigued by the history and culture of European wine-growing.

I’m planning to read The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young after reading a review, which states, “Rosamund reveals that cows have visual memories which they can associate with unpleasant experiences, and are acutely sensitive to vibrations, sounds, sights and smells. The book includes a list of 20 things you should know about cows, including that they babysit for each other, invent games, take umbrage, nurse grudges and can love music.”

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 11, 2018

Market News: BC Cherries & Goat Cheese 
Little Quail Ridge Orchards will be back at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market on June 16 with cherries!! I’m also looking forward to trying the goat cheese from Hal Jadeske.

Edible & Medicinal Plants in your Garden, June 27
LichenNature will be offering a workshop on edible and medicinal plants in your garden from 6-8 pm, June 27, at the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre's Garden Patch.

Mission Hill Going Organic
Mission Hill Winery is transitioning all its vineyards, a tenth of the Okanagan’s grape-producing land, to organic. The viticulture manager recognizes that this will take a shift in philosophy: “You can farm organically with a conventional mindset,” he says. “You can spray just as much using organic chemicals, but the way we are looking at it is not just about farming conventionally using organic products, it is about getting the land working healthily for us.” 

Bridging the Summer Gap for Hungry Kids
Summer can be hard for kids who rely on school food programs. 198 libraries in California will be offering a Lunch at the Library program this year to help bridge the summer gap. Other states are following their lead.

Eat More Weeds 
Dandelions, for instance, are a rich source of potassium and a good source of other minerals and vitamins, including iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, B and C. Your average lettuce leaf can’t compete with that.”

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Monday, June 4, 2018

Flavourful Saskatoon, June 4, 2018

Wine Tasting, June 6 
Ingredients Artisan Market is hosting an impromptu (and free) wine tasting from 3-6 pm, June 6.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty, June 7 
Join Dr. Priscilla Settee and Ms. Jenni Schrenk for a shared meal and a talk on traditional Indigenous food systems at 7 pm, June 7. The meal includes fish.

Snowy Village Saskatoon 
Michelle Zimmer of Wild Serendipity Foods says the bingsoo at Snowy Village Saskatoon are delicious. Bingsoo (bingsu) is a Korean Shaved Ice that is loaded with sweetened condensed milk, fruit, chocolate, and other goodies.

Tea Time Party Service 
Michelle also told me about Tea Time Party Service. From china tea cups to fair trade tea, dainty sandwiches, scones and cakes, Shenuka, the owner, brings everything to your home. All you have to do is invite your friends, sit back, and relax. Shenuka’s family immigrated from Sri Lanka where tea and tea production are an important part of culture and industry. By sharing her love of tea, she stays connected to her homeland.

Native Vegetables & Community Unity in Tanzania 
I was born in Tanzania so this article about a woman who has worked hard to promote indigenous vegetables was of particular interest to me. I remember eating squash leaves when I visited Tanzania 15 years ago, and I’ve always wondered if we could be doing the same – the answer appears to be yes.

Old-Timer Vegetarian Rant 
I’ve been vegetarian for 35 years. Being vegetarian was less common in those days and there were fewer vegetarian restaurants or ready-made meals. But that wasn’t a problem! I was living in Ottawa where there was a wealth of international restaurants, which offered all sorts of vegetarian options. I bought cookbooks that introduced me to different ways of preparing food – zucchini sandwiches, West African peanut stew . . . the list goes on and on. Suddenly vegetables were the central feature of my meals and I loved it.

I’m thrilled to see more people becoming vegetarian or vegan, but I’m also concerned by an emphasis on eating meat substitutes. Veggie burgers are great, but I don’t want one that bleeds – it doesn’t even have to taste or chew like meat – it just has to be flavourful and nutritious. I worry that coconut yogurt contains next to no protein – it may taste like a vegan substitute for yogurt, but they don’t offer the same nutritional value.

I've eaten at two vegan restaurants recently. In both cases, I really enjoyed the meal, but I won't be returning any time soon. I had a flavourful pad thai at Seasoned Fusion Tastes, but apart from a few bean sprouts, it contained absolutely no vegetables. Instead, the focus was on meat substitutes, which are highly processed from unknown ingredients. Where are the authentic plant-based protein options, such as tofu, tempeh, beans, and nuts? Gud Eats offers fun fast food, great for an occasional treat but certainly not on a regular basis. My go-to vegetarian restaurant will remain Nosh Eatery & Tap, which offers far healthier options.

It’s a brave step to become vegetarian or vegan, but it’s time to be bold! Grab some Saskatchewan-grown lentils, throw some beans in a pot with lots and lots of locally-grown vegetables and explore all the different international spice options.

Photos: Dishes served at Nosh Eatery & Tap

Flavourful Saskatoon is a weekly Monday feature. I also post articles about food that is good, clean and fair; travel; and books. You may also enjoy EcoFriendly Sask profiling Saskatchewan environmental initiatives and events. 

You can follow Wanderlust and Words on Facebook, Twitter, or by email (top right corner).