Celebrating Diversity Through Food

Whether it’s street snacks at the Whistler Multicultural Festival, or learning how to cook dishes from another country with other locals, food is a great way to get to know and learn about others in our community.

All the recipes here were chosen, prepared and shared by volunteer immigrant cooks at community kitchens and/or the Multicultural Festival. We’ve included the stories that our cooks shared during these events as it is these individual memories of traditions and eating that really bring our cultures together. We are honoured to be able to share these fascinating looks into how food shapes our lives and families.

Canada: Zucchini salsaBy Anni KolbeI am from Orillia, Ontario, Canada. I love to bake! My specialty is cheesecakes. I didn’t really cook when I was a child but my Oma and Opa owned a restaurant. I remember spending a lot of time watching my grandparents in the kitchen preparing meals. I also remember my mom would always bake German horseshoe shaped cookies at Christmas. They were shaped as a horseshoe and sprinkled with icing sugar. They were only made once a year which made it extra special. As a parent I now make these cookies once a year at Christmas for my children. Another thing I do as a parent is to make sure our family eats dinner together every night. I think it’s really important to spend that time together because everyone is so busy with school and work. It’s a time to reflect on your day and spend time with one another. I chose to teach people how to make zucchini salsa because zucchini was in abundance when we ran the community kitchen in August, and everyone loves salsa. You can eat it with tacos, nachos and even put it on your eggs. My family eats a lot of salsa. We eat it at least once a week with dinner. I also bring salsa to potluck dinners or gatherings with friends. Preserving foods is very popular in Canada. Our summers are very short, so for us to have fresh food year-round the best way is to can your foods. Popular items to can in Canada are salmon, tomatoes, beets, pickles, apple sauce, etc. Preserving food is something I started doing as a young adult. Raspberry jam was the first thing I ever canned. After a few years I started expanding my canning recipes and now I can apple sauce, pear sauce, tomato salsa, zucchini salsa, jam and chutney.
Chile: Sopaipillas con pebreBy Karine EspinozaI’m originally from Valparaiso in Chile and have been in Canada for 3 years now. When I was asked to cook some food for the Multicultural Festival last year, sopaipillas was the obvious choice, plus I’m a vegetarian and there’s no meat in this dish – unlike most Chilean food which has lots of meat. Sopaipillas are a really popular street food in Chile plus they’re easy to eat finger food, easy to make, and really cheap – you can buy one for about 20 cents. They’re usually cooked and eaten hot with any sauce or topping you want; ketchup, mustard, pebre sauce, or chili sauce… Sopaipillas are so popular in Chile there’s even a song about them called ‘Sopaipilla con mostaza’ (sopaipilla with mustard)… At home, though, we usually eat sopaipillas with a sweet topping called chancaca - a warm, sweet sauce made of raw unrefined sugar from sugarcane and often flavored with orange peel and cinnamon. In Chile, it’s like a tradition that when it rains mums make sopaipillas. So every time it rained while we were at school, everyone knew there would be sopaipillas and chancaca sauce waiting for us at home.
China: Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings)By Yuan Yuan RenChina has a lot of festivals and holidays. Some of the most important festivals are Chinese New Year, Full Moon Festival and Dragon Boat Festival. For the Full Moon Festival we cook a special Moon Cake and for Dragon Boat it is sticky Chinese rice pudding. During Chinese New Year, dumplings are one of the major foods eaten. We write, carve and make paper cuts of Fú [see character right – can we put this in] meaning "fortune" or "good luck". Fú is a common Chinese tradition at New Year and can be seen on the entrances of many Chinese homes worldwide. We also buy firecrackers and have fireworks. During this special day we make special garlic vinegar (Laba vinegar) and eat it with dumplings. This celebration is really family time; people visit each other and give each other red envelopes with some money and also some gifts. I chose this recipe because it is traditional food in China and everyone knows how to make these dumplings. We call these dumplings "Jiāozi". You can use almost anything as a filling, and you can boil, steam, or pan fry them. On New Year’s Eve we make dumplings in the evening before midnight and then keep them outside to freeze them before we cook them. At midnight, we have fireworks and after that we go inside and everybody eats dumplings.
