An Interview with Lori McCarthy & Marsha Tulk, Authors of Food, Culture, Place: Stories, traditions, and recipes of Newfoundland
Food, Culture, Place: Stories, traditions, and recipes of Newfoundland
Lori McCarthy and Marsha Tulk
Lori McCarthy and Marsha Tulk combined their interest, passion and skills to produce Food Culture Place—Stories, traditions, and recipes of Newfoundland.
Published in 2021 by Boulder Books, this 302-page book is not only a delicious read, but with copious coloured photos, it’s also a feast for the eyes.
In the foreword, McCarthy says, “The purpose of this book is to help keep the food and food traditions of Newfoundland part of our culture for generations to come. Our food holds up to the best of the best. I believe it is the soul of who we are.”
Tulk adds that she likes knowing what time of year it is, not by the calendar but by what is being caught, hunted, planted, picked or preserved. “The biology of food, where it lives, what it ate, and how it interacts with its surroundings, is fascinating,” she says, adding, “I like how food gathers people together.”
Reading this book, it becomes evident why Food Culture Place received the prestigious 2022 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the category of Food Heritage Books. With submissions from more than 200 countries considered every year, these awards are the Oscars of food books.
Lori McCarthy is a food ambassador and storyteller. She’s an avid outdoorsperson who is also a chef, forager and educator. Lori helps people celebrate the lifestyle and traditions of Newfoundland by providing cultural residencies and food experiences through her company, Food Culture Place, and her work with the Livyers Cultural Alliance.
Marsha Tulk holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual) majoring in photography and printmaking and a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her love of photography started at a young age when she found her grandfather’s darkroom. While archiving his work, she discovered a window into the traditions of her beloved island.
Sandra Phinney had the pleasure of asking the authors a few questions regarding the creation of Food Culture Place—Stories, traditions, and recipes of Newfoundland.
Sandra Phinney: How did you meet, and why did you decide to create a book together?
Lori McCarthy: We met at a rabbit-butchery course that I was teaching. We quickly came together as it’s not every day you find a partner in crime to butcher a pig with you on Friday night or clean 20 rabbits for bottling. Also, I always knew I would want to write a book with beautiful photography. When I found out about Marsha’s photo collection from her grandfather and that she’s a professional photographer, I asked if she’d write a cookbook with me and she said, “Sure.” So off we went. SP: How did the collaboration process unfold? Marsha Tulk: Lori had a basic concept for the title and how to structure the book by following the seasons for one year. We started the “On the Hunt” section (Oct/Nov/Dec) and basically wrote the book as we lived it using all the ingredients we would catch, hunt and forage as it happened. We met religiously once a week, picked a series of recipes we wanted to include, then refined the recipes, prepared and made them, then photographed them. Then we met up again the next week and repeated the process. We didn’t give ourselves too much time to overthink things. We went with our gut feelings on images, content, wording, layout and colours. We knew what we liked when we saw it. LM: The collaboration process was very well fitted. Marsha’s from the west coast of the island so it was a bit of an east coast meets west coast blend. And the flow was very intentional, following the seasons. How we eat our traditional foods here are based on the seasons. But it’s less about the weather or a date. For example, spring is less about the crocuses being up and more about how the Seal Flipper truck is on the wharf with a hundred people lined up. We wanted people to get a sense of why we eat like we do, and why this place and its foods are so steeped into who we are—like a good cuppa tea. SP: Is there anything you wish you had done differently? Any regrets? MT: None! Lori and I had different roles to play and different strengths to bring that complemented each other. Our biggest issue was deciding what recipes to keep or cut. I cannot count how many times we said to each other, “We’ll save that one for the next book.” LM: I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe dealing with Dropbox. It’s hard for creatives to hone ourselves in. SP: What was the biggest challenge? MT: The timeline. We kept on task throughout the year but there was a big push at the end to make it all come together. Once the book was submitted and ready to print, there were supply chain issues and shipping delays. SP: In the process of writing this book, what did you learn about yourselves? LM: Writing this book has changed my life. The people we met, the stories we’ve listened to—from little old ladies in their kitchens to others in a shed plucking turrs—have without a doubt changed how I see this place. This process has deepened my love and connection to Newfoundland, the people, and the food. And it’s most rewarding to see people look through our book and start their own stories when a photo brings back a memory. These moments of bringing people back to a time with family and feeling pride in this place makes this book worth everything we put into it. MT: I learned that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. But it was only attainable because I was surrounded with likeminded people with the same vision, values and work ethic. There were so many moving parts! And to do it within a year is mind blowing to think about. It took a tremendous amount of support from my husband Don, Lori, my family and the people we met who contributed along the way. It was a labour of love in elevating our simple but unique cuisine. I feel we succeeded.