A novel to weave Filipino roots in the future of his sons

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In Primrose’s first novel Madayag Knazan, food is the gateway to greater self-understanding. It’s a story arc that’s played out multiple times in real life for the Winnipeg playwright.

Fusion Price follows Sarah, a 16-year-old food blogger, as she embarks on a virtual cooking contest that prompts her to explore her Filipino heritage. It’s an eye-opening journey for the main character, who was insistently brought up in Judaism.

Lessons in Fusion follows 16-year-old food blogger Sarah as she embarks on a virtual cooking contest that prompts her to explore her Filipino heritage.“/>

FREE PRESS JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG

Fusion Price follows Sarah, a 16-year-old food blogger, as she embarks on a virtual cooking contest that prompts her to explore her Filipino heritage.

Like Sarah, Madayag Knazan is Jewish and also reconnected with her Filipino roots later in life.

“I grew up when my parents were told, ‘You can’t speak Filipino to your daughter anymore because she won’t be smart, she won’t be successful,’” says Madayag Knazan, whose family immigrated to Winnipeg. from the Philippines in 1974. “I lost that connection to my culture and have struggled to get it back ever since.”

As a child, she turned away from the traditional foods her parents prepared at home, opting instead for the sandwiches, fries and fish fingers that her classmates ate. Over the past decade, however, food blogs – first, sharing their own forays into Filipino cuisine; then, explore the local restaurants – provided a point of return.

“I’ve always been proud to be Filipino,” she says. “But once I had kids, I wanted to make sure it was a part of their life.”

Madayag Knazan shares her culinary journeys on Instagram (@pegonaplate), where she reviews local restaurants and food, while showcasing the city’s Filipino food scene.

“We’re continually called the second best thing,” she says, “but I think people are starting to think of Filipino food as more than pancit, lumpia, and adobo.”

Locally, Madayag Knazan says that the arrival of chains like Jollibee and Max’s Restaurant, and the ubiquity of ingredients like ube, a purple yam from the Philippines, have made the cuisine grow. At the same time, pop-up dinners, like Winnipeg’s Baon Manila Nights, gave Filipino chefs a bigger platform.

As a food blogger, Madayag Knazan considers merging with other cuisines to be a major current trend.

“It’s always been Filipino food,” she says. “It comes from a place of economy, using what you have and making it as tasty and tasty as possible.

“I see it as a mirror of Filipino culture. People think the Philippines is a simple culture, but it’s very complex in terms of history and colonization and the whole idea of ​​this mishmash of flavors being put in place.”

Fusion Price is about embracing multiple and complex identities while challenging the expectations of others. Madayag Knazan worked with Great Plains Publications to write a young adult novel focused on food and capturing the experiences of his sons growing up with a mixed heritage – they are half Ashkenazi Jews and half Filipino. Each chapter begins with an original recipe.

“As she learns about her culture and food, she tries to mash them together and create fusion dishes,” Madayag Knazan said of the main character.

Writing a novel has been on her to-do list for a long time. Writing a novel for YA at 46 and after decades of drama writing isn’t exactly what she envisioned.

Madayag Knazan has written plays for the Winnipeg Fringe Theater Festival, the Royal Manitoba Theater Center, the Winnipeg Jewish Theater and Sarasvati Productions. With the theater, she is used to immediate feedback from the audience and works on every piece of dialogue. Writing a novel gave her freedom of expression and the chance to see the world from her teenage daughter’s perspective.

“I wanted to write something he wanted to read. And he expressed that he wanted to see himself more in the stories,” she says. “I want to see more books and more stories that my son can relate to – I shouldn’t be the only one writing this.”

Fusion Price is available for purchase at greatplains.mb.ca or McNally Robinson.

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Twitter: @evawasney

Eva wasney


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