Monthly Archives: March 2009

Thus Endeth My Life as a Poutine Virgin. And Not So Happily, I Might Add.

I tried poutine for the first time on Friday. Total and utter letdown. Granted, I had it at Swiss Chalet, the Boston Market equivalent in Canada, but still. This giant failure is analogous to someone ordering a taco at Taco Bell that doesn’t taste remotely like an actual taco.  And, as you know, I’m usually into food porn, but the dish was so foul tasting that I couldn’t even bring myself to take its photo. Also, because I was with my new boss.

What is poutine, you ask? Poutine is a French Canadian snack that, at its basic, is made with french fries (nom!), gravy and cheese curds. It’s sort of like chili-cheese fries in the States, but not so much. The word means “mushy mess” in Acadian slang and was created in 1957 in Warwick, Québec. According to the people in the know, the french fries should be hand-cut and fried in pure lard, the gravy (also known as “BBQ chicken gravy”) should be dark and thick like molasses, and the cheese curds (apparently the most important part of the dish) should be only fresh, white, cheddar cheese curds. A veritable heart attack waiting to happen, nón?

I’ve been to both Montréal and Québec City — the epicenters of French Canadian cuisine — but failed to try poutine in either city. I’m usually the über-tourist, trying every local thing I can get my hands (and mouth) on, but for whatever reason, I didn’t try the gooey dish in either place.  I’ll just have to go back.

I have heard so much about poutine in my almost two years in Canada that my expectations may have been impossibly high. So far, though, I’m disappointed. Swiss Chalet poutine = Fail!

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I love that people still use pay phones

Especially underground.

Old skool.

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One Week

This weekend, I saw what may possibly be the best Canadian movie ever made.  It made me so damn proud to be Canadian that I could hardly stand it.  And I’m American.

The film is called “One Week” and it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September to rave reviews*.  In an interview this week with CBC Radio3, the film’s writer and director Michael McGowan called it his “…love letter to the country” .  I can’t think of a more apt description, really.  You can listen to the March 3 podcast of the interview here.

The story is about a guy, played by Canadian Joshua Jackson (natch), who is drifting into a marriage and a life he’s not sure he wants.  He is diagnosed with a terminal illness (cancer) and decides to take off on a road trip instead of seeking treatment. Fantastic Canadian bands like Stars, Wintersleep and Great Lake Swimmers make up the amazing soundtrack as the main character travels west from Toronto to Tofino, British Columbia.  The scenery alone is reason enough to see the film — Canada truly is a beautiful land.  The film is a quirky and soul searching trip jam-packed full of Canadian references to most Americans won’t get, including everything from rolling up the rim of a Tim Horton’s cup to the Terry Fox monument.

Interestingly, the narrator of the movie asked the viewer more than once “What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month?”.  It got me thinking.  What would I do?  Would I crawl into the fetal position and weep?  Likely.  Would I tear off my clothes and run naked through the park screaming?  Hmmm, maybe not. I don’t know what I’d do but I’m going to think on it this week and get back to you.  I think it’s important that we think about these things and not ignore the possibilities life may lay in front of you.  But enough with the heavy.

The question also led me to look back over my blog and what I found, my dear readers, scared me!  I have over 20 entries that I’ve never published and the majority of them were rather large trips I’ve taken since I moved to Canada 21 months ago.  The horror!  A few examples:

  • Trip to Montréal
  • Trip to Quebéc City
  • Trip to Vancouver
  • Trip to Ottawa
  • Trip to Machu Picchu and Lima, Peru
  • Trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley
  • Trip to Buffalo and the Erie Canal
  • Trip to Hell and back (kid.ding)
  • A private tour of the West Wing (I saw the Oval Office!)
  • Meeting David Sedaris
  • Shooting TV commercials with cool NBA stars
  • Watching Rafael Nadal play front row at the Rogers Cup
  • Going to the Masters Tournament and being 3 feet from Tiger (!)
  • A myriad of other things about which I was too lazy to write 

What I’ve been doing all this time, I don’t know.  But I will not spare you having to wait for them much longer…look for these exciting entries very soon.  I know you can’t hardly wait.

