Anna and Godfrey Baldacchino have an ongoing love affair with food.
Anna likes to cook and Godfrey likes to eat whatever she makes.
“Food is one of the passions of my life, and it’s one of the ways in which our marriage has been strengthened and has survived through the turbulent years . . . . We’re 30 years (married) and going strong,” says Godfrey, Canada research chair at the Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island.
The couple also loves to travel. And due to the nature of Godfrey’s work, the two have become seasoned globetrotters.
“We’ve been to Holland, England, Japan, China, Barbados, Fiji, Sweden and so many other places,” says Anna, who combines both passions by sampling the cuisine at each and every locale.
“It’s a pity when you’re in a place and you don’t try their food at least once. Then, if you don’t like it, you don’t try it again ... I also like to recreate it,” says Anna, putting the finishing touches on Pebre, a mild pepper sauce from Chile and Tranpaj Matinik, a sea food dish with fruit and tomato sauce from France.
With food in mind, Anna and Godfrey have teamed up to create a new food book. A Taste of Islands (Island Studies Press) features signature dishes from islands all over the world and the stories behind the recipes.
Their inspiration came from two directions, Godfrey says.
The first came from a colleague in Taiwan when they were there a few years ago.
“He suggested that we put together a global islands cookbook. The second inspiration was to use some of the many contacts that we have accumulated through the years and create an original cookbook,” says Godfrey.
So, with the blessing of the Institute of Island Studies, they tapped into their global network and became the book’s editors in 2011.
“We sent out a call for papers and waited for the responses. We came up with 80 different contributors and 60 dishes,” says Godfrey, noting that some dishes were a collaborative effort, with more than one author.
Eighteen months later, after much collaboration and work, the book has just rolled off the press. It is divided into four sections: soup, side dish, main meal and dessert. Recipes range from traditional stew from Haiti to pumpkin and pork pie from Malta.
“The soup selection contains the P.E.I. contribution — Joanie Sutton’s seafood chowder. We have fish ball soup from the Faroe Islands and Kakavia, another type of fish soup from Kalymnos, Greece. Then we have Nerpilaat, halibut soup from Greenland and Seongge-guk, sea urchin soup from Jeju, South Korea,” says Godfrey.
The well-researched book, launched this past Friday, is a recipe for success, says the director of the Institute of Island Studies.
“The significance of the book and Godfrey (and Anna’s) generous sponsorship of A Taste of Islands is that, if sales go well we will have a profit that we can then plough into the development of other books by and for Prince Edward Islanders,” says Irene Novaczek.
Now that the cookbook project is complete, the Baldacchinos are planning to spend even more time in the kitchen.
“What will our next project be? Maybe a cookbook of beverages from our contacts from all around the world,” says Godfrey.
In the meantime, they’re busy trying out all the recipes in the book.
“Anna continues to marvel me, even after all these years. It’s her ability to not just replicate dishes that are traditional to places very far from here, but (it’s) also the way she manages to adapt and transform dishes with ingredients that are not necessarily available,” he says.
For example, when they were living in Tasmania a few years ago she steered away from beef, using kangaroo instead.
“It tastes like rabbit. It’s a very lean meat, so I could use it anytime the recipe called for ground meat,” she says.
What: A Taste of Islands, a 264 page full-colour book published by Island Studies Press at UPEI.
Available: At the UPEI book store or online at https://store.upei.ca.
For more information, contact the Institute
of Island Studies at 566-0386 or go to http://islandstudies.upei.ca.