On Father’s Day, Fiesta Farms invited all the dads featured in our Apron Strings video series. We gathered at Camera on Queen West–a great space that has a real-live movie theatre. Everyone sat in the darkened theatre and watched our homage to Dads’ cooking.
Here are some photos and a video from that special day. Watch for Joe Virgona in the photos, Fiesta Farms’ owner, rarely captured on film. Click on the photo below to see the whole lot of them.
This wonderful guest post was written by David Kruger. David is an inspired teacher and food activist. Thanks so much David.
With certainty, there is one thing that my dad and I share, other than a last name and blood: a deeply spiritual relationship with food. That said, the relationship we have with food is very different, in large part having to do with our childhoods.
My dad grew up on Baldwin Street, in Kensington Market, in 1930s Toronto, and his parents had a fruit and vegetable store. Many times he has told me anecdotes about a childhood on the street, messing with friends, having fun and being pretty care-free. Even though he grew up in the Great Depression, he never went hungry and he never missed a meal. Plus, he seems to have played on a black church baseball league team, and he made deliveries for his parents’ using a horse and buggy. He can tell you about when Kensington Market was all Jewish, and every family that lived in the neighbourhood. And they all had nicknames!
I grew up in north Willowdale/North York/Toronto in the 1970s, and my parents did a pretty awesome job of providing for all our basic needs. We were fed, clothed and sheltered, and knew we were loved. There weren’t a lot of frills, but life was more than good enough. Plus, we didn’t know any better. Sure, other families went on vacations together, but they didn’t get to explore their own city. I spent a good deal of my time playing on the street, calling “Car!” like in “Wayne’s World”. Playing ball hockey, Nerf football, and at the local parks playing tennis, baseball, football, or whatever seemed like fun that day.
Stories of my ancestors were usually related by my mother or one of her sisters. Stories kept my family connected with my mother’s side of the family who mostly still live back in Greece. My mom would paint stories of how my grandmother was like, how my grandfather was like, how aunts and uncles were like.
I would always ask my mother to tell me another story about my grandfather (her father). Papou (grandfather) Konstantinos (Kosta) was a sturdy man with a bit of a belly, he danced with panache, raised five children and sheltered grandparents and fed other hungry relatives during WWII and Greece’s ensuing civil war.
My mother’s maiden name was Kapetanopoulos (Kapetanopoulou feminine form) and the surname was adapted from a village nickname (paratsouklio) given to a string of strong men that were pillars of the community, leaders, Captains! My Papou Kosta had a general store in the village of Agios Panteleimon in the Prefecture of Florina, near Amynteo – wine growing country.My Papou Kostas with his five children (and daughter-in-law)
My Papou, his father and grandfather would make wine from the local Xinomavro (sour-grape) varietal which is a hard grape to make wine from. The wild nature of the Xinomavro is tamed by few. My Papou would make wine for home use and to sell at the general store. He earn awards for his wine, a talent passed on to him from his father and grandfather.
I am not going to get into winemaking is this post but I must confess my love of good wine, especially Greek wine and the by-products of making wine. In countries like Greece, grapes offer so much life and the spin-offs are endless: grape must used to make a grape molasses (petimezi), sour grape juice (agourida) used as an acid when vinegar or citrus wasn’t available, wine vinegar, grape leaves picked at Spring time and preserved in jars to make Dolmades through the year and today’s easy preserve – pickled wild grape shoots. Continue »
My dad couldn’t cook. He’s a total 50’s dad that left cooking to my mom. However, he made killer ice coffee drinks. This was eons before Starbucks. I still can taste it. I lost my pop when I was 21. I am now much older, but remember the icy goodness of that drink.
I’m the youngest, so it was a long time before I was allowed to help grate the carrots for Grandpa Bob’s famous carrot cake. I remember watching, fascinated, as the carrots turned into lofty grated haystacks.
Grandpa Bob would always let me steal a little piece of pineapple before it went into the batter, and he’d let me clean up the bowl after he made the yummy cream-cheese frosting. The best part, though, was always the first bite. I watched him bake the cake every time, and there was nothing magical about the recipe or the process, nothing to account for its deliciousness.
These days, I hesitate to eat carrot cake, as it’s always a disappointment against the memory of the special ones Grandpa Bob would bake for us when we visited. And sometimes, even though I know that it won’t be the same, I enjoy a slice because it brings me closer to his memory.