 

*well, from what I remember.  I couldn’t get a ticket, so it must have been good.

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365 Days

I ❤ the interwebz.  I am an avid amateur photographer and love everything about photography, especially how it has the ability to capture a single image at a split second in time.  I’d love photography even more if I was actually good at it, but I digress.  I recently ran across the coolest Flickr group called “365 Days”.  It’s a project where each group member takes a self-portrait every day for 365 straight days and posts them in the group photostream.  The photo should only be taken by you, so if you know me at all, you’ll know that this is right up my alley.  I actually have a “Self Portraits” folder in my pictures file.  Finally, an outlet for all of my shameless narcissism.  

The 365 Days project is also fitting since I only have about 365 more days in Canada (sob).  I originally started my blog so I would have a snapshot of my time and adventures in Canada, and now I will have a photographic record of myself each day during my last year here, as well. 

Needless to say, I am supa-psyched.

Here are my first and second posted pictures, respectively.  Yes, I am a dork.

365 Days - Day One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9:45pm on March 7, 2009

9:45pm on March 7, 2009

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Happy Demisemiseptcentennial, Toronto!

Photo courtesy of peo pea on Flickr

Why, Toronto, you don’t look a day over 174…

On March 6, 2009, the fair city of Toronto marks its 175th birthday! I realize that in the grand scheme of things, that’s not very old; some cities have been around for millenia. For North Amercia, though, 175 is pretty old!

When Toronto was incorporated as a city in 1834, there were fewer than 10,000 people living in the town of York– mostly white and British — and Queen Street was considered the city’s northern boundary. Apparently, singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was a hangable offense in those days, too (my, how things haven’t changed – grin). Today, there are 2.7 million citizens in Toronto proper and over six million people living in the Greater Toronto Area.

A quick reflection on this feat includes 175 years of growth and change: from the nickname “Muddy York”, so named because of its unpaved, swampy streets; to “Toronto the Good” (my personal fave) named for the city’s reputation as a stern Protestant outpost in a young country; to “Hogtown”, “Hollywood North” (no, Vancouver, that isn’t you), “T.O.”, “T.dot” and after amalgamation, the “Megacity”.

Toronto is now Canada’s largest and most diverse city. Over 100 languages are spoken on the city streets. It is the economic engine of the country and one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the world. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, i.e. a subway that actually goes somewhere, real automated banking machines, and more 24 hour restaurants, thank you very much. But overall, Toronto has a true grit and an undying spirit that makes it, I think, one of the best places on the planet.

And now, I give you 175 reasons to love Toronto, courtesy of the Toronto Star. I could likely come up with 175 more. Scratch that. I could likely come up with 1,075 more.

Happy Birthday, Toronto! I love you.

Also, please warm up.

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For Once, A Proper *Rant* About Canada

As you all know, I have a major crush on Canada. I just couldn’t love it any darn more. I am seriously considering chaining myself to the Canadian flag pole at the border on March 31, 2010. The RCMP‘s are going to have to push me across, I swear.

However. Because I am not a citizen or permanent resident of this fair country, I can’t seem to get a credit card. I have been a homeowner for six years. I have had credit cards in my name since I was 16 years old (so, like, five years ago). Granted, in the States. The Canadian banks, however, consider me to have zero credit history and therefore, will not lend me any money. The banker I was dealing with actually told me that they don’t lend to people who only have work permit status, because they “might just pick up and leave the country without paying their debts”. Right. Because everyone can just pick up and LEAVE THEIR JOBS!

Look, I totally grok what they’re saying, but at least check my US credit history. I have an income after all. Give me some kind of benefit of the doubt. Something.

Don’t worry, Canada. We’re just on a small break — it’s not permanent. And, I hope you know that despite this small setback, I still love you. It’ll all get better…once you give me some damn credit!

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