Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Spring Morning

In my opinion (though I'm certainly not an expert) Toronto is a gastronomic delight. Never have I been in a city that offers so much diversity, at so democratic a price point. You can, of course, frequent the posh bistros of Yorkville and spend a small fortune at the trendy restaurants and bars, but in my opinion the most satisfying food is found in more humble establishments. The authentic ethnic restaurants on Baldwin, for example, the great Cantonese places in Richmond Hill, or the excellent Indian and Italian restaurants dotted across the map.

And of course, no trip downtown is complete without a Toronto street dog. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, the Toronto street dog is to New York's as Dijon is to Heinz (please don't hate me). Today, however, I decided to forgo the meat on the street in favour of an "everything" bagel at Tim Horton's.

I know people who wouldn't be caught dead at a Tim Horton's. And, I know, it's true it's not the best quality food, but for $2.44 for a bagel and a coffee, who's gonna turn up their nose (that's Canadian dollars, by the way)? Plus the bagels are really not bad. Plus where's your Canadian pride? Yes, nevermind that there was a Hep A scare at the Timmie's near my house. NO food is immune from contamination these days (see this article). But I forgive you if you forgo Timmie's - at least you can visit the largest Canadian-owned specialty coffee retailer, Second Cup, my personal fave and Starbucks' stiffest competition in this country. Try their cranberry-apple muffin.

Anyway, after breakfast, I stopped at Whole Foods for some MSG-free bouillon cubes, organic cider vinegar, and chai tea. Then I walked nostalgically through the UofT campus, my alma mater, on my way to the charming Kensington market, where already someone had made the mistake of backing up on the narrow one-way street, traffic was at a dead-stop, and a Japanese fishmonger, a Mexican shop owner, and the Chinese truck driver were having a friendly argument about whose fault it was. I did pick up some Mexican hot sauce for Chris though, and spent some time admiring the fresh stalks of asparagus, ranging from grass-slim to chunky, boxes of fresh fiddleheads, and all sorts of exotic veggies (there was cassava in front of a Caribbean spice store).

I also took my time strolling through Chinatown and almost thought I was back in China again. Gleaming piles of cherries, gaudy dragonfruit, spiky lychees, exotic mangosteen and piles and piles of mangoes filled the fruit stalls, while at other storefronts, the pungent smells of Chinese medicine wafted out of doors and windows. I thought this sign was a cute symbol of how Chinese and Canadian culture manage to cooperate..."Lucky MOOSE Food Mart????"

After all, the diversity of our eating is a direct result of the diversity of our people, and the fact that we can enjoy so much delicious, reasonably priced food is due to the hard work of all the people who have made Canada their new home.

And I had all-you-can-eat Indian food for lunch.

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