Maz Esnouf is one of those Whistler characters who was likely a true-blue local long before she knew it. Originally from Australia, she arrived at the resort 15 years ago to ski big time and teach kids on Whistler Blackcomb to love the mountains and skiing as much as she does.
Today, she’s part of the super crew that keeps Whistler’s popular library humming. Maz works at the service desk, plus she heads up the library’s popular virtual Cookbook Club, which she launched during the pandemic, and will start up again in the fall. (Meanwhile, check out their Crack the Case Community Scavenger Hunt starting July 12—for kids of all ages.)
Last column we learned a bit about Maz and her family, including her excitement over recently being sworn in as a Canadian citizen—virtually, of course, just like the Cookbook Club.
Today, we’re jumping into the family fridge, a classic stainless steel Whirlpool with the freezer on top. It’s located in the L-shaped kitchen up a short flight of stairs from the landing of their cozy townhome in Bayshores, a peaceful residential area south of Whistler Creekside. The windows frame the neighbouring greenery and also allow Maz and her husband, Tim, to see son Thomas (who, BTW, is five years old, not six as I mentioned last time) when he plays outside in the common area. That includes the community garden where all sorts of good things grow, from potatoes to bulb onions, which Maz is trying for the first time this year.
Maz is the perfect guide to take us through the family fridge. Tim has his moments—cooking when Maz is away and doing up a mean breakfast. (“He’s better at poaching an egg than I am!” she points out.) Otherwise, Maz does all the cooking, and it’s not with any reluctance.
“You know what? I actually get a lot of love, a lot of joy out of cooking,” she says. “I realized that one of the ways I show love is by cooking and feeding people. So this past year and a half, when I haven’t been able to have people come over and feed them, has really driven me insane.”
One good thing did come out of the pandemic, though—her discovery of SPUD Food Delivery, which aligns nicely with all her values about supporting sustainable, organic, local food. It’s a service she still likes to use, along with buying directly from Sea to Sky farmers whenever she can.
As for a guiding food philosophy, it’s basically “flexitarian” as Maz puts it—”we go with whatever’s in the fridge.” They have lots of meat-free meals, like the yummy Honey, Soy, and Ginger Braised Tofu recipe she shared last time from East, by Meera Sodha, her favourite library cookbook. She also loves the Little Green Kitchen series, which she used to kick off Cookbook Club, and is all about getting kids to enjoy eating and making more plant-based meals.
But the Esnoufs occasionally eat meat, too, since Maz needs it once in a while to keep up her iron levels.
With all this in mind, let’s start on the top shelf, where we find peanut butter and almond butter (the latter suitable for Thomas’ daycare); dill pickles, a half can of tomato paste; and a really big jar of Kalamata olives for Greek salads, homemade pizzas and a delicious egg-and-tomato North African/Middle Eastern dish she likes to make called shakshuka. There’s also two giant bottles of ketchup; maple syrup; homemade date syrup (soak a cup of dates in a cup of boiling hot water; add a teaspoon of lemon juice; let it soak, then blitz it with a hand blender); and a giant jar of mayo—her favourite condiment ever.
Maz uses it in the usual ways, but here’s a tip you won’t forget: She also uses it to make grilled cheese sandwiches: “You put the mayonnaise on the outside before you put it on the grill, instead of doing butter … A Kiwi friend of mine, Mieke, told me about it years ago and people laugh, but it makes the best grilled cheese sandwich ever.”
Next we have a deli drawer with lots of cheeses, good for those grilled cheese sandwiches and more, along with pepperoni sticks for Thomas’ lunch and tofu.
On the middle shelf is a President’s Choice cheese fondue kit (“it does the job”); spicy Korean gochujang paste you’ll need for the tofu recipe, above, and can find at Fresh Street Market; Greek-style yogurt; some Silk Almond Coconut Blend (Maz’s favourite in coffee); leftover basmati rice; sliced bread; and a happy surprise: Two containers of her sourdough starter so she can make two loaves of bread a week. When she got them she was told you have to name them, so one is called Pierre; the other is Justin. Get it? Trudeaus; two doughs.
The bottom shelf sports some Blue Buck Ale, Tim’s fave, from Phillips Brewery in Victoria; that Molson Canadian and forgotten bottle of wine from last instalment to celebrate their citizenship ceremony; leftover banana bread and a tin of Mott’s Clamato Caesar; and some feta cheese, cukes, grapes, flaxseed and pesto.
In the produce drawer there’s a lovely assortment of fresh fruits and veggies, from avocadoes to apples, which alone would make a great meal in no time.
Now it’s onto the fridge door. And other than some eggs and more milk; a bottle of black currant Ribena—a favourite sugar fix from back in Australia; and cat food for Theo, the resident tabby whose full name is Thesaurus in keeping with a tradition Maz and her then-roommate started years ago of naming their pets for all things “dictionary” (think Oxford and Webster), it’s pretty much a dreamland of condiments for all kinds of good eating. What with everything from tomatillo salsa and Worcestershire sauce to a jar of lemon grass her mom bought to make a Singaporean-style laksa curry when she last visited from Melbourne, you’d pretty much feel like Maz does whenever she opens the door.
“There’s always something that can be made out of my fridge!”
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who would feel quite at home cooking in Maz’s kitchen.