One of the highlights of our recent trip to Peru was the opportunity we had to spend a couple of days with an indigenous family on an island in Lake Titicaca. The blood lines of these people predates the Incas, both of whom came from the Bolivian side of the lake. These are wonderful, warm, sharing people for whom tourism has provided enough money that they can actually send their children to the nearby city of Puna for post secondary education. The two finest buildings on the island, by the way, are the elementary and secondary schools. The well being of their children is paramount here.
The family that opened their home to us have four generations living in the same house. Grandma does the cooking while Mama prepares the food and everyone dotes on the baby. Grandma must have felt we were too thin because she did her best to fill us with cream of potato soup, potato pancakes, potato with rice, fried potatoes, roast potatoes and sweet potatoes. In case you hadn’t noticed, Peru is the potato capital of the world. They boast over 3800 different strains of potato; and are they ever good at cooking them. The meals were delicious and were washed down with all the cocoa tea we could drink.
Since there were very few clouds on the first night, they took us up the hill, from 13,300ft to 14,150ft to watch the sunset. And it was worth the climb, let me tell you. We walked past the yard full of adobe bricks drying in the sun. They not only build their own homes, they make their own bricks. Next we passed the school yard full of young people playing soccer, then on up to the top. Once there we all “Oohed and aahed” as the sun set. We tourists took pictures while our hosts just sat and enjoyed. Then we all walked down in the growing dark. But really it isn’t the mountain sunsets I want to describe, it is the meals.
All four generations eat together in the tiny kitchen. They managed enough room that we could join them. Throughout supper they laughed and talked about their day while the young parents took turns eating and looking after the baby. Food came directly from the fire to the table so it was always hot; and each course filled the room with wonderful odours. The preparing, the cooking, the talking the sharing and the eating all seem to be part of a family tradition that reaches back into a past beyond record which wraps itself around you like a warm hug.
In City of Kawartha Lakes, we can’t turn back the clock to simpler times, but we can appreciate those who haven’t yet been caught up in the talons of progress. One thing we can do, however, is to take an evening to enjoy those simple things that we do still have that other cities can only dream of having, our own home grown food.
On Saturday, Oct.13 Toward Balance Support Network, City of Kawartha Lakes economic farm fresh development and five fine food restaurants will be hosting A Night of Kawartha Cuisine. Let’s be honest now. We’re out to strut our stuff. How many cities can boast a diversity as rich as ours? With the participating restaurants scattered across the city, one is bound to be near you. They are Riverside Inn in Norland, Eganridge between Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon, The Old Swiss House in Woodville and Joel’s in Lindsay. Joel’s and Academy Theatre have also established a joint dinner/theatre ticket that includes Wingfield’s Inferno. The dinners will feature local produce, Ontario wines and fair trade coffee.
Join us for dinner. We don’t have a mountain sunset for you, but we do have the best food grown anywhere with no polluting transportation attached; we have the opportunity to support our farm neighbours; and we have some of the best chefs in Ontario to prepare the meals. With Thanksgiving over why not take a rest from cooking and let the pros pamper us for an evening. See you next time.