Wednesday, November 23, 2011


We haven't done a Top Slop feature o'er here in awhile, where we ask people we admire to describe their three most memorable meals of all time. But when we saw Drawn and Devoured, a site run by Toronto illustrator Katherine Verhoeven, we knew we had to start it up again. Instead of crappy ass phone camera photos (we're sorry!), Verhoeven ups the ante by illustrating every post on the site. We ain't her only admirers: Saveur recently featured Drawn and Devoured as one of the Sites They Love.

Here's what she had to say:

(Illustration: Katherine Verhoeven)

My three meals:

It took me a while to formulate an answer to such a question: deciding on the three best meals I've had is so broad and open that it brought me to a full stop. I am a lover of food. I love cuisine, I love junk food, and I love my family food. Everything. Even in a lifetime of only 25 years, that presents me with too much choice to pick three.

It led me to think of how a meal isn't just a dinner or a lunch. The work 'meal' evokes much more of the experience. As I thought about this, I realized it was more than just the food. It's the setting. It's the people, and it's how I felt going into this meal. For that reason, the three meals I want to talk about are lodged in my memory. I eat a LOT of good food now: I'm lucky. But these meals jump at me like personal icons.

Meals are driven by hunger. To get hungry we work, sweat, build a hunger. When I was in grade school my class made a trip in the middle if January to Gould Lake for a real outdoors experience. Ahead of the trip itself, we were split into teams, to plan a lunch we would prepare for ourselves, and cook at the snowy camp. I remember taking over, and though a timid and selfconscious youth, loudly steering the group to think that YES we can cook a complex chili on an open fire we would ourselves build. At age ten. Everyone brought something. Ken brough the beef. Alex the kidney and brown beans. Heather had bag of chopped vegetables.

I brought my mother's dutch oven, which took up the entire army backpack we were each provided. We strapped snow shoes to our feet and walked the 5k to our lunch site. The oven might have weighed more than five pounds, and the guides and teachers worried. But we made it, made a fire, unloaded. Other kids made hot dogs, some grilled cheese. Everyone came to us, with our gallons of chili, asking to have some. It was the best chili I have ever had.

Not many years later, my mother fell in love with Australia, uprooting my sister and I to go live there in the turn of a few months. Immigration laws are funny: we had to take an out-of-country vacation every six months, for two weeks. We went to Bali, which is a beautiful country, lush and lively. We went everywhere. There was a lot of despondency in the air though, because the upheaval didn't sit easily in our little family. It was a trip full of excitement, amazement, and heated tempers. Our spirits were high, and I was a provoker. One night we went to a beachside restauarant for dinner. We sat at a card table meters from the waterline, were served wine, watched the golden sun dip down. I had fish, and I remember everything, maybe because the trip was so charged. We sat there and were happy, and I had this red fish with the head on, tomatoey, garlicky. It was so good.

In one way or another, I guess all my favourites have something to do with my mother. She cooked almost all my meals growing up, she baked and stewed and fried. I doubt I'd be interested in cooking without her, and if I were, I doubt I'd be good. There's only one Dutch dish that's survived in our family, which isn't surprising since we've been Canadians for a couple generations now. My Oma made it for my mother, who made it for us. Now I make it for my sister, and my friends. Wortelstamp has come to mean a never empty pot to me. It's filled so many stomachs over many years. It's so simple- a peasant dish. Onion, potato, carrots, mash. I feel good eating it. I love making it. I like surprising people with how delicious this simplicity is. We end not with one meal at one time, but a meal that for me is timeless, and always leaves a pleased impression.

Katherine Verhoeven runs Drawn and Devoured from Toronto. Check out her portfolio at Verho? Illustration.
the clutterer Web Developer


  1. "We went to Bali, which is a beautiful country"

    Bali is not a country, no. Indonesia, is, thanks.

    -Indonesian Canucker