Saturday, August 22, 2009

Becoming Higher Caliber People

We have come across so many ironies in our travels, that I am considering just making a list of them all. Maybe that will be a future blog. The one that’s been on my mind for a while is about food.

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.

1 comment:

  1. travel is broadening!
    flamenco it off when you get home