Lindsay Wickstrom, author of Book of Donair
1. What inspired you to write about food and, in particular, about donairs?
I have always been a food lover and a writer, and they gradually coalesced into food blogging. I backpacked across Canada in 2009, and I would say that this was the catalyst for my love of culinary history and regional foods. I developed this passion for learning about iconic foods in different parts of the world, and naturally, I wanted to showcase Atlantic Canada. The donair is the most notorious and symbolic food of Nova Scotia. It is a Canadian original and it deserves to have its story told.
2. What is your favourite donair story?
The last chapter of the book is a collection of submitted donair stories, but my favourite is probably Neil MacFarlane's epic tale of how he single-handedly conquered a Bash Toulany Rumble Party Challenge Donair. I can feel the grease and sweat just reading it!
3. Why do you think donairs are so popular?
I think it's that combination of sweet and spicy that captured the attention of the Maritime palate, especially at a time when food was predictable and one-noted. The donair would have been exotic, yet familiar. It resembles comfort food. Now the donair is a symbol of "home" and there is a certain nostalgia and hometown pride attached to it. At the end of the day, it is meat and bread. Everywhere in the world has its own version. Every city has its local delicacy or regional curiosity that locals keep close to their hearts.
4. Book of Donair is your first book. What was it like to work on the project?
I definitely felt like a food detective at times, and it was exhilarating to unravel the mystery. I would discover groundbreaking, narrative-shattering information and it was a rush. It was also incredibly tedious, and seemed impossible at times. I wanted the book to be fun and entertaining, but still informative and well researched. I had to find that balance and find my voice.
5. Who was the greatest influence in your life?
Probably my Dad, if I'm being honest. He's actually a bit of a researcher, himself, in his retirement! My family has always liked dining out together, and restaurants have become my "happy place". Anthony Bourdain is my "food hero", though. That is my dream job: traveling, eating and contemplating the world.