Snacks: A Canadian Food History – Janis Thiessen

I received a review copy of this book through University of Manitoba Press.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. The official launch for Snacks will be held tomorrow, October 10th, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.  The book launch begins at 7:00 pm and will be held in the atrium of the Grant Park Store.

Snacks. A part of what makes life worth living. Snacks of course mean different things to different people. For some people snacks mean vegetables dipped in hummus or some other healthy type of dip. If you are such a person you might as well stop reading now.

Snacks: is all about those sweet, salty, deep-fried, flour caked items that bring us pleasure as we sit and binge watch Netflix. The comfort food we turn to when we gather with our families, or grab and sneak off and avoid our families(Hey! It happens). For some people snacks are integral part of their eating day, while for others they are more markers of special events

Snacks for the read

Reading material with snacks to go alongside it.

Snacks: A Canadian Good History  is the the third book by Janis Thiessen, a history professor at the University of Winnipeg, with a specific focus on labour and oral history. Thiessen shares here own memories of snacks, and how the way in which they were part of her life growing up. Snacks is a love letter to many favourite Canadian Snack foods. At the same time it recognizes that like all relationships the story of snacks in Canada is complicated with many low points as well as high points. and things are rarely exactly as they seem to be. Continue reading


Bob Watts Trio – Holy Trinity

You’ll notice if you read my Fall Suppers post, that the Holy Trinity Fall Supper is cancelled. Instead, on October 16th, Holy Trinity is holding a fundraising concert featuring the Bob Watts Trio. There is however, a food connection to this event. Money raised from this concert is going to the Holy Trinity’s Mission Ministry.

Bob Watts Trio tickets

Bob Watts and his trio are bringing a Latin Infused sound to Holy trinity.

The Mission Ministry engages with the broader community in many ways. Most notably by providing lunches to roughly 150 visitors off of the street Monday to Friday of every week. Under the leadership of Father Henry Falconer and the Kitchen Angels, the lunch service offers soup, sandwiches, and usually a pastry. Along with that conversations and smiles are also being served.

Over the last couple of years the circle of people involved has grown. Members of the Downtown Biz Patrol often serve the soup, as do employees from downtown businesses, most notably Scotiabank. It’s a big job and they can always use more help.

Bob Watts Trio

Bob Watts is a drummer who for many years led his trio here in Winnipeg. I’ve known Bob for around 25 years dating back to our days at Church of the Way. I met up with him again when I began attending Holy Trinity. For several years we were both members of Hearts Refuge, the band that leads the singing at Holy Trinity’s 9:45 am service.

The Bob Watts Trio now operates primarily out of Victoria, where he and his family live. However, Bob still has many ties to Winnipeg and returns two or three times in the year. When in Winnipeg he frequently plays at Prairie Ink at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Sometimes he arrives with the trio and sometimes he collaborates with a few of the many musicians he is connected to here. Bob is a versatile drummer. He plays with a sense of enthusiasm and abandonment. He’s always swinging hard behind his kit

CD Launch

The concert will mark the release of his third CD. The first two were Christmas CDs. I know there are a few available, so bring along a little extra cash. As the poster says, the new release is entitled, Kick off Your Shoes.

The piano player for the trip and CD is Cuban born Pablo Cardenas. Mr. Cardenas has been busy making a name for himself on Vancouver Island for several years now. He brings a great deal of verve and elan to his playing. I don’t know who the third member of the trio will be. (A little suspense is a good thing).

Here is a little sample of Pablo Cardenas’s solo piano work.

Refreshments are being served during this concert. A reminder that tickets are $20.00. So, mark the 16th of October on your calendar. Buy your tickets and come out to enjoy a great concert in support of a great cause.

If jazz isn’t particularly your thing, on October 11, 12:10 pm Holy Trinity is also featuring Pipes Alive for Thanksgiving. This features Holy Trinity organist Richard Greig. These are always enjoyable recitals.

Boston Pizza – Taylor Avenue

Boston Pizza is one these places that always leaves me with mixed feelings. It seems to offer so much, but I often come away slightly disappointed. The City Place location is the one I visit the most. So, when I received a gift card the other day, I thought I would try a different site.

Instead of my usual City Place location I went with the Boston Pizza on Taylor just down from Grant Park Mall. I like the area, and it gives me an excuse to scour McNally Robinson’s for any discounted food books. One reason I chose a different location is I frequently experience order errors at the City Place location.

Boston Pizza Supper

When I get the menu I notice they are offering pizza flights. This allows you to choose three mini pizzas out of selection of five. The flight concept seems to be everywhere these days. Beer flights and wine flights are all the rage. The fact that Boston Pizza has taken on the concept suggests that it may have “jumped the shark.” Still, it’s a way to try more than one pizza. I went with the Perogy pizza,  the BBQ Chicken, and the Deluxe. Continue reading

Endearing Pain:Colleen Peters

This post for Endearing Pain is off the general path for Dining With Donald. However, I knew Colleen years ago when I attended Church of the Way, and I think her story is worth a read. Check out her book launch on May 2, more info at the bottom of post.

“Pain is Universal.” That is the first quote on the back cover of  Endearing Pain: Life Lessons from MS Afflictions,” Written by Winnipeg author and former teacher, Colleen Peters. Just over a decade ago Peters discovered she was living with Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS). PRMS is a particularly nasty and unrelenting strain of MS.

Over the last 10-12 years, the basic activities of life, from walking to cooking and many in between have become battles with pain. Slowly but relentlessly, Peters is losing the ability to complete these tasks. Independence continues to give way to dependence, and physical activity to inactivity. All this with excruciating pain which only increases over time. Plus, living with a disease that most people don’t understand, and trying to find a way to explain her life to the people she meets.

Endearing Pain phot.

Endearing Pain: Life Lessons From MS Afflictions

The book is written as a series of letters. The letters started as an attempt to answer the question, “how are you doing.” As Peters explains in the opening chapter, that question is often difficult to answer. The letters that form this book are her attempts to provide answers.

These letters are sporadic in their frequency. This helps the reader to remember the capricious nature of PRMS. It also illustrates that PRMS is not a disease that Peters has control over. At the same time, the content of the letters serves to let the reader know that Peters has not let the disease have control over her.

Reading the book I find myself wondering how any one person can bear such pain. The answer it seems lies in Peters faith. This is not a faith that denies pain. Nor does it see pain as punishment. “Pain is universal,” as has already been stated.

Continue reading

Collingham – Taste of War

I love to buy books, but my budget is limited. As a result, when I visit a bookstore, my first instinct is to head to the discontinued, discounted book section. When it comes to food writing these sections tend to be crammed with diet and celebrity chef cookbooks. Neither of these particularly interest me. Once in a while though, I come across a book like Lizzie Collingham’s The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food. If you’re a Winnipeg reader, you’ll notice from the corner of the bag, that I picked up my copy at the McNally Robinson discount table.

Lizzie Collingham’s “The Taste of War”

The book is laid out in three sections. The first lays out the pre-war food situation in both Germany and Japan. The second takes a look at the food situation on the frontlines of various theatres of war. The third looks primarily at the food situation on the various home fronts of the combatant nations. There is some overlap in the three sections, but primarily as a way of reinforcing the unique character of each section. Continue reading