Food Hero Stories

JASMINE + HER MOM AND DAD

The power of breaking bread together My Food Hero Is...
my mom and dad, an inspiring pair

My mom taught me the power of fresh ingredients, that love is the single most important thing you will put into your food and my dad taught me to try absolutely everything. Together they taught me that there is nothing that can’t be solved by just coming together around the dinner table to break bread.

I have so many memories of cooking with my parents and sharing food as a family. Food was the focus of most celebrations in our household. Choosing your birthday meals, planning holiday menus or simply trying something new. It was something we always did as a family. Prep was done together and who ever cooked, never had to do the dishes… I have to give some credit to this rule for my love of cooking.

While I was in high school my mom helped her friend run an Italian restaurant where she later became a partner. It was there that I really learned to celebrate the best of simple ingredients, explore my culinary passions and the power of the staff meal. I learned to respect ingredients and appreciate the difference love makes in any dish. A simple tomato bruschetta is made unforgettable by insuring the tomatoes are prepared just before service, never left over from the day before. That butter should always be protected and stored properly so it doesn’t take on the scent of the fridge. That taking time to slowly build sauces and slowly braise meats is always worth the wait and finally that the stress of a busy service or dispute of any kind can be distinguished by sitting down together, as a team to enjoy a meal.

The same could be said for the healing power of our dinner table at home. I was a bit of a wild child growing up (I can hear the laughter of my family members already, as I write this tiny understatement) and while I thankfully grew out of that stage and get to call it a “phase” I am grateful for the lessons I learned, including the power of coming together as a family to break bread. I remember vividly the pain and frustration of teenage angst being relieved almost instantly, as I sat down and starting passing food around the table. Then as we took our first bites, feeling it all wash away like a big cleansing exhale. I also remember how preparing a meal or baking a treat was a powerful tool to mending fences while on lock down for the weekend. I got “grounded” a lot as a teen, the only thing worse than staying home all weekend, was staying home with angry parents, food became my tool for breaking the ice and getting back into their good graces.

They weren’t always big epic meals in my house, simple everyday meals were the norm but they were just as meaningful. My dad and I cooked together a lot. My mom being in hospitality, worked most nights, so most dinners & early morning breakfasts were reserved for us. I cherished this time then, just as I do now. Pork chops with mushroom soup, shepherds pie, turkey pot pie and red river hot cereal with brown sugar and milk in the morning still hold a warm place in my heart, because they remind me of meal times with my daddy. These were simple, easy meals but they were all made with love, so this made them memorable.

When my mom passed in 2002, I was remember thinking that this would all be gone, there would be no more coming together, no more family meals, no more breaking bread. But slowly, over time I started making my own “family meals” for my roommates, my friends, my colleagues, my clients. I started working at places that had staff meals & starting making my own. I started celebrating all the big and all the little things with family and friends that are family.

Through this I learned that the power of breaking bread transcends time, geography, circumstance and tragedy. That this simple, yet incredibly powerful tool can be applied to an epic spread or just the simple sharing of a sandwich. 

I believe that healthy, wholesome food is everyone’s right and that it is our collective responsibility to insure it is easily available to everyone. Food is the glue the connects us to our families, our communities and to ourselves. It is our past and is most definitely our future. 

Community Food Centres Canada is making nourishment available to all, through their work with food and community. This holiday season, as I think back to how beautifully my love of food has enriched and healed my life over the years I will be donating to CFCC so that they can continue to break down the barriers of geography and economy, so that everyone may experience the healing and joy of breaking bread. 


 

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