Janis Thiessen and Kimberley Moore recently wrote the book Mmm... Manitoba: The Stories Behind the Foods We Eat. 

They started their research in 2018 by driving around Manitoba in a food truck learning about the different foods in the province and the people who make, sell, and eat them.

They conducted nearly seventy interviews and tasted many different foods in the process.

Moore explains that Mmm... Manitoba is not only a book with recipes, photos, archival records, and biographies, but it also has QR codes at the beginning of each chapter that link to online content they created. 

“Like the digital media that we produced during the project, which includes the podcast series and ArcGIS StoryMaps: the maps in the book on the website, they're dynamic so you can zoom in and out and look around the streetscapes.” 

She adds the information wasn’t gathered in a single road trip, but a large collection of outings. 

They had outings with the truck to places such as Sir William Stephenson Library in Winnipeg, the Sunflower Festival in Altona, the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, and Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin. 

“We worked where we did a few days or a weekend, because it was just very onerous to think about driving a diesel-fuel food truck around the province on a road trip.” 

When visiting the Mennonite Heritage Village, they had people come into the truck and cook their recipes. They were also able to interview people working at the museum. 

Thiessen shares more of their experience in Steinbach: 

“We met in the homes of a couple, who at that time, were in leadership of the South EastMan Filipino Association, and various businesses in town as well, restaurants, food manufacturers, butchers.” 

They visited other places across Manitoba without the truck, such as Carmen, Gimli, and Churchill. 

They have a map on their website, manitobafoodhistory.ca, that shows all of the places they went, who they interviewed, and links showing the outcomes of those interviews.

Moore says a big reason they wanted to write the book is that archival records about food history are few and far between. 

“So we thought oral history would be a perfect methodology where we could invite people in and they could tell us what food was meaningful to them.” 

Thiessen adds it was also a way for them to record some of the more hidden history of food production, which happens in the home. 

“And the food truck gave us kind of a partly public, partly private space in which people could share their home recipes without actually literally inviting us into their home.” 

Mmm... Manitoba is now available for pre-order through University of Manitoba Press. The book will officially be available in April. 

mmm Manitoba book cover