Manitoba

This food truck wants you (or your grandma) to come cook your family recipes

Called the Food History Truck, the unique project has a delicious premise: bring your grandmother's recipe (or your grandmother,) make said recipe and talk about the story behind your favourite family dish.

Project hopes to save both the recipes and the stories behind them

The Manitoba Food History Truck will travel the province, gathering recipes and stories. (CBC)

Most food trucks make you a meal and send you on your way, but this one will instead invite you to come on in and stay.

Called the "Food History Truck," the unique project has a delicious premise: bring your grandmother's recipe (or your grandmother,) make said recipe and talk about the story behind your favourite family dish.

Heading the project is Janis Thiessen of the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg. 

"The food is a venue into the person's life story," said Thiessen. "We just think that cooking together is a way to stimulate that conversation … So while you're cooking, we'll be asking not only about the food but other aspects of your life."

The truck will be in three spots this summer in Manitoba, including Steinbach, Winnipeg and the Parkland region. While it's there people are invited to make an appointment and come and cook their favourite family recipe with the volunteers.

The goal? 

"We've got two," said Thiessen. "It's very simple: How has food been produced, and sold and consumed in this province, and how have those processes changed over time?"

A volunteer, like Anna Sigrithur, will be with you as you make your family dish. (CBC)

The truck is fully equipped with a kitchen and some basic supplies. While you're cooking, the volunteers with the Food History Truck will chat with you about the recipe and the backstory behind it.

In that way, bit by bit, Manitoba's food history is preserved and will ultimately be presented to others.

Thiessen stressed that people do not need to be professionals to participate. 

"Sometimes people are a little intimidated. They think 'Oh, I'm not a chef, it's not for me.' But we are not asking for people to have high expertise … we are just looking for everybody."

Invite your grandparent to make their favourite dish. (CBC)

Telling people's stories can also tell the story of a town or city, said Thiessen. That's why the project aims to travel to many rural communities, including Steinbach, which is the group's first stop.

"The city is almost completely different from what I remember 20 years ago," said Thiessen, who used to live in Steinbach. "There's a lot more diversity. And so you have this really interesting story of a town that was classic Mennonite but now is tremendously diverse."

Once stories are gathered, they'll be presented in many ways, she said, including a podcast series, story maps that will be a blend of archival material and interview excerpts, and, of course, a cookbook.

The food truck is fully equipped to make most anything. (CBC)

They also hope to have some of the dishes eventually served in restaurants run by Diversity Foods, one of their partners. If that happens, the group says the food will be served with a card people can scan with their phones to find out more information about the dish.

The group's grant means the truck will be out and about in Manitoba for at least four years, although they hope to continue afterwards.

Have a recipe to share? You can make it in the Food History Truck. (CBC )

The Food History Truck is in Steinbach until July 7. More dates and locations will be announced

"Are there stories in your family, are there recipes in your family that you would like preserved? Bring your grandma, your grandpa on board," said Thiessen.

"Cook it together here with them on the truck. We will all together talk to your grandparent about their life and then they can have that permanent recording archived."

You can hear Janis Thiessen on CBC Manitoba's Information Radio at 8:10 a.m. on Monday.

With files from Marcy Markusa

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