Amid the many food heroes in my life, I’ve chosen to honour my father this holiday season. Unlike the grandmothers who used food to pull their families in closer to home, my father, Carmel David, uses food to push the boundaries.
Throughout my childhood my father always planted tomatoes and cucumbers and beans — things that grew well in our cold climate. But as a child, he had peaches, lemon, and plum trees growing outside of his home. So, eternally ready to try for the sake of trying, he planted fruit trees...in Montreal. The five gleaming plums that he rescued from the frost, the circling birds, and some unnameable tree fungus, were golden to him.
Wherever we went my father was always looking up in the branches of trees for edible foods. In Florida, he would take my brother and I to the coconut palms and we would spend hours trying to shake down coconuts and crack open the ones on the ground. When we went to visit Israel, we would drive out to the edge of the city where the cactuses grew and put thick gloves on our hands so we could pick the thorny sweet fruit. The last time I was in Montreal with my kids, he turned off onto a side street and pulled the car over under a giant mulberry tree whose branches spilled onto the street, so we could have a snack.
Long before kombucha was being served on tap at fancy bars, my father was brewing what I thought of then as his vile mixture, in our laundry room. He liked to throw together all the healthy seeds and grains he could find and bake what we affectionately referred to as 'The Brick'. My father was reckless and endlessly curious about what could be grown and eaten. He taught me that food could be subversive, adventurous, and fun. That it was ok to try and fail. That beyond the sterile and rigid confines of our suburban grocery store there lived a world of food that was wild and unruly and had no price tag.
That’s why this holiday season I’m giving a donation to CFCC to support the work being done in the gardens and kitchens of CFCs where people have a space to experiment and discover and share the creativity and joy that can come with food.
Linor David is Program Manager at Community Food Centres Canada.
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