November 18, 2004
Melting pot not required when making Deep Fried Curried Perogies
by Scott C Bourgeois
Everyone has unusual stories they can relate about growing
up, but for local playwright/actor/director Michelle Todd,
those strange tales of youth inspired a one-woman play, Deep
Fried Curried Perogies. Though the play deals with Todds
unique background of growing up in Edmonton with a Jamaican
father and a Filipino mother, audiences will find plenty to
identify with as the play explores the commonality we all
share and the question of what it means to be a Canadian.
You know what? Were all pretty much the same,
says Todd. And, she explains, mothers are one of those things
that everyone has in common. Everyone could relate to
stuff like mothers wanting to feed you, regardless of ethnicity;
Youre too skinny, youre too fat.
Mind you, while everyone might relate to a mother wanting
to plump up her brood, what Ma fattens the kiddies with is
something a bit more particular, as Todd found out.
I didnt know that people didnt eat rice
every day, recalls Todd with a laugh. We were
rice people. My mom probably knows thirty billion ways to
make it: brown rice, fried rice, steamed rice, you name it.
She should write a recipe book.
Interestingly, the idea of culturally specific dishes inspired
the play. Todd decided to write the play after she discovered
she was pregnant.
|It dawned on me:
my boyfriends Ukrainian and British, and Im Jamaican
and Filipino. Were going to raise a Canadian. ... What
the hell does that mean?
For Todd, this also brought up other unusual questions. What
about our ethnicity? What are we going to do? What if [the baby]
has to bring food from his culture, what am I doing to do? What
am I going to make? Deep fried curried perogies?
After writing the showthe first full-length show that
she has written on her ownTodd went on to perform it at
the 2004 Edmonton Fringe Festival. The feedback she got was
A lot of people said how they wish their son or daughter
could have seen it, because they have children of mixed ethnicity.
Some very touching stories of the hardships you deal with when
youre half and half, and youre shunned, she
The play isnt just about Todds background, growing
up here in Edmonton, its also a look into the heart of
what being Canadian is all about.
I think Canada is great in the terms ofand I really
dohow you can keep your cultural identity and not fall
into accepting the mass. ... Were really more of a mosaic
than a melting pot. Nobodys really expected to melt in;
you can see each tile clearly.
It totally enriches us, she continues. Being
able to relate to, and identify with, other cultures. It makes
us more understanding, which makes us less prone to war, and
misunderstanding, and lack of communication.