There once was a girl who racked up $53.75 in library fines. She spent days holed up in her bedroom reading cookbooks; salivating over Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The Vegetarian Chili Cookbook and The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook while due dates continued to pass. Those great tomes might have remained in her bedroom forever if it weren’t for a little robotic message on her answering machine informing her that Julia Child’s masterpiece was several weeks overdue. So reluctantly she walked to the nearest branch, slipped the books through the return slot, and continued on her way. Unbeknownst to this naive child, late returns of books do not go unpunished, particularly when there are 153 holds placed on the literature in question.

Months down the road, her large debts to the Public Library came into play again, as she attempted to borrow The Kite Runner. “Card Suspended” flashed across the self-checkout screen in angry red letters. “Seek Assistance from Front Desk,” it advised. The librarians informed her of the fines she owed and asked if she would like to pay them. “Oh no thanks,” she gulped, and left.

If you haven’t guessed, the little girl was me. At the tender age of 13 I developed a huge amount of Library Fines due to my love affair with food and cooking. I probably would have been better off stealing a copy of Playboy. The fines on my cookbooks went unpaid for the better part of 3 years, in which I walked the long way to the mall to avoid the prying eyes of the librarians and the pangs of guilt in my stomach. It was not until last weekend that I coughed up the cash to pay my debts. While I could never show my face in the neighbourhood branch again, the library downtown had no knowledge of my past sins. It was then that I decided to hop aboard the Number 8 and brave the congested streets in City Centre.

I’ll admit, Edmonton AB, whose population just spills over the 1 million mark, is not exactly a prime example of “fast paced living” and “urban cool.” But we do what we can, and about 95% of the people living here are very amazing. (There’s a 5% minority that are kind of losers, but we don’t talk about them). We’re home to the Largest Mall in America, and a newly renovated Art Gallery. We even have pedways. The only thing we don’t have (aside from a famous tower) is Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Or rather we have it, but some 13 year old has decided to hide it under her pillow past the due date. Kids these days.

Instead of Julia Child, I walked away from Stanley A Milner Library with “Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook” and “Afghan Food and Cookery.” I then proceeded to get lost in the pedway, somehow end up inside the Citadel Theatre, eat a panini at the Three Bananas Cafe, and give a homeless man $20 because I had no small change. But I made it home eventually, recipes to come.

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