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MacDonald, Tom.

Illustrated by Norm MacDonald. Erin (Ont.), Boston Mills Press, c1986. 112pp, paper, $19.95, ISBN 0-919783-50-3.

Reviewed by Sharon A. McLennan McCue

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

The title of this book is misleading. It is as much a book of stories by a cook as it is a book of recipes, Tom MacDonald's recipes and stories come from his experiences as a cook in lumber camps during the 1930s and 1940s. Norm MacDonald, his son and the book's illustrator, encouraged his father to record the stories and recipes. The resultant collection is filled with anecdotes and food, all with a special flavour.

The twelve short chapters in the book begin with lumber camp stories interspersed with Norm MacDonald's sketches. After each of the stories there are be-tween twelve and twenty recipes, some, though not all of which are related to the stories.

The stories are the kind that old lurnbermen tell when they get together. I know this because my father worked as a teamster in the lumber camps of northern Ontario about the same time as Tom MacDonald did. These are funny and poignant and informative tales. They give us insight into a way of life that no longer exists and are valuable if for no other reason than that. Written down the way they were told, including occasionally salty language, the stories are a record of speech patterns and dialect as well.

The recipes are plain and tend to produce rather large quantities. The kiwis and pasta salads of nouvelle cuisine were not MacDonald's stock in trade. His job was to feed a lot of very hungry men four times a day. Basic, nutritious food filled the gap and no one noticed a lack of frills.

This unpretentious book will be enjoyed by people who worked in lumber camps, those who know them, and those who are interested in them. The Camp Cook Book would make a good gift for someone with these interests. I plan to give it to my Dad.

Sharon A. McLennan McCue, Cree School Board, Chisasibi, James Bay, Que.
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