Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cindy McCain's Favourite Family Recipes......

David Weiner has written an article in the Huffington Post about Cindy McCain's favourite family recipes. It seems that her family recipes are word for word those of various celebrity chefs on the FoodTV Network - it appears that a lawyer searching for a specific recipe came across this "food plagiarism"....... I have a few thoughts.

1. I love that the McCains enjoy Ahi Tuna with Napa Cabbage, Passion Fruit Mousse and Farfalle with Turkey Sausage, Peas and Mushrooms. Do you actually think Cindy McCain eats those things? (look at her - it looks more to me like she and Katie Holmes and Victoria Beckham could all go out and share a small appetizer salad)

2. Is one of your family favourites ahi tuna? served seared and raw inside? I can imagine serving that to my children in the last 10 years maybe, but to my mother - the purveyor of all things Polish? Raw fish? ya kidding me? My children love sashimi and sushi and I know they would like this meal - but isn't a family favourite something from childhood - a comfort food? I'm just guessing but I would say that my children's favourites are things they remember from a young age - pierogies, grilled cheese, homemade chicken soup. My favourites are cabbage rolls (unlike my children I love them), stewed tomatoes, my mother's turkey stuffing. Not seared raw tuna.

3. If I was asked to give my family's favourite recipes, I wouldn't really even have a recipe. My mother (the purveyor of all things Polish) wouldn't have a recipe either. Which brings me to a story.......

A long time ago, two of my mother's sisters came to visit her in Vancouver for the first (and only time). These women were farm wives - they married and stayed on farms in Saskatchewan. They would have never understood seared raw tuna sliced thinly on shredded Napa Cabbage. These were women that took heads and heads of cabbage after harvest time and put them into crocks filled with salt so that the cabbage could be used all winter long. They were women that had learned from their mother (the illiterate Polish immigrant who set up a homestead on the harsh Canadian prairies) about growing food, preserving food and using your food to feed the hardworking men who worked the fields.

So - as a special treat, I asked the three sisters to make pierogies for dinner one night (with the hope that they would make lots so I could freeze them for a special treat later on). They settled down to work to make potato and cheddar cheese, potato and cottage cheese, potato and fried onion and also delicious sauerkraut pierogies (no raw ahi tuna). And for two hours all I heard was bickering by these siblings. Each had their own particular way for making the dough, rolling the dough - "you added too much flour", "that is too much salt", "the dough is too thick (too thin)", "there isn't enough water"..... Each was the master of the pierogy. It would be impossible to ever capture their recipes - they just knew how to make a perfect pierogy (and 300 hundred of them).

So - am I suspicious of Cindy McCain's selections (notwithstanding that they aren't her recipes at all)?


Anonymous said...

Oh if we had had video cameras available we might have been able to capture these culinary delights. My mother used to make the most incredible apple strudel. It was the length of an oven, about 2 feet,the dough was paper thin and we pigs could eat one in about 24 hours. We were not appreciative children. Now, that I search longingly for chicken liver soup like hers- a close second is at the Coffee Mill which also has a passable cabbage roll, I wish that I had had the good sense to capture those flavours. My mother made the most amazing dumplings filled with fruit and potato dumplings. Of course there was no cook book to consult when she passed away. I am a great baker because I was her food processor every Saturday or Sunday when we were growing up. I know what batter should look like and have no fear of adding extra flour or liquid, years of mixing, beating and folding without a machine taught me this but there were no recipes. I still need one for cakes and torts.
Comfort food, I still crave schmaltz everyone once in awhile and those in the know, know that is rendered fat-yum on dark rye or pumpernickle.
Oh Krista, the memories of food. Seared tuna is not it although I do enjoy going out and trying new things.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that in the writing about family recipes,what comes through clearly and poignantly in Nora'S and Krista's comments are the images of their mothers. When we talk about family recipes, we are lucky to reach back one generation to when we were children. It's funny, for us, family recipes mean more what our mothers cooked, not so much what we are cooking. I love the image of our mothers as young again. And I love that (despite all the angst surrounding aging mothers and daughters), your mothers' presence and passion was clearly visible.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm Doesn't bode well for the plan to make spinach pies does it little sister??? Maybe you should make them yourself so there is no fighting?? KLK

Anonymous said...

My mother was an uninspired cook (if she were alive I am sure that she would be the first to admit to this) and so I have always hated those situations in which I have been asked to provide a favourite family recipe. I have therefore, on occasion, succombed to the temptation to just grab someone else's recipe and hold it out as my own, although never in quite such a public way as Cindy McCain did. Perhaps her mother didn't like cooking any more than mine did!