5×5 With The Hook: Paula Roy.

Some of the greatest, most powerful memories of my lifetime involve food.

Some involve breaking bread with friends and family, those I’m happy to share. Others involve romantic interludes and… well, let’s just say some things are better left to the imagination and leave it at that, shall we?

My point is this: food is more than just a means to an end; namely, survival. It can be an expression of love: a mother goes above and beyond to prepare a meal for her loved ones. (In my case, it was a weekly care package delivered to my home-away-from during my college years.)  It can be a financial support system; I know whole generations of restaurateurs in Niagara Falls alone, never mind the world, to say nothing of the number of people employed in the global food industry. It is such a vital component in our collective existence that we’ve devoted entire television networks to worship it properly.

And that brings us to today’s guest, Paula Roy. Not only is she sweeter than the contents of an entire bakery (yes, I’m a silver-tongued devil), she ‘s hilarious, good-natured, generous (hence her appearance here) and a sorceress in the kitchen. I’m not kidding about the magical component; I can barely boil water, so Paula’s culinary skills leave me breathless. (Once, when were newly-married my wife asked me to ‘get the water hot’ for spaghetti as she got changed. I put Lady in Red on and danced seductively in front of the pot.)

OTTAWA, ON. DECEMBER 9, 2013 --- Paula Roy makes delicious edible gifts in her Ottawa kitchen Monday. (Julie Oliver/Ottawa Citizen) #115362. LIFE. Sonia Mendes.

In this day and age we all work harder than we should have to and our diets suffer. We rarely have time to prepare a decent meal of ourselves or our loved ones and so we rely on the sage – and delicious – advice of artists like Paula to keep us running and to stimulate our senses. To top it all off, Paula is a fellow blogger whose site is “amazeballs”! (Hey, don’t blame me, I picked the lingo up from Paula.) Check out her slice of cyberspace for yourself by clicking here.

Paula Roy is also an integral part of the Yummy Mummy Club, the coolest collection of kick-ass matriarchs ever assembled in one place. You can check out her YMC blog, Whole Foods in Half the Time, here.  Your taste buds will owe me a huge solid.

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Elevating our lives through writing isn’t enough for Paula ( she’s also a busy freelance writer and serves as the food editor of popular style magazine Ottawa At Home) and so she even has her own slice of the television market: Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods has aired 9 episodes so far and three more are set to shoot in just a few weeks. The series is now archived on YouTube.

That concludes our appetizer, friends, time for the main course…

ONE)  I know you love to explore faraway lands; can you share a tale of a journey gone awry?  In a hilarious way, of course!

One of the most memorable trips of my lifetime will likely be the incredible month-long journey I enjoyed through India and Nepal with my mother, who was a spunky and adventurous 76-year-old at the time. There were a number of hair-raising moments throughout the trip but the biggest glitch we encountered was arriving at our overbooked hotel in the city of Jodhpur, where, to our utter astonishment, we were told we’d be sleeping in a tent on the front lawn.

Fearing more than a little for our safety, we were serenaded to sleep by blaring truck horns, loud music and barking dogs, then awoken just a few hours later at dawn by the muezzin’s call to workshop, accompanied by a chorus of crowing roosters. We still laugh about it all the time.

(I’m not so sure I’d be laughing; my therapist would though.)

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TWO)  An unforgettable meal can unify people. (It works wonders with families. When we put the drama aside, that is.)  If you could bring world leaders together and serve them a single dish, what would it be?

If I could bring world leaders together, I wouldn’t serve them a dish – I’d have them collaborate to prepare one to enjoy together. I find that working alongside others in the kitchen is a great way to get to know people; it often provokes positive conversations, which is what I think the world needs right about now. And what would I have them prepare? Something that takes patience and lots of cooperation, like handmade pasta. Everybody loves noodles, right?

(Absolutely! I told you Paula was awesome.)

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THREE)  What do you think of the New Age of television cooking programming, specifically cooking competitions? Do you enjoy shows like Chopped Canada or Cutthroat Kitchen?

