Lanterns versus fireworks


I don’t like the fireworks here in Vancouver. You might think I am a killjoy, but I don’t see how the city benefits from this corporate celebration. Let me explain: each year there is an event in Vancouver (for no particular reason or holiday) called ‘Celebration of Lights’  and huge amounts of money are spent on four nights of pyrotechnics. Masses of people drive in from the burbs to see this showy display of fire put on to sappy music, they spread garbage all over the place, get drunk and fight. A lovely evening out on the town. This is what is called a cultural event in Vancouver.

Last Saturday, I decided to forgo the firework and attend the Trout Lake lantern festival instead. Formerly known as Illuminaries, the lantern festival was canceled this year–a victim of its own success. It started off as a community get-together where children and adults from the Trout Lake area would build lanterns, where amateur musicians came out to play and ladies put on fairy wings and carried wands. What could be more entertaining? Well, everyone agreed it was a lot of fun and so people started to come not only from the nearby neighbourhoods but from all over the city. The event got so big that it no longer had the budget to ensure the safety and organisation of the festival without a corporate sponsor. This year, after the announcement of its cancellation, there were only a handful of renegade lantern lighters but the festival was just as magic as ever. We danced in the moonlight like wild pagans, lanterns bobbing and drums beating.

What I like about the lantern festival is that it is about people, creativity and community (even if that concept ran into problems of scale). What I don’t like about the fireworks is the consumption, waste and anonymity.

Writing about food


At the moment I am finishing a manuscript for a book about the Porta Palazzo market. I think the hardest part of writing about food is feeling hungry all of the time. I can’t stop asking myself what I will cook for my next meal. I have yet to understand how food writers balance their love of food with a healthy lifestyle. Some people think I am a slacker for taking a few hours in the morning to run and swim, but it is absolutely essential for getting through the day.

Canada Stage


I am still catching my breath after my 14 students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy left Vancouver on Saturday. I helped organise and plan their visit to British Columbia. They spent 12 days exploring BC foodways and thinking about important topics such as First Nations’ cuisine; cultural identity and food in Canada; food security and access; sustainable food systems; and the intersections between the unique BC environment, food production and cuisine. We visited all sorts of food producers and culinary professionals from the UBC Farm to Aurora Bistro. We traveled from Vancouver to the Island and over to Salt Spring and met some lovely people who are working hard to change the way eat and think about food in Canada. Thank you to everyone who participated and to all of those who volunteered their time.