It’s hardly novel for me to tell you food is that great connector between us humans.
The pleasure, nourishment and comfort it can provide transcends age, class and culture. It also transcends time. When Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald sat down for a meal, I doubt it was a perfunctory act. My money is on him needing the same things we expect today from any dish put before us, especially after he spent a long day on the Hill, or in court or his Kingston law office before his election.
Sir John’s Table by Lindy Mechefske (Goose Lane, $19.95) is the story of the man through food, confirming the father of Confederation was as much a fan of good eating as he was drinking. Thanks to the subjectivity of recounting the past, I often forget historical figures were real people. Good old grade school history class made John A., with his reputation of liking his liquor and being a callous racist, little more than a caricature in my mind, much like others of his time and ilk.
But Sir John’s Table is a reminder that he was a thinking, feeling human being and there are moments in the book that evoke great empathy in the reader. And of course, there are the stories of food sprinkled throughout to draw a deeper connection to the man who, for many, is little more than the knobby face on our ten-spot. —Continue reading—