I have to confess that I don’t watch a lot of cooking shows as I’ve usually had more than enough screen time by the end of the day. Plus, the menfolk in my house monopolize the TV and they prefer sports.

Having said that, I have watched Cutthroat Kitchen occasionally and found it to be amusing, albeit in a completely unrealistic way. I mean, cooking’s not really a game show. While I think it is great that cooking shows are getting people talking about food more, I worry that because so many of shows don’t actually impart practical tips for home cooks, they really aren’t that useful.

I’d like to find time to watch the documentary-style show Chef’s Table, but truthfully, I’d still prefer to cook than watch TV. It’s fine to be entertained, but I’d rather sit down to a plate of delicious food than stare at it on a screen.

(I can’t argue with that logic.)

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FOUR)  People – especially moms – are often too busy working to cook actual meals these days; is there a single “meal cheat” everyone should follow?

My biggest tip isn’t revolutionary but it works.

Carve out a little weekend time to do a ton of meal prep and fill your freezer. But instead of batch cooking entire recipes (which can get tiresome from an eating perspective), I recommend cooking up versatile, flexible ingredients and freezing them. Roast some chicken breasts then shred the meat; you can later transform it into stews, enchiladas, and more. Brown some ground turkey or beef with onions and garlic to use in tacos, pasta sauce or casseroles. Sauté up a whole bunch of colourful peppers to add to soups, sauces and fajitas. Make big batches of mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa and cooked pasta and portion into freezer bags.

This way, you’ll have all the makings for a lot of different quick meals on hand whenever you need them.

(See?  She isn’t just a pretty face, she just made sure you don’t starve to death!)

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FIVE)  If you could share a meal with anyone, living, dead, fictional or real, who would you pick?

For me, there would be nothing finer than sitting down to a meal with Julia Child. When I started filming my own cooking show, Paula Roy’s Favourite Foods, last year, a friend remarked that I was on my way to becoming the next Julia Child. I don’t know about that, but I adored Julia’s show and have read so much about her, so I think that dinner with her would be very thought-provoking and entertaining. Plus, she’d probably bring excellent wine.

img9-c901399c26a430139f4ab09883263842“Read The Hook’s blog daily or perish before the might of my undead chicken army!”

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(Paula’s either going to love or hate me after reading that last caption, but it was totally worth it.)

And that’s all I have for you today. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving! My eternal gratitude to Paula Roy for being here today and of course, to all of you. Now I’m off to mess up one of Paula’s delicious recipes.

See you in the lobby, kids…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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13 Responses to 5×5 With The Hook: Paula Roy.

  1. markbialczak says:

    Thanks for your food for thought from Paula and yourself today, Hook. Sorry, had to say it that way …

  2. davidprosser says:

    I’m safe from the Undead Chicken Army at least. Nice post Robert.
    Hugs

  3. Another great interview, Hook. I love to cook and enjoyed your feature today. I would love to sit with Julia, you and Paula for a meal.

  4. I had to grab a snack after this one. Great interview. I love the idea of having people prepare a collaborative dish, working together. Because I’m not big on having to cook every meal every day from scratch (especially now that my teenage son is home full time), I often cook more than I need for one meal, and do things like put rice into individual sized serving containers and freeze them. And after baking a few whole chickens, I’ve recently begun making my own broth from the carcasses, saving the pan drippings for added flavor for some killer chicken veggie soup. My biggest food challenge is fixing gluten-free, dairy-free food for my son, who is a very picky eater. (It’s a relatively new challenge, being just a year old).

  5. curvyroads says:

    Cool interview and really useful tips!

  6. umashankar says:

    Man, I am ashamed of what happened to Paula and her mom in Jodhpur, India. Don’t I feel the cunning of the species deep in my bones? Just remember though, no one but the Almighty could have cooked such spicy brains for this planet. I loved Paula’s observations about food and cooking in general —a voice of sanity in the sea of over-hyped cookery shows and contests.

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