In 1989, twenty-three-year-old Margot Fedoruk left Winnipeg and her volatile Slavic-Jewish family for the wilds of BC to work as a tree planter and to contemplate her mother’s untimely death from cancer. There, she met Rick Corless, a burly, red-headed sea urchin diver, and soon found herself pregnant and cooking vegetarian meals for meat-eating divers on Rick’s boat, The Buckaroo, as they travelled along the rugged northern BC coastline.
Eventually, the unlikely couple settled on Gabriola Island to raise two girls, dig for clams, keep chickens, clean houses, and make soap to sell at the local market. As she washed windows with stunning ocean views, Margot also wiped away lonely tears, determined not to repeat the same mistakes as she had witnessed during her parents’ marriage made in hell. Through dark humour, vivid descriptions, and quirky characters, Margot’s reflections on marriage, motherhood, isolation, food, and family paint an unforgettable portrait of a modern-day fishwife left behind to keep the home fires burning. True to its title, Cooking Tips for Desperate Fishwives is a memoir infused with recipes, from the hearty Eastern European fare of Margot’s childhood to more adventurous coastal BC cuisine.