The fifth in a series of videos discussing my book, Menno-Nightcaps.
I discuss the news that Menno-Nightcaps, Cocktails Inspired by that Odd Ethno-Religious Group You Keep Mistaking for the Amish, Quakers or Mormons (Touchwood, 2021) has recently been included in the 2022 Taste Canada shortlist.
Music: The 606 Rag, composed and performed by Ed Heese
Videography: David Brulé
[Music] Hi. I’m Sherri Klassen, author of Menno-Nightcaps: Cocktails Inspired by that Odd Ethno-Religious Group you Keep Mistaking for the Amish, Quakers or Mormons.
I was thrilled to recently learn that Menno-Nightcaps has been shortlisted by Taste Canada in the category of Culinary Narratives. And what a great category that is. It’s all about books that tell stories using food. Well, the goal of Menno-Nightcaps is to have fun while telling stories about Mennonites. About our history, our origins, our long history of disagreeing with each other, our culture and our religion. And it does that with cocktails. So Menno-Nightcaps sits at the intersection of mixology and Mennonite Studies. I’d say it’s not a crowded intersection. Where it sits — I could imagine it like an unpadded Church pew in an otherwise luxurious cocktail bar. That’s where Menno-Nightcaps sits. But it’s not all bad. It’s actually a pretty fun place to sit. I’ve actually been really gratified by the positive responses I’ve had from people in the Mennonite community. Who have maybe been longing all this time without knowing it, for some historically inspired cocktail recipes. In fact, though I never intended Menno-Nightcaps to be a work of cocktail evangelism, I have been surprised by the number of people in the Mennonite world who told me that they started drinking cocktails after getting this book. Before that they drank wine or beer; these are not people who did not drink alcohol at all. So they’re just expanding their horizons a bit and I’m fine with that.
I haven’t heard it happening in the other direction. I haven’t heard of cocktail enthusiasts picking up the book and suddenly deciding to join the Mennonite fold. And you know what? I’m fine with that, too. Like I said, it’s not a work of evangelism.
I actually haven’t had that much feedback from the Canadian food and drink community as I have from the Mennonite world. Which could mean that Mennonites have a better sense of humour than foodies. Ok, I actually just think I am better embedded in the Mennonite world than I am in the food and drink world. But. This Taste Canada shortlisting suggests to me that, though Taste Canada may be very serious about food and drink, they can also lighten up every now and then.
Taste Canada’s mission is to promote, honour and celebrate Canadian culinary writing. And that’s what this is.
Menno-Nightcaps is actually very much Canadian. Mennonites didn’t start in Canada and Canada doesn’t have the largest number of Mennonites in the world but we do have the second largest percentage of Mennonites per capita in the world. And that means that pretty much everyone in Canada has encountered a Mennonite at least once in their life. I do not guarantee these encounters were all positive. However, we’re not all the same. We vary by ideology, religion, politics, ethnicity, and whether we where belts or suspenders to hold up our pants. We vary. And that can result in a bit of misunderstanding.
I’d say that misunderstanding Mennonites based on a singular encounter might be considered, accurately, as a shared Canadian experience.
So in Menno-Nightcaps, I try to cover the range of encounters that Canadians might have with Mennonites. Hopefully, I have a cocktail here to represent every type of Mennonite in Canada, whether it’s a peace activist progressive Mennonite or a plain-dressing, bicycle-riding Mennonite. It’s all part of the Canadian (Mennonite) Mosiac.
So right now, I’d just like to raise a toast to Taste Canada, Mennonites, and Touchwood Editions who saw the potential in Menno-Nightcaps, got the joke, and published it.