OPL Guest Blogger – Stéphanie Plante – Main branch

04/07/2018

Stéphanie Plante is an OPL guest blogger and a great library supporter. In 2017, she and her son Ian visited all 33 branches of the Ottawa Public Library. Discover OPL through Stéphanie’s regular posts during the course of the year!

When I first moved to Ottawa in 2005, I worked downtown in a tower on Laurier Street. Fresh off my Master’s degree, I had student loans and a flip phone. Natasha Bettingfield’s “Unwritten” was on frequent rotation on my CD player. The Simple Life was my favourite reality show, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, and Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq were dominating the headlines.

Many lunch hours were spent at Main branch of the Ottawa Public Library.  Conveniently located for all the public servants downtown, this branch is very much like a lot of buildings in Ottawa: unassuming from street level, yet marvellous and stimulating once you step indoors. It offers many public talks, a musical instrument lending library, and a “Features” section that is aligned with current events (June 2018 focuses on books about soccer and the World Cup). Too broke for restaurants and with a kitchen the size of a closet, I did what all 20-somethings do at some point when the frozen dinners and ramen are no longer appealing: I learned to cook. At the time, boiled eggs and Kraft Dinner was my idea of haute cuisine and thanks to the Main branch, I was quickly disabused of this fallacy.*

The Main branch was ahead of the food literacy movement. If you haven’t paid a visit recently, it’s probably because you have heard the news that the branch is moving. Fear not! The move will not be for a few years, meaning many workshops, public events, community story-times, and language classes will still continue at the same spot. Your foodie paradise, for now, is staying put.

If it were up to me, my kitchen, pantry, shelves, bathtub and sock drawer would be full of cookbooks but given space constraints, the Main branch is the place to get your cookbook fix. There is the typical Jamie Oliver \ Ina Gartner \ Martha Stewart \ Anthony Bourdain classics as well as lots of good advice on meal planning. There are books for cooking on a budget, vegans, gluten-free, gluten free vegans, Bollyfood, Burmese, Thai, a hybrid of Lebanese, Morrocan and Persian cookbook called Pomegranates and Pine Nuts. You can find cookbooks from celebrities you haven’t heard from in a while (Jenny Jones!), books for cooking while pregnant, running or decorating cupcakes (at one point in my life I was doing all three!).  There are books for your gadgets such as your slow cooker, InstaPot or even cooking with just a microwave. My personal favourite is the Simple series in French and English.

Hungry yet?

Of course, if the cookbooks you’re eyeing aren’t immediately available there is always the reliable interlibrary loan . But when you have three shelves at one branch all dedicated to chocolate, I think you will find something to satisfy your cravings.

So before it moves to a bigger location, skip the ordering-in or expensive take-out and head to the second floor of the Main branch and start conjuring the meal of your dreams. Just try not to go on an empty stomach or else you risk getting a bicep workout while checking out your choices.

*although I won’t lie. Kraft Dinner still makes it onto to my monthly meal planning!