I am whizzing my way through Bread & Water by dee Hobsbawn Smith like beaters churning through egg whites. I love it. I wouldn’t put it down at all if life didn’t keep pulling me away from my cozy curl up with it. I want to soak it all up in one great read like bread sopping up every last drop of gravy. But, let me back up and tell you about this book launch event and my remarkable friend and mentor dee Hobsbawn-Smith (and yes, dee is with a small “d” – she’d thank you very much).
Bread & Water is the tenth book from dee Hobsbawn-Smith. Its official release is Saturday, September 11, 2021 but it’s available everywhere now. You can register for the launch event on Zoom here. Catch the time that’s right for your zone in the poster above. I promise it will be thought-provoking and entertaining.
dee is one of my greatest mentors. This fun, energetic wild child of a woman is also one of the most ambitious, disciplined, fire in the belly, get things done bad asses I know. Before I knew her personally, I read her words. So, when I met her, I was at a definite advantage. I already knew I’d like her. I hoped to earn the same status from her.
When you read Bread & Water, you’ll learn about her life as a chef, food journalist, restaurateur, Slow Food advocate and later novelist and poet. The work spans her early life in B.C and Alberta, mid to now life in Saskatchewan and food and travel writing about Canada from coast to coast throughout her life.
Torn between an English degree and cooking school post high school she chose the life of the blade but the love of word-smithing never left this food-smith. A prolific reader, visiting her home office cum study in Calgary was like squeezing in between the aisles of a great old library where two people would have to turn sideways to pass. Wall to wall they were – those books.
Cookbooks were her first forays into writing. Skinny Feasts was my favourite. And I’ll post my most favourite recipe from it next – dee’s lentils. They were a classic that we always served on the Foodie Tootles we ran. And, like favourite things on a menu, they’ll never be removed from my life.
Another indelible mark is dee’s curiousness. She is a top notch food journalist. She not only asks the tough questions, she’s able to make sense of the answers for others. An article on Japanese knives won a Les Dames d’Escoffier International, MFK Fisher award. A piece about the town of Innisfail annexing a nearby organic farm so that it would one day turn into an asphalt parking lot for a school made it to The Globe and Mail. Writing about a modern day oil and gas saboteur made her a trusted friend of the so-called outlaw and shed light on another side of the story. I lapped up every one of dee’s stories.
dee and Me
I met dee when we were co-members of Slow Food Calgary, a local chapter of Slow Food International. I also signed up for Foodie Tootle bus tours she used to organize to take city folk to meet farm folk each summer. After my first as a customer, we ran many events together with me as her unknowing understudy. I volunteered for those long, hot days because I wanted to learn from her so badly. And learn I did.
I learned to be bold. I learned to reach out and connect with farmers. I learned to act as a much needed conduit for those that had lost touch with land and food. I learned to cook for large numbers of people, to seek local and to write about it. I learned my knife skills from dee. I learned to take on serious things and to laugh my ass off as much as possible.
When dee left Calgary, she entrusted me to take over the Foodie Tootles and her much loved kitchen and pantry column called “Get This” in City Palate magazine. I wrote that column for eight years before handing it on to another befitting individual.
When I’ve had the good fortune to publish books, dee has made the trip to be with me for launches when she can. And, she always sings my praises and knows what’s in my heart.
I’ll be there for this virtual launch of Bread & Water on September 19. I haven’t given you any quotes from the book but let me do so now.
Let me tell you what i am. I am a fifth-generation prairie-dwelling canadian. Here is my home. Here is where I live my life, seasoned with food that has travelled a brief distance. From farmgate to plate, the minerals within Canadian soil nourish my plants, then migrate through my blood and bones. When I travel far from home, the magnetized minerals in my body draw me home again, for another homegrown meal at my own table.Bread & Water – Essays by dee Hobsbawn-Smith
Can you hear the peace my friend has found? This woman on fire has finally burned down to glowing embers. And everyone knows, that’s when the magic happens.
I hope you will join the launch, buy dee’s book, read it or do all three.
Note: The cover photo was provided by the author’s publicist. The gallery are photos I took. This post was not sponsored. This is what good friends do for each other. Warm each other by the fire of life and savour it all.