Dulse to Donairs: An Irreverent History of Food in Nova Scotia by Steven Laffoley

Grab a cold beer (preferably Alexander Keith’s) and a lobster roll, and fasten your seatbelt; Steven Laffoley is going to take you on a fast-paced culinary journey through time and all over the world in his new book, Dulse to Donairs: An Irreverent History of Food in Nova Scotia – and you are going to get hungry!

“Absolutely cheeky, and hilariously funny, Laffoley’s book is part travelogue, part history lesson and part cookbook.”

When the self-proclaimed “spectacularly bad” cook no longer desired to “harm sentient life” with his cooking, Laffoley turned his interest in food into researching the rich culture of food in Nova Scotia. Well-researched it certainly is. Laffoley invites the reader to sit at his impeccably set dining table for a 12-course “meal” of delicacies from, obviously, dulse to donairs. Absolutely cheeky, and hilariously funny, Laffoley’s book is part travelogue, part history lesson and part cookbook. Yes, I promptly tried the recipe for Cape Breton oatcakes which were rather delicious, although I suggest passing on the Stewed Mastodon on Luski.

Laffoley lays out a lesson in the history and culture of Nova Scotia as told in food and drink, from the indigenous inhabitants of the province and their harvest of the bounties of sea and land to the contributions of the settler populations: French, English, Scottish, Irish, and Black Loyalists and more recent waves of immigrants from all over the world. Many of the dishes served up to the reader will be familiar to residents of the other Atlantic provinces (and as a New Brunswicker, I loved the shout-out to our own Ganong Bros of St Stephen for their Chicken Bones) but others are uniquely and deliciously Nova Scotian: Blueberry Grunt, Hodgepodge and those yummy Cape Breton oatcakes!

A witty and entertaining read, I suggest placing it with your recipe books rather than in your library when you finish it. Laffoley has – along with the puns – liberally sprinkled this book with a collection of recipes you’ll be inspired to make whether you live in Nova Scotia or not. Well, again, with the possible exception of the stewed mastodon… unless you have a big family; Laffoley assures us it feeds 3000. Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to pour a glass of Tidal Bay wine and make some hodgepodge for supper.

Steven Laffoley is the author of fourteen books. Hunting Halifax was shortlisted for the 2008 Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Choice Award and The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea was shortlisted for the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Nonfiction. Shadowboxing: the rise and fall of George Dixon won the 2013 Evelyn Richardson Memorial Nonfiction Award.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pottersfield Press (July 29 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 186 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989725937
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989725931

Heather McBriarty is an author, lecturer and Medical Radiation Technologist based in Saint John, NB. Her love of reading and books began early in life, as did her love of writing, but it was the discovery of old family correspondence that led to her first non-fiction book, Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front,and a passion for the First World War. She has delivered lectures to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, NB Genealogy Society, and Western Front Association (Central Ontario Branch), among others, on the war. Heather’s first novel of the “Great War”, Amid the Splintered Trees, was launched in November 2021.