Mamma Yamma: Let's eat together!

Mamma Yamma: Let's eat together!

CBC Live Right Now tracked down the world's hardest-working yam. Mamma Yamma, the popular Kids' CBC host, grocery-café owner, foodie, and the world's only talking tuber, gave us the scoop on her love of cooking, music and why "it's a shame to enjoy cheese alone."'s a shame to enjoy cheese alone.


Mamma Yamma: Kids' CBC YouTube Channel

Mamma Yamma, why is eating together important to you?

Besides the golden time of day when I meticulously dust my Anne Murray figurines, sitting down together to eat is absolutely the most important time of day for me.

Most people don't eat together anymore. The world seems to be going a thousand miles an hour these days. Everyone's eyes are crossed, distracted by cellphones, computers and electronic devices.

Do you find it's getting harder and harder to actually connect and be in the moment with people? I do. That's why eating together is the perfect time to bond. And to be honest, it's a shame to enjoy cheese alone.

Who sits with you at your dinner table?

I'll eat with anyone who wants to chow down with me. My neighbours, the mailman, my hairdresser, Strombo, my accountant Gary, baby ducks ... whoever. I actually try to invite people over for every meal of the day. When I think I might be alone for a meal, I'm quickly on the horn to invite folks over for lasagna (and also to admire my new "I YAM CANADIAN" apron and Five Star kitten calendar collection).

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You're the hardest-working yam in the world. How do you find time to eat with your loved ones?

I have an internal "eat with people now" clock. It kind of sounds like a tiny violin. When I hear plucky sounds, I know it's time to chow down with loved ones.

Eating together is a huge priority to me.

What's difficult for me is finding time for everything else. Seriously, it's all too easy losing time for hours, giggling and eating pancakes with Kathleen Edwards, crank calling Jian [Ghomeshi] and Strombo [George Stroumboulopoulos].

You told Q's Jian Ghomeshi that you live in a yam-free household: the only yam that gets cooking is you. So what do you love to cook?

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a carb queen. By nature I love to cook comfort foods: lasagna, grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, fresh bread and butter. But I can also whip up 14 million brussels sprouts faster than you can say, "Hey, you have something in your teeth."


You've had many Canadian musicians in your kitchen. Do you have a favourite?

I actually get asked this question often. I guess people want to know who inspires me. I've never directly answered this question for anyone. So here goes. My answer is ... PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE!

Having to pick a favourite is just like wearing very tight pantyhose. At the end of the day, it's not so easy to deal with.

Who would be your dream dinner guest?

Joni Mitchell. Kermit the Frog. Anne Murray. A marching band. A bus of Justin Beibers. Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. A dairy farmer. A cardboard cutout of a bunny (I'm allergic).

Your passions are cooking and music. Do you listen to music when you cook? What do you listen to?

When I cook spicy foods, it's upbeat stuff like Harry Belafonte and Stevie Wonder. When I slow cook, it's usually stuff like Aretha Franklin and classical music. And when I snack, I just sing Flight of the bumblebee in full voice. I also listen to the Kids' CBC radio stream. It makes me feel like I'm getting a tan.

What's your favourite food?

Cheese. Always cheese. Also, I cannot resist a pistachio nut.

How do you get kids involved in cooking?

Best way to get kids involved in cooking is to let them improvise. Let them create with you. Allow them to come up with their own ideas of what a recipe should look or taste like. Put the cookbook away and dream up a special recipe together.

Warning: Your kitchen will end up looking like your refrigerator threw up. But it will be fun.

What advice would you give to busy families who say they can't find the time to eat together?

A family who eats together knows each other.

Do you have any nutrition advice or food tips? Do you avoid any particular food?

1) Don't eat while you're upset. It will make your stomach feel all kookoobingbong.

2) Avoid eating late at night. It'll give you wacky dreams -- like, total 'flu-dream-wearing-a-bathing-suit-on-a-roller-coaster-while-knitting' kind of dreams.

3) Eat slowly. (Cheese and popcorn do not count.)

I only avoid one thing: mean people (unless they're holding french fries).

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