Medea Kalantar immigrated to Toronto when she was just four years old. Growing up in this city, she was naturally exposed to the many cultural offerings this city had to offer. Through this city’s treasure trove of people from all corners of the earth came her inspiration for a sweet new children’s book series.
Kalantar introduces readers to a diverse, multicultural family that is full of love. In her first book, Honeycake: A Family of Spices, she tells a story through a grandmother’s perspective and imagination, detailing how each delicious ingredient represents a different family member and his or her unique ethnic background. The book highlights and celebrates diversity, multiculturalism and families of all different backgrounds.
Medea was inspired to write these books when she learnt that she was becoming a grandmother. Her stories are all based on her own family, whose members come from many ethnic backgrounds.
We had the opportunity to ask her more:
Why did you start with honeycake as the recipe for your first book in the series?
MK: When I found out I was going to be a Grandma, it was a full circle moment for me. My Bebi who was my grandmother on my mom’s side, taught me how to bake a honey cake when I was a little girl. So, I started to bake a honey cake in honour of my Grandmother. As I was making the cake, I realized all the different spices the cake had, like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, brown sugar and honey. It made me think of all the different ethnic mixes my new grand baby would have and how they would be just like this honey cake I was baking. That’s where the title of the series came from and the idea for the first book that would introduce the readers to our entire family. Hence, Honeycake: A Family of Spices. The words and stories started to pour out of me. I wrote five books in four days.
Some of our fondest memories are made in the kitchen, tell us about one of yours?
MK: One of my fondest memories are when my Bebi, my mom Rima, my daughter Shanaz and I, were all in the kitchen getting a big dinner ready for a family gathering. The music was playing, there was a delicious aroma of all the different foods that was cooking on the stove and in the oven. As I watched everyone singing and dancing while we were cooking…in that moment I was struck with such awe and gratitude of what a beautiful moment this was. Here we were four generations of women with different beliefs, different cultural upbringing, different skin tones, all bringing our uniqueness with such pride, love and unity. I think cooking with your children is a great bonding experience and provides practical and essential skills such as reading, following directions and measuring. Getting involved in cooking helps children to develop fine motor skills, eye hand coordination, and even early concepts of math and science, not to mention that it’s also fun!!! So, I plan to do a lot of cooking with my grandchildren.
This is more than just a recipe to share with families, there are ingredients here for life. Tell us more?
MK: Just like the ingredients in this honey cake we can teach our children about diversity and acceptance because even though we look different and come from different places, we are all part of one race…THE HUMAN RACE. In this beautiful world we live in, WE ARE ALL ONE. My hope is that if we instill these valuable lessons to our youth at an early age, we can shift the universe into a positive direction.
We’re fortunate to live in such a diverse city. What are some of your favourite things to see or do in Toronto?
MK: I’m so grateful and proud to live in such a diverse city like Toronto that is so rich with multiculturalism. I’ve being going to events like Caribana and Soca or Die since I was in my late teens. I passed the torch down to my children who now attend these events every year. Our favourite things to do are going to fun family events like the Taste of Lawrence, Taste of Danforth, going to Chinatown and Little Italy. But our all-time favourite thing to do as a family is, going to the Exhibition to celebrate the end of summer and experiencing the vibrant mix of international flavours in the food building. How beautiful it is seeing the diverse ethnicities all under one roof in such unity.
Author Medea Kalantar releases Honeycake: A Family of Spices, the first installment of the brand-new children’s book series. This charming book also includes a recipe and step-by-step instructions on baking your own delicious batch of honey cake. Each book in the series offers valuable life lessons and gives parents and children the tools to overcome some obstacles in their everyday lives. It also celebrates different cultural backgrounds.
Honeycake: A Family of Spices is now available on Amazon and will be available at Indigo/Chapters soon.