Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kindred Spirits

It's no secret that we essentially ate our way around the world. Though we experienced so many things, we remember distinctly the food -- naan breads bought on the streets of Delhi, blisteringly hot and tasting of charcoal; the comforting blandness of all-you-can-eat dal bhat in the mountains of Nepal; Tibetan momos (yak meat dumplings); sticky-sweet coconut sticky rice with cold sliced mango in Thailand. A few days after we got home, I was browsing through one of my favourite stores when I happened upon a recipe book about baking -- an obsession of mine, some might say.

This book caught my eye for a few reasons. As I said, it was about baking. It was full of recipes from all corners of the world -- middle Eastern breads, Montreal bagels, European pastries. It was full of gorgeous photos taken in these places, with little written vignettes that captured the spirit of the moments on the page. It was written by Canadians. I saw a recipe for good old-fashioned Canadian butter tarts and nearly swooned. I slammed the book shut and marched directly to the cash when I saw a recipe for Portuguese egg custard tarts, perhaps BG's most favourite thing in the world.

The book was Home Baking, written by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. They live in Toronto; they speak of a coffee shop in Kensington Market that they frequent; I think I know it. They travel the world and they collect stories and take photos, and they learn about a country and its culture by understanding the food that its people eat. They understand why food is so very important to us; they understand that it's so much more than nourishment. It's joy. It's a celebration. It's delicious.

Jeffrey and Naomi have written several delicious-looking recipe books, and I'm determined to own every single one. It seems that we came home and discovered a set of kindred spirits. I would love nothing more than to meet this amazing couple in that little coffee shop in Kensington and talk about -- well, food.

Right now, those Portuguese egg tarts are cooling on the kitchen counter, and I'm thinking I have to find a good place to hide them, if I want them to last until tomorrow.

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