Book Review with Jamie Heap
Seasoned: Recipes and Essays from the Spiceman, Costas Halavrezos. (Halifax: Nimbus, 2013), $24.95, 168 pages.
Most people pen and purchase cookbooks to inform and be informed about food. While Halifax’s resident spiceman Costas Halavrezos holds up his end of the bargain, he also surpasses the minimum expectations placed on chefs/cooks through his first rate story telling ability about such serious social issues as violence committed by men against women.
From 1987 to 2010, Halavrezos hosted CBC’s Radio’s Maritime Noon. In 2010, he traded air time for a table at the Halifax Farmer’s Market.
Growing up in Saint John, Halavrezos’ penchant for broadcasting and selling spices spawned out Nick’s Coffee Counter, a business operated by his parents. Accompanying the more than fifty recipes inspired by African, Greek, Indian, Maritime and Mexican cuisine are flavourful reflections of a broadcaster and spiceman who was also an assistant director of a youth hostel/drug crisis centre in the 1970s. It was during that time that Halavrezos’ recipe and LP collections started stacking up.
In chapter 9, Halavrezos’ reflects about December. December 6 is St. Nicholas Day- Halavrezos’ eldest son’s name day. “We always send a chocolate letter ‘N’ to him in Montreal,” writes Halavrezos. “From that St. Nicholas Day (1989) forward, December 6 would carry a painful historic burden.” The burden he refers to is the Montreal Massacre.
“The 1970s had seen Maritime communities make their first steps towards acknowledging male violence towards women and children by establishing emergency shelters in residential areas.” writes Halavrezos. “It hadn’t been easy. Potential neighbours used zoning bylaws to keep these houses as far away from them as possible. Shelters were a too-uncomfortable truth about what happens in every town and city. By 1989, however these shelters had become a part of many communities.”
Jamie Heap’s book reviews appear weekly in the Amherst News.