there are so many different cultures here, hence, many fantastic (and new to me) cuisines. they have tunisian restaurants, ethiopian restaurants, inuit restaurants and everything in between.
caribana, a two-week cultural explosion of caribbean music, cuisine, revelry as well as visual and performing arts, is in its 40th year it has become a major international event. apparently, it’s the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America (http://www.caribanafestival.com/). the city has been packed with people going to caribana and i’ve heard that over 1 million people attended this year. it was great for me, not only to see the multiple cultures it represented, but to try some fantastic foods! i ate jerk chicken for the first time – it was so spicy that my lips almost burnt off – plantains with sweet cheese and grilled, spiced corn on the cob. again, it was quite spicy and i almost ripped the fire extinguisher from the wall next to me and asked the hot fireman to help put out my fire. the corn ended up being my favorite of all the foods as evidenced by the picture below. as you can see, this is definitely not a date food!
i made a trip to wal-mart recently, due to the sad absence of target in canada. at home, i wasn’t the biggest chip eater – my thing is definitely sweets, as you all know – but i was shocked at the sheer number of different chip types on the chip aisle here. seriously, i have never seen anything like it. i’m told by people in the know that it’s a “midwest thing” (ok, i guess toronto is sort of midwest) and that evidently, this part of north america consumes the largest amount of chips anywhere. i believe it. this is just a sampling of the chip flavors i’ve seen:
– dill pickle
– sweet chili heat
– jalapeno cheddar
– chili cheese lime
– zesty cheddar
and those are just the doritos brands that i could remember. it’s very interesting – i tried the tandoori chips and true to their name, they are very spicy. i can only imagine the quantity of chemicals i’m ingesting from eating these fancy chips.
i found another great brunch place. when i first got here, i didn’t think brunch was such a big thing in T.O. boy, was i wrong! they are very big into brunch here and if you don’t get to the good places early, the queues are very long. i went french this week and tried le petit dejeuner for brunch (http://www.petitdejeuner.ca/. the owner is belgian but grew up in france. lemme tell ya – the belgian waffles are authentic and to die for! in the spirit of trying more than one thing when i find new places, i also had the croque monsieur which was also fantabulous. for dinner, i ate at jules, a french restaurant near my house – V. good nutella crepes (see, i do have a sweet tooth). the steak frites were really good here, too. (http://www.yummybaguette.com/magasin.php-id=159.htm)
rounding out my food edition was a trip to the “taste of the danforth” (http://www.tasteofthedanforth.com/6tastlist.html). there is an area in T.O. called greektown, although rumor has it that no greeks actually live there anymore as they have been ousted by the urban professional yuppies. the festival is basically a huge street party – the city closes the streets and hundreds of vendors come out selling all kinds of greek foods (and others too – i actually saw someone selling churros and it felt like home for just a split second). we made our way down the danforth eating things on sticks and had a ball. i tried mousaka, baklava (heavenly!), souvlaki, spinach pie and loukemades. they also have a hot sauce store with over 200 kinds of hot sauces – i have a friend in houston who would love the place, as they encourage sampling so you can get your heat on (and not a la glenn frey)! oddly, they also sold “mad cow jerky” there – i didn’t think that was too funny.
as the evening went on, people would spontaneously break out in greek song and start dancing, locking arms and spinning around in circles just like on “my big fat greek wedding”. we held court at the beer garden listening to the greek bands that were playing and finally made our way home after eating and drinking for 5 hours, with proof of our attendance down the fronts of our shirts.
overall, i am feeling well. some days, i wish i could snap my fingers and be in houston. sadly, since i can’t seem to find my ruby slippers, i’ll have to settle for visitors coming here for now. i’ll be home in october and am thoroughly looking forward to it and seeing all of you.
much love to you all,
new word of the week = rye. this is what canadians call whiskey or jack daniels. they’ll order a “rye & diet” at the bar.