à la carte: Jan Wong and Jackie Kai Ellis in conversation with Hattie Klotz

À la carte logo with 2 authors and books

Library and Archives Canada, the Ottawa Public Library and the Ottawa International Writers Festival invite you to an evening of great food and great conversation with Jan Wong, Jackie Kai Ellis and Hattie Klotz.

During this event, authors Jan Wong and Jackie Kai Ellis will share a selection from their books, Apron Strings: Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy, and China and The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris. They will then talk about food, family, and culture with Hattie Klotz, an Ottawa-based writer, journalist, gourmet, gardener and avid cook. Ms. Wong and Ms. Kai Ellis will take a few questions from the audience and will sign copies of their books.

Date: Thursday, March 29, 2018,
Time: 7 to 9 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Location: Library and Archives Canada, Pellan Room, 2nd Floor
395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Presentation in English only. Refreshments will be available.

Registration is free. However seating is limited, so please register below. For more information about this event, email bac.invitation.lac@bac-lac.gc.ca.


About Jan Wong’s book Apron Strings: Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy, and China

A memoir about family, an exploration of the globalization of food cultures, and a meditation on the complicated relationships between mothers and sons, Jan Wong’s Apron Strings is complex, unpredictable, and unexpectedly hilarious.

Jan Wong knows food is better when shared, so when she set out to write a book about home cooking in France, Italy, and China, she asked her 22-year-old son, Sam, to join her. While he wasn't keen on spending excessive time with his mom, he dreamed of becoming a chef. Ultimately, it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

On their journey, Jan and Sam lived and cooked with locals, seeing first-hand how globalization is changing food, families, and cultures. In southeast France, they moved in with a family that was sheltering undocumented migrants. From Bernadette the housekeeper, they learned classic French family fare such as blanquette de veau. In a hamlet in the heart of Italy's Slow Food country, the villagers taught them without fuss or fanfare how to make authentic spaghetti alle vongole and a proper risotto with leeks. In Shanghai, they cooked firecracker chicken and scallion pancakes with the nouveaux riches and their migrant maids, who comprise one of the biggest demographic shifts in world history. Along the way, mother and son explored their sometimes-fraught relationship, uniting—and occasionally clashing—over their mutual love of cooking.

"For a foodie like me, Jan’s book is irresistible, but the fact is that anyone will love this book. Apron Strings is one of the most appealing, charming, loveable books I’ve read in years." —Stevie Cameron, author of On the Take

About Jackie Kai Ellis's book The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris

Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humour, The Measure of My Powers is an unforgettable experience of the senses. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that every woman—herself included—wanted. She was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, and a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she would wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded every moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers—unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. It was the place where Jackie escaped, finding peace, comfort, and acceptance. This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of the great 20th-century food writer M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey—from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again—to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and ultimately finds a path to life and joy.


à la carte is the Ottawa Public Library’s food literacy project and is funded by the Government of Ontario.

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