Czech Republic: Linzer cookiesBy Barbora VanickovaSince I was able to hold a spatula I have helped my mum cooking - before that, I was really good in reorganizing the drawers in the kitchen - especially taking everything out. Now, as an adult, I enjoy most cooking, but my favourite is to cook big meals for a big group of friends or family (cooking for two all the time is not that much fun!). My family back home has many traditions with specific meals connected to different holidays, most of which are connected to the church. My family is very old school in preparing traditional meals; the idea of cooking something else on a festive day is practically impossible. My favourite time is when we bake Christmas cookies and listen to Christmas songs on cassette. It’s very peaceful to do; it takes lots of time, the cookies are very fragile and you can’t rush the baking. You just have to take your time and enjoy spending the time together. Linzer cookies are not just delicious, but also very pretty and fun to make and share with people, which, for me, the multicultural community kitchens are all about. These cookies are super popular around the Christmas tree with the family, and everyone has a different opinion about how to make them right - different jam, different shapes, everyone thinks their cookies are the best… We make Linzer cookies every Christmas and my mum even makes special jam in summer to be ready for Christmas time.
Ireland: Soda breadBy Andrea DunneI come from a small town outside Dublin city in Ireland. I moved to Whistler in 2010. I never thought I would bake bread until I started working abroad in my twenties. I was living in France and although I loved baguettes and croissants, I really missed a decent slice of soda bread with butter, it made me think of home a lot. I used to watch my Mam bake this bread at home, her expert technique made it look more complicated than it is. Soda bread is a simple every-day bread, using ingredients you will find in your fridge and cupboard. All you need is flour, baking soda and buttermilk. It doesn’t need a lot of kneading, which suits me fine as I’m still not sure if I know how to do it the right way! Even though this is a simple bread, my family enjoys it on special occasions. We usually start our Christmas dinner with soda bread, fresh butter and smoked salmon, it’s delicious. In our house, there is always soda bread in the bread bin, it never lasts long. As a child, I remember watching in fascination as my Mam made bread in a matter of minutes, her hands were so quick bringing the ingredients together and it didn’t seem to take her a long time before the dough was ready to bake. I was her helper as she baked. My job was usually weighing the ingredients on the scales and handing them to her as she needed them. We always had freshly baked treats as kids. Now I live in Canada, I bake soda bread regularly, to show new friends a little taste of Ireland.
Japan: GyozaBy Chizuko HigashiI have been in Canada over 20 years and have 2 daughters. I try to give them a well-balanced diet, as well as keeping the Japanese tradition of all the family eating breakfast and dinner together. Another tradition I try to keep is to make a bowl of soup, a main dish, one side dish (salad) and a bowl of rice for every dinner. Here in Canada ingredients are different, so I enjoy trying new kinds of vegetables - kale gomaae (kale with sesame dressing) instead of spinach, and so on. I chose this pan fried Gyoza recipe because it’s well known as a Japanese food, (although originally it came from China). It is often served with ramen noodle soup. Instead of the traditional pork, gyoza can be filled with a variety of vegetarian ingredients (for example, chickpeas or tofu). They can be also filled with shrimps, or other seafood, or vegetables. They can be steamed, or pan fried, or deep fried. We can also cook soup with Gyoza. Gyoza is a very common dish in Japan, eaten usually for dinner at home. Sometimes I make unusual fillings for gyoza for my kids, when I fill them with chocolate, banana or cheese. Kids love that. And making gyoza together as a family or with your friends is great fun.
