By Brittany Tiplady
In Cooked, journalist and author Michael Pollan explores the continual and timeless necessity of fire, water, air, and earth, as critical creators and sustainers of food, and how we make it.
In his book and documentary of the same name, Pollan profoundly shares that “all cooking is alchemy– it’s transformation. But bread is the greatest alchemy of all. Take a small amount of food and turn it into a large amount of food that can feed a lot of people, literally out of thin air.”
Throughout history, flour, water, salt, yeast has been kneaded into many iterations – feeding religions, cultures, and diasporas across the globe, weaving together our singular need for nourishment.
Bread is the great connector.
And to celebrate that, The Coquitlam Heritage Society invites you to break bread with them.
On until June 30, 2023, the Breaking Bread exhibit at the Mackin House is an interactive exhibit that takes visitors through an inventive display of history and cultural significance, catering to all audiences.
Curated with the support of the Heritage Manager Markus Fahrner, the exhibit details and explores food insecurity, inflation, religion, society, and science and spotlights significant breads in cultural cuisines including (but certainly not limited to) challah, roti, arepa and bannock.
Local bakeries and breweries are also given some love – even Big Dog Little Dog bakery in Burnaby is included in the conversation.
“This isn’t just about recipes, our exhibit focuses on a wider range of topics,” shares Fahrner during an exhibit tour. “You take [bread] so for granted. But you see it everywhere – almost everyone in the world eats bread in some form. It’s so essential in our cultures that you don’t even think about it. This really feels like the mark of society. Everyone can connect to it,”
Throughout the day, an oral history of bread plays on the exhibit’s television featuring videos from Maison Mori (a Burnaby-based takeout bakery that specializes in Korean baked goods), Olivier’s La Boulangerie, and Delali Adiamah the owner of Dehls Gourmet, a catering service specializing in West African cuisine.
But if you get lucky you’ll catch Adiamah–who is also Coquitlam Heritage’s baker and Artist in Residence–perched up in the Mackin House kitchen baking something delicious for visitors to watch live (and no doubt spreading the most tantalizing aroma throughout the house).
“At Coquitlam Heritage we try to have a pulse on the community. I think it’s important for museums to open up – for so long [museums] have been gatekeepers of culture. The idea with Breaking Bread was to do something that touches us all. The beautiful thing about this exhibit is that it allows us to have a baker in residence and it touches on domestic life as well. This is not about a war or big event, this is for every person,” says Fahrner.
Adiamah’s residency has included weekly live baking displays for community visitors, workshops, blog and recipe writing, and fun bread baking experiments.
For kids, Fahrner has included memory games, scavenger hunts and tactile experiences with fake and real breads to squeeze and touch. “I didn’t want this to be boring, it’s important for me for kids to get into this as well,” adds Fahrner.
The Breaking Bread Exhibit is open until June 30, 2023 at the Mackin House.
On Wednesday, April 19 at 11 am, Delali Adiamah will be in the kitchen testing out her new fruit and vegetable bread recipe. On April 29 at 11 am, you can stop by the Mackin House for a Farewell Open House event to celebrate the end of Adiamah’s residency.
Learn more about the history and cultural significance of bread, the Breaking Bread exhibit, and watch a selection of oral history videos from Coquitlam Heritage Society here.
There are many ways to get here by transit. Visit TransLink’s Trip Planner to find your way.
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