What Do You Eat?

Pilar Martinez, Edmonton Public Library CEO
by Shawna Derksen

Pilar Martinez, Edmonton Public Library CEO
Pilar Martinez, Edmonton Public Library CEO
photo by Curtis Comeau Photography

What Do You Eat asks Edmotonians who are in the news for reasons other than food or culinary achievement what they eat. Because we know everybody wants to know—it’s the food equivalent of peeking in the medicine cabinet.

Pilar Martinez, the Edmonton Public Library’s new CEO, has a busy life overseeing EPL’s 19 branches, 700 staff members and $62-million budget and playing soccer, practising bikram yoga, running and hanging out with her husband and two teenage boys.

Q: How do you eat?
I’m a grazer. A healthy grazer. Except for the occasional, you know, chocolate … you still gotta indulge! But I definitely do eat throughout the day; not just the three meals, for sure.

Q: Do you know what your next meal will be?
No, I don’t think I know. I will decide when I get home and talk with my 15-year-old and my husband. Often my husband starts dinner or we’ll work something out together. We may even decide to go out.

Q: What do you always have in your fridge or pantry?
Fruit is a staple in our house. Bananas, that’s something that’s quick, on the way to yoga. The kids can grab one before school. Lemons. I like having carbonated water with lemon. Milk. We are frequenters of Bon Ton Bakery, so I’ll have their bread. Cheese is a big one in our house—cheese and crackers. And, you know, the usual, like eggs. Actually last night we had green onion cakes as a little appetizer and we always have that great hot chili sauce in our house. Almonds. I eat lots of raw almonds.

Q: What is your signature dish?
It’s a chicken satay that my kids love. Also, a Mexican chicken lasagna. It’s really good. Instead of tomato sauce you use salsa, it has Monterey jack cheese, and chilies. It has a real punch to it. You’ve got to like some spice if you want to eat that one.

Q: What does food mean to you?
Sometimes its fuel, like when I think about grabbing that banana before a run. I think it’s a real opportunity, though, to build relationships, to slow down, relax, and catch up. As a family we are really into Sunday dinners and make a point to sit down together a couple times a week. When out with friends, it’s a way to connect. It’s a tradition that’s really important to me. When we take the time to prepare, have friends over, start with some cheese and crackers, then the meal, it’s such a lovely way to connect.

Q. Where do you shop?
Mostly at the Valleyview IGA because it’s close to where I live and the service is fantastic. I also shop at Planet Organic, Safeway, SaveOn, but certainly our mainstay is the Valleyview IGA.

Q. How often do you eat out or get take out?
I would say, probably three or four times a week.

Q. What’s your favourite restaurant?
I like Rge Rd. I really like Bibo for wine and appies. We often go for lunch on Saturday or Sunday to the Tin Palace.

Q. Do you take lunch to work, buy lunch or go out for lunch?
I try to take my lunch to work, but I’m not very successful. I will go out and grab something to eat or will go out to meet people for lunch as well. There’s a great little café called Sequel on 100 Avenue. They serve homemade soups and salads, so especially when it’s colder, I’ll go grab a soup.

Q. What do you eat in September and October?
We have a humongous crop of tomatoes. I love tomatoes so I’ll be eating a lot of them in September. Zucchini and spaghetti squash will be in there, too.

Q. What is your comfort food, the food from your childhood you eat when you aren’t feeling well?
If I have an upset stomach, plain old chicken noodle Cup-a-Soup. And peanut butter toast feels like home.

Q. What’s your guilty pleasure— the food you love but know you shouldn’t eat?
I love chocolate! Green and Black’s organic sea salt chocolate. And red licorice.

Shawna Dirksen is an Edmonton-based freelance writer who spends the fall brainstorming exciting ways to grill, bake, steam and season copious amounts of zucchini, string beans, potatoes and carrots from her husband’s over-abundant garden while simultaneously avoiding anything that’s been pumpkin-spiced.