Mexico: Conchas de dulceBy Azusena RojasThough I originally come from Mexico, now I live in Canada in the beautiful village of Whistler. In a traditional Mexican family, the most important part of the day is breakfast when everybody is around the table before they go to school or work. I have chosen this recipe because in Mexico it is the most traditional kind of bread. Conchas (sweet bread) is enjoyed in the evening for dinner, but mostly everybody eats it for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate, coffee or tea. I remember when I was a child my mum used to buy that bread every morning. The first time I started to cook was when I met my husband. He was my inspiration. I found out that he loves sweets so I started learning. My favourite part of cooking is baking. I like changing recipes and making experiments. During Christmas time I love baking for my family and friends, especially baking my husband’s favourite fruit cake. When I came to Canada I couldn’t find any sweet bread from Mexico which I used to eat every day when I lived there. In Mexico we usually buy this bread, because it is easy to get and it is everywhere. But because I couldn’t find it at any store - and I really love that bread - I started searching for some different recipes, baked some of them and tried to find the best one.
Slovakia: KapustnicaBy Barbora PiatkovaI grew up in a family where there was always homemade meals on the table and some yummy cake on Sundays and holidays. As a child, I spent lots of time in the kitchen helping my mom and my grand parents. They taught me how to cook, bake, preserve and eat. Now I have my own family, and I cook for them every day. We eat together at least twice a day as it's important for us to have family around the table. My son is nine months old and he's being introduced to all new tastes and textures. I prepare my own baby food for him and he loves it. Christmas is a magical time for me and we keep traditions alive even after six years being in Canada. I usually bake about 10 different kinds of cakes or cookies and prepare a traditional Christmas meal. I am proud to share our traditional Christmas soup with you. It depends on the region how you prepare it, but the main ingredients are sauerkraut, pork, sausages and mushrooms. Some people add plums, apples or ham. It's called Kapustnica and it's served as a first course on Christmas Eve. Then we have schnitzel and deep-fried fish with potato salad followed by Christmas cookies. After that, it is time to run to the Christmas tree to open our presents.
Japan: TakoyakiBy Fumie KudoI’ve been in Canada on and off for more than 15 years now, but am originally from Sapporo, Hokkaido. When we starting talking about what multicultural food we could cook for the Whistler Multicultural Festival, takoyaki was my first idea. Takoyaki is like a round pancake ball that you can fill with whatever you like. Traditionally, you cook the pancake batter in a ball and add octopus and green onions, but these days people put anything they like in as they cook the batter; Nutella to make them sweet, or tomatoes to make them Italian-style… But whatever you put in a takoyaki, you should eat the whole thing in one go, in just one bite… Takoyaki is one of my favourite foods and I eat it every time I go back to Japan. It has simple ingredients, that you can change to suit your taste, and is easy and really quick to cook. Takoyaki is a famous, easy, casual finger snack that’s very popular in Japan. It’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and depending on where you live in Japan, it’s either a kind of street snack (where I come from) or eaten with rice for dinner (for example, in Osaka). In Japan, people eat takoyaki from stalls at festivals, but often it’s just something easy to eat while you’re out shopping. You can often find takoyaki stalls on the streets, and most department stores have a takoyaki stall in them. You can even find special takoyaki shops. Sometimes, when people get together, they cook takoyaki, with a takoyaki pan on the table and making them with whatever ingredients they want. That’s what a ‘tako-pa’ is – everyone sitting around, making takoyaki, eating them and having fun…
Venezuela: ArepasBy Romina Wells‘In Venezuela, we eat arepas every day for breakfast’ I am originally from Argentina, but I lived in Venezuela for 30 years and came to live in Canada 4 years ago. I love cooking in general for my family and friends. Christmas is my favourite part of the year. My mum’s family is from Venezuela and my dad’s family from Argentina. So when I lived in Venezuela we cooked Argentina recipes during Christmas, and with my mum’s family a special dish from Venezuela for December 24th and 31st. During Christmas I really enjoyed baking Christmas cookies and cakes with my mum and my sisters. I also remember when I was 6 years old, I cooked arepas – cornmeal cakes – for the first time with my grandma. I chose this recipe because it is a very healthy meal, easy to prepare and also gluten free. And you can fill it with almost anything. My favourite filling is ham and cheese. Arepas can be eaten anytime during the day. Venezuelan people enjoy them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be grilled over low heat, cooked on a greased panini press, baked, fried or made in an arepas maker. In Venezuela there are so many stores or tents on the street where you can buy arepas at any time.

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