Saturday, August 22, 2009
We have just spent a delightful few days with friends at their “cottage” in the Laurentians in Quebec. They are foodies and the experience was delicious. Crêpes, Montreal bagels and baguettes, cheeses to die for (including one called “Anglo Saxon” - I don't even want to know why), local wine, beer and cider, espresso, homemade gazpacho, and throughout it all, glorious fresh fruits and vegetables. We had a similar experience with friends in Toronto and again in Ottawa. Actually in Ottawa, as I gazed up agape at the chalkboard menu of a funky organic restaurant, my friend Lisa said I looked like I was seeing a DaVinci painting for the first time.
This was because we have spent a lot of time in small rural Canadian towns, and here comes the irony. In small farming communities, you won’t be served fresh fruits or vegetables. There will be lot’s of fried options, there will be both kinds of bread (“white or brown?”) there will be Coca Cola, but the only thing vaguely green will be a pale piece of iceberg lettuce. I finally realized that places that advertise themselves as serving “homestyle cooking” don’t bear any resemblance to what my friends or I would cook at home.
Picture Perfect Montreal Lunch
I’ve read that a low income is a strong indicator for an unhealthy weight. And while I have found that restaurant prices may be slightly higher in high rent areas, the difference really hasn’t been significant. That may be because the deveggified restaurant food tends to come in huge portions. The rural restaurant portion sizes assume that I will be spending my afternoon tossing around 50 pound bales of hay or pulling a plow through rocky prairie soil. The result of this kind of eating, along with all the sitting involved with driving across the country, is a couple of British Columbians who are having more difficulty fitting into their trousers.
Do vertical photos make my butt look fat?
But it’s not just us. As we have travelled across the country, the experience has been quite similar everywhere. There are a lot of fat people in the country and a lot of slim people in the cities. Part may be fashion consciousness, but as I witness people using their ATV to get down their driveway to empty their mailbox, I can’t but come to the conclusion that the whole rural work-hard ethic doesn’t really result in getting physical activity. It’s just too easy to jump into the car. And in the cities, it’s a pain in the ass to jump in the car. Just try to find parking, and when you do it’s expensive.
Toronto - I counted 16 lanes
A Toronto dirt-filled sedan – a use for cars in the future?
an Ottawa artist gets his exercise balancing heavy rocks
Or is all this just my own snobbishness? Is expecting greenery beyond coleslaw at a meal just another form of elitism? A woman told me she was a “coffee snob too” when I asked if espresso was available anywhere in town.
We've just headed into a more rural Quebec, so I'll be able to see if the theory holds. After all, everything sounds better in French.
Monday, August 10, 2009
In his book, “Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw,” Will Ferguson’s thesis is that
If you're a Mennonite: is it a sin to be proud of your bull?
We visited the Doukabours, who moved here from
Bison Skull painted by Metis Artist Neil Fehr:
Hitting a quarter at 20 paces:
Caution: Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear
Then there are the fervently non-Canadian “Northwest Angle” inhabitants. Not familiar with the Northwest Angle? Go to the most southerly portion of
Jim's Corner: Shack and Telephone
Aside: The border crossing into the Northwest Angle is bizarre. For one thing you need to go down about 100 km of dirt road to get there. Then you see the sign, "Welcome to the United States." Further down, the next sign, " YOU MUST CHECK IN WITH THE US AUTHORITIES TO ENTER THE US". Further down, the next sign, "US IMMIGRATION AND CONTROL AT JIM'S CORNER." Then, "JIM'S CORNER 8 KM." so you're basically an illegal entry for 8 more km. Then you get to Jim's Corner, which is, a corner, a crossroads of 2 dirt roads and a little white shack. In the shack is a telephone. Press the left button to call USA authorities. Press the right button to call Canadian Authorities as you leave. Homeland Security is hard to take seriously in these circumstances. We brought our passports for this?
I was beginning to think that each of these groups was good at seeing how others had impacted their lives, typically negatively, but had a blind spot regarding their impact on everyone else. The cultural museums that we visited showed each group's struggles to survive in a harsh landscape and showed their beautiful crafts and ingenuity. But a lot of these groups were living within the same territories and I wondered how did the (fill in the blank) feel about these newcomers who settled these lands.
How baby Kleenex are made:
Then our entry into
Just a thought.
Wolfskin and 50 Fox tails reduced to tacky souvenirs