Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

These are a few of my favourite things...

And maybe your holiday giftees' faves, too!



Only six more sleeps and The Big Day arrives—Christmas 2019, the last one of the decade!

Last time in this space, I came up with thoughtful gift ideas that keep on giving. Now, with the clock tick-tocking and Santa almost down the chimney, if you're still scrambling for thoughtful gifts for loved ones near and far, fear not, dear reader—'tis a piece of cake, with dried fruits and nuts or otherwise.

Cue the year ahead...

With apologies to the "obvious metaphor" police, now that 2020 is in our sightlines, I clearly see a way to solve last-minute gift-giving dilemmas—a way that supports some of the finest institutions any free society enjoys.

You can take the old newspaper gal out of the newspaper, but you can't take the old newspaper out of the gal, and I say that good thoughtful, well-researched, well-written publications are more relevant than ever as we drown in scatterbrain social media.

In Whistler, the first choices that pop to mind are the kind of well-written, beautifully rendered outdoor adventure pubs like Mountain Life puts out. "Support meaningful, reader-driven journalism," the good folks at Mountain Life urge. I'll toast that. Clink! Did I mention that Pique's own Leslie Anthony and Feet Banks are major Mountain Life contributors? When you support good-quality, thoughtful publications, you also support a lot of good, quality, thoughtful people.

On that lively note, let me branch out and suggest a handful of other pubs that may not be that obvious for giving at Christmas or anytime.

But first, a few tips: Every publication is different. Some are only online; some come both in print and digital form. Also, note that a subscription also gets your giftee into all the excellent digitally archived material these publications safeguard.

So if you're worried about piles of mouldering paper or all the dead trees, fear not. For those that offer both, you can opt for the digital version only and simply get your giftee through the online paywall that would otherwise restrict their reading and (contemplative) pleasure.

On that point, let me bring in Maryanne Wolf. Scholar, director at UCLA and author of several excellent books, including Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, Wolf points out that when people process information in brief bursts, it actually curtails the part of the brain where we form insight and empathy—the "contemplative dimension" of our brains. (Think trolls.)

Many of the pubs that engage our fine brains offer gift cards or acknowledgements, or you can make your own or run out and buy the latest edition from the newsstand, wrap it festively and present it your giftee.

If you opt for print issues, think "gifts that keep on giving." Many libraries as well as centres for literacy and for helping new Canadians—and older ones who still enjoy a good read—welcome quality publications second-hand.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and all good wishes for the holly-daze.

Happy Reading, whatever you choose.

Guarding integrity

The question always comes up at J-school: What's the best newspaper in the world? Our instructor of the day, Gerry Porter, didn't hesitate, but he better framed the answer: "The best newspaper in the English-speaking world is The Guardian." The Guardian is a gem. It and its sister papers, The Observer and The Guardian Weekly, are owned by the not-for-profit Scott Trust, which was created in 1936 to "secure the financial and editorial independence" of the now-plural newspapers and keep them free from commercial or political interference. The is free—no paywall—so technically you don't have to spend a dime, but then where's the integrity in that? You can opt for a subscription, or make a donation to The Guardian Foundation in your giftee's name. Long live the free press!

More good news

I got into The Washington Post—another "best of" newspaper—after reading Katherine Graham's awesome autobiography. She took over the Post after her husband died, and oversaw its Watergate days. With its motto "Democracy Dies in Darkness," it's a perfect antidote for much that ails us. Two other American greats: The New York Times and Harper's Magazine, the oldest general interest magazine in America— the archive is 169 years old!. Hubby gave me subscriptions to both, and I love them. The Times for the news, the analyses, the climate coverage and, of course, the great art and book reviews; Harper's for its considered reporting, excellent art and great fiction. Both make treasured gifts.

Top it up with science and nature

No better time than now for 20/20 vision when it comes to what's happening in nature and science. We had a lovely surprise land in our mailbox last Christmas when my sister and brother-in-law sent us a subscription to Canadian Geographic. Published by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society since 1930, you support the society and its good work in Canada and beyond with this excellent publication. Bonus: your recipient gets a good read.

Then there are the two bastions of science reporting, from biology to astronomy: Scientific American, from the U.S., and New Scientist, out of the U.K. Both are also gifts in our home—one from me to me with love! (I'd rather have a year of New Scientist than a new sweater, any day.) They're both excellent eye-openers regarding all aspects of life in our complicated new age.

Home is where the heart is

Finally, who wouldn't want a subscription to our own home-grown Pique Newsmagazine, especially if they love you and live far away? Pique has won dozens of awards for its fearsome reporting and awesome attitude and art, so share a slice of the real "Whistler" with someone you love.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who still loves the feel of paper in her hands.