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The Gateway, 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 Todd’s 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? We’re 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; ‘You’re too skinny, you’re 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 didn’t know that people didn’t 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 boyfriend’s Ukrainian and British, and I’m Jamaican and Filipino. We’re 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 show—the first full-length show that she has written on her own—Todd went on to perform it at the 2004 Edmonton Fringe Festival. The feedback she got was very positive.
“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 you’re half and half, and you’re shunned,” she says.
The play isn’t just about Todd’s background, growing up here in Edmonton, it’s also a look into the heart of what being Canadian is all about.
“I think Canada is great in the terms of—and I really do—how you can keep your cultural identity and not fall into accepting the mass. ... We’re really more of a mosaic than a melting pot. Nobody’s 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.”

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