There is a yellow adult-sized tricycle sitting outside La Sariette, a little food boutique at the Bouctouche Market. Annie Savoie is the manager and the bike is hers. She rides it around the market to get places quickly and the attention that she gets tooling around the booths is good for sales at the boutique as well.
Annie both took and taught at a Community Food Mentor (CFM) training in Richibucto in 2017, but she was involved with food for years before that. A self taught food explorer, she simply says, “I love food. I love flavours and going in any possible direction with food, taking a common ingredient and taking a recipe and going above and beyond to the cuisine of another country to see how I use that food item, that’s what I love.” She was approached by CFM organizers to take and also teach part of the course because people noticed her food skills, commitment and deep involvement in the community.
Aside from doing presentations in schools about value-added food, like yogurt, she also does workshops at the market and for other organizations.
And she makes 3-4,000 biscuits every year for the annual St. Anne carnival fund-raiser. A small catering business is also part of her food activity.
She does her research — books, library, internet — to learn cultural food history, how various dishes are prepared, and then she improvises and experiments. She has also learned from other mentors. “J’adore manger. J’adore apprendre. J’adore apprendre sur les diverse cultures, les mets et jouer avec les éléments.” In this spirit,she might take a traditional Acadian dish like fricot and transform it with another taste, like coconut.
How did she end up at La Sariette at the Bouctouche Market? “They came to get me.”, Annie explains. It seems people are always asking Annie to be a part of things. Aside from selling local products like maple syrup or sea buckthorn jam, she makes her own products like flavoured sea salt. “It always sells out.”
Educating people about food is very important. “It’s important to have a space to learn about food. It’s important to plant gardens and to know how to transform food.” According to Annie, this education should include explaining why supporting local producers is essential and how to cook with local ingredients. Also why fresh, good food is necessary for optimal health. “Food is so important because we are losing the old ways. We need to combine these with new modern methods.”
For Annie, the most interesting thing about her CFM training was the relationships that were formed as people learned together. They visited local farms and observed various modes of food production. A chef taught them about regional food. Subsequently, this training had “a big role in teaching community courses” with her new understanding of the interconnectedness of the local food scene.
So far Annie has carried out all of her activities without any form of outside funding, but with some ideas for bigger projects, she may be looking for grant money in the future.
A dream for the future, Annie Savoie would like to have a travelling restaurant, one where she comes and cooks meals in people’s homes.