The Taste of Words: A Bilingual Panel DiscussionLe goût des mots : une table ronde bilingue[Record]

  • James Chatto,
  • Lesley Chesterman,
  • Marcy Goldman and
  • Catherine Turgeon-Gouin

On February 11, 2011, the French and English Departments of McGill University hosted The Taste of Words/Le goût des mots, a bilingual panel discussion in the heart of bilingual Montreal. Organized by Professors Paul Yachnin and Frédéric Charbonneau, the event was held at the Faculty Club in support of the Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence Program, a joint initiative of the two departments. Journalists, food critics, cookbook authors, chefs, farmers, and food studies scholars joined in the conversation, sharing the delights and challenges of talking and writing about gastronomy. Featuring James Chatto, Lesley Chesterman, Marcy Goldman, and Catherine Turgeon-Gouin, and moderated by Nathalie Cooke, the discussion centred on the following questions: Language and food are a natural pairing: both pass through our mouths, we prepare and consume both with our hands, we think of them both as having textures and finishes, either of them can be worn on our sleeves, and they fill our homes, our neighbourhoods, and a library’s worth of books, magazines, newspapers, and websites. The ways that we procure, produce, cook, consume, and think about food create our sense of cuisine. In turn, the ways that we write and talk about food contribute to the creation not only of our cultures, but also of who we are. Today, we welcome guests who shape our food tastes and who write about our food tastes: four panelists who have done much to create and describe Montreal’s foodways both as food makers and food writers. Rather than introduce them all, I’m going to turn to each one, inviting them to introduce themselves by answering a question about their own tastes and preferences. You’ve heard that Robert Beauchemin is ill, but rather than add another panelist we asked Catherine Turgeon-Gouin if she would come and speak because in the spirit of the Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence program, which is going to alternate between the French and English languages and is a collaborative project of the two departments, she seemed like an ideal person—not only because of what she’s going to tell you, but because as a francophone graduate student writing an English-language thesis in McGill’s English Department about Québec’s national imaginary, she was a wonderful example of somebody who’s moving back and forth and has that sense of a dynamic interaction between the two cultures, the two languages, and in some sense between the two departments. Let me start by introducing you to Lesley Chesterman, who has now been a Montreal Gazette food critic for a baker’s dozen years. Ce qui est logique, puisqu’elle est chef pâtissière de formation et compte parmi ses trois livres Boulangerie et Patisserie: Techniques de Base, publié en 2001. Lesley has branched out considerably from both pastries and books—she writes about and reviews all kinds of food and drink and her work has appeared in magazines like Gourmet and Saveur and on her website, Lesley, I was wondering if you could give us a sense of your own tastes: what is your favourite piece of food writing? To turn to the next question, how do you translate the myriad sensations associated with food and wine into words? Next question: What genres, forms, styles do you use in your writing about food? Do you adjust these features of your writing depending on the writing task or the food you’re writing about? Quels sont les genres, les formes, les styles dont vous vous servez lorsque vous écrivez à propos de la nourriture ? Les ajustez-vous en fonction du type de texte que vous devez écrire ? du type de nourriture dont il s'agit ? I think humour’s …