Awarded Gold at the 2022 Taste Canada Award.
The lyricism of Bread & Water interweaves culinary insights and literary essays to pose fundamental questions about how we live––and how we feed––the larger hungers that motivate our lives.
“When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it . . .” —MFK Fisher
When chef and writer dee Hobsbawn-Smith left the city for rural life on a farm in Saskatchewan, she planned to replace cooking and teaching with poetry and prose. But—as begin the best stories—her next adventure didn’t quite work that way.
Food trickled into her poems, her essays, her fiction. And water poured into her property in both Saskatchewan and Calgary during two devastating floods.
Bread & Water uses lyrical prose to examine those two fundamental ingredients, and to probe the essential questions on how to live a life. Hobsbawn-Smith uses food to explore the hungers of the human soul: wilder hungers that loiter beyond cravings for love. She kneads themes of floods and place, grief and loss; the commonalities of refugees and Canadians through common tastes in food; cooking methods, grandmothers and mentors; the politics of local and sustainable food; parenting; male privilege in the restaurant world; and the challenges of aging gracefully.
It is an elegant collection that weaves joy into exploring the quotidian in search for larger meaning.
About the author
dee Hobsbawn-Smith's award-winning poetry, essays, and short fiction has appeared in publications in Canada, the USA, Scotland and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in Writing andher MA in English Lit at the University of Saskatchewan. Her debut poetry collection,¬†WildnessRushing In, published in 2014, was a finalist for Book of the Year and Best Poetry Collection at the Saskatchewan Book Awards.¬†What Can't Be Undone: Stories¬†was published in 2015. She's alocal foods advocate,¬†active in Slow Food for more than¬†twenty years, and has written a stack of books about food,¬†including the award-winning Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet. Sheserved as the 35th Writer in Residence at Saskatoon Public Library in 2015.¬†Bread & Water: Essays,¬†published in 2021, won the Saskatchewan Book Awards' nonfiction prize. A new poetrycollection,¬†Among the Untamed, is forthcoming next spring.¬†dee¬†lives on the remnants of her family's farm west of¬†Saskatoon.
- Short-listed, City of Saskatoon/Saskatoon Public Library Saskatoon Award
- Winner, Taste Canada
- Short-listed, University of Saskatchewan, President’s Office, Non-Fiction Award
"Food is a wonderful agent for storytelling – each ingredient tells a story, each dish is a living history, each eater shares the act of eating with passion – and Bread & Water demonstrates this brilliantly: Hobsbawn-Smith’s writing is generous, loving, and nostalgic without being saccharine. Most importantly, she shows that food is more than what we eat." —Quill and Quire (Starred Review)
"This marvelous collection situates the chef-writer within the lauded tradition of authentic food writing. Hobsbawn-Smith belongs in the same vaulted company as the iconic American food writer, M.F.K. Fisher." —Winnipeg Free Press
"This is a mouth-watering book." —Alberta Views
"An eloquent, lively contemplation of food and its myriad connections to life.” —Alice Major
“[Bread & Water] will send you back to your own kitchen to do it with care, gratitude, and love.” —Trevor Herriot, author of Towards a Prairie Atonement
"dee’s passions for the visceral stuff of life—food, cooking, love, running, loving, grieving—beckon us all to the table.” —Jennifer Cockrall-King, author of Food and the City
"The text behind the gorgeously apropos cover photograph—a chunk of homemade bread and a glass of water—is wide-ranging, provocative, and, like that heel of bread, hearty." —Shelley Ann Lee Dalh
"[dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s] words are luminescent on the page, weaving together images and stories I won’t soon forget. No matter where you are, her words feel like home." —Renée Kohlman, author of All the Sweet Things and Vegetables
“It will come as no surprise to readers of wildness rushing in that dee Hobsbawn-Smith is also an accomplished chef. Here is a feast of tastes and flavours arriving from many regions and nooks of existence, served up with a wisdom that knows its wordless ‘loveliness in loss’ equally with its sharp jolts of awe.” —Don McKay, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip
"This is a book for a dark winter's night beside the fire." —The Tomato
“Written with heart and intelligence, Bread & Water: Essays is continually entertaining and rewarding. The tone—self-aware, curious, a little vulnerable—is at once individual and communal, and creates a winning humility perfectly suited to the essays’ explorative nature.” —Judge Tim Bowling, SK Writers’ Guild 2014 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award