The Secret Ingredient

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland mines the rich memories of childhood for a compelling topic

Is it just me, or does it seem like every second post on Facebook is a recipe?

Don’t get me wrong, I love every aspect of food, from eating it, to reading cookbooks from front to back as if they were enticing novels.

But when one is fighting the epic Battle of the Bulge, it is an upward struggle, fueled by fantasies of consuming as much of whatever I want, whenever I want it, without gaining a single ounce. Yeah, dream on!

I’ve always loved food; in fact, one of my earliest and fondest childhood memories involves food.

The very first and fondest food memory was that of eating pancakes at my nanny’s home on Sunday mornings. Actually, it was more like mid-morning because we first had to attend church before we went back to nanny’s for pancakes.

Not that it matters, but I lived in Kitimat at the time and I can clearly remember being instructed to sit quietly at her overstuffed couch, then known as a chesterfield, complete with daintily crocheted doilies laying prettily on the armrests.

Do you know how hard it is for a three or four year-old child to sit quietly?

Mind you, we had been advised well in advance, and in fear of our lives, that we five children were not to speak unless we were spoken to first, and we must, no matter what, trot out all the manners we had been taught in our few short years. We knew what disobeying meant for us, and so we sat in our grandparents’ home, eerily quiet and eagerly anticipating those melt-in-your-mouth pancakes of which we dreamed about all week long.

The pancake meal was like most of the prior morning, eaten in silence which was only broken by the sound of hungry children happily shoveling pancakes into their mouths at an alarming rate, and for the occasional, “Please pass the syrup.”

Despite the enforced silence and the rigid rules, I still find that memory somewhat warm and comforting, except that nowadays I much prefer the more delicate crepe than a fluffy pancake.

The second food memory occurred when I must have been about seven-years-old. We had a live-in housekeeper then.

Mom worked outside the home and while they couldn’t afford to hire a housekeeper, they could afford to offer a home and a bit of cash to a downtrodden woman and (usually) her child to help care for us rambunctious five.

I think the housekeeper’s name was Grace. She and her young daughter, Brenda, came to us from the Salvation Army and I remember being in awe of the stern outfit and hat she wore everyday without fail. It was a wonderful time with Grace. She was kind, considerate and loving to all of us.

For the first time ever, since we had a housekeeper and since the school was close to home, I was allowed to come home for lunch.

In my young eyes, the food set before us was a feast. In reality, it was nothing more than tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. But, you see, the magic in that lunch was that it was the first time I could do what many other children could do, and that was go home for a meal to a loving adult who had carefully prepared our lunch.

It makes me realize that most times it doesn’t actually matter what is on your table, whether it be mouthwatering steak or a simply prepared grilled cheese sandwich.

Food is about the secret ingredient, the love that is offered each and every time someone who cares about you sets it before you.

And maybe, that is what my Facebook friends are doing in a roundabout way, merely offering their love through the use of social media.

Just Posted

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Castlegar daycare selected for universal childcare pilot program

MLA Katrine Conroy presents letter of acceptance to the program to the Children’s Centre at Selkirk College

Trail police release image of liquor store robber

The video surveillance image shows the robber aiming a black gun at the store’s clerk

Columbia Avenue paving scheduled for weekend

Paving on Castlegar’s main thoroughfare will take place in a few days, weather permitting.

Kootenay region posts 10-per-cent return rate on electoral reform ballots

As of Nov. 13, only 5.3 per cent of ballots had been returned province-wide

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read