Food and drink: The 100-Mile-House diet 

Or: What’s in Marlene and Max’s fridge?

You’ve heard all about the 100-mile diet, so how about the 100-Mile-House diet?

Cast your eyes north, way north, past Green Lake, past the festival fields of Pemberton, then east and north again, over the Duffey Lake Road, through Lillooet, along 99 to the junction with Highway 97 north of dry, rabbit-bush-country Cache Creek, along to cowboys’ Clinton, then up the rise onto the plateau that holds 100-Mile House, where you turn right and go east and north-ish for 30 minutes to Sulphurous Lake, so named, says our hostess, for the weird yellow spot that mysteriously appears in the water on certain sunny days.

Here is where you find (drum roll)… the meat eaters, Max (a.k.a. G. D. Maxwell) and Marlene Siemens (a.k.a The Tax Lady), and their fridge ensconced for the summer in a hip-roofed, wood-centric cabin, otherwise known as “the cottage”, as in the cottages of Ontario, where Marlene spent her early-adult years, after her earlier incarnation in southern Manitoba as a “Menno”, her word not mine for “Mennonite”.

After a thoroughly post-post-modern conversation, which rambles through software that will break out the nutritional content of food and leave you feeling too anal, the pros and cons of eating carbohydrates in general and bread in particular, including the whole wheat stuff Max makes, women’s body shapes before and after menopause, including leathery mummies and how marvelously fleshy, and sexy, Marlene Dietrich looked in her 1930 break-out movie, The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel), we come to the cottage to site the whole adventure. At least the outside of it, where one can find the quintessential reason M&M have come to this northern setting with its 100-Mile-House diet: the garden.

“I had a jones to do some gardening,” says Marlene, our hostess for the tour given that Max, the self-proclaimed agoraphobic cowboy, is off on an errand. (Having a jones for something, for those not familiar with the expression, is to have a craving for something, originally heroin, but, hey, gardening can be addicting, too.)

“My mother always had huge gardens because she had eight kids and she fed us all from home. I really feel blessed that I was able to eat lots of garden stuff. She put lots of it in the freezer, and we raised all our own animals in southern Manitoba.”

So M&M have Saskatoon berry bushes for homemade jams and syrup, an asparagus bed and a round strawberry bed. Three raised beds comprise the main veggie garden with rows of raspberries, onions, spinach, beans, potatoes, peas, lots of lettuce and mesclun mixed greens, beets for greens more than anything, carrots, and a hugely successful rhubarb plant.


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