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North of Madness

August 15, 2017

Can I tell you how good it feels to be in Canada this week? I mean, even though I’m less than an hour over the border in Montreal, all of the madness that’s happening back in the United States feels like a million miles away.

I’ve been spending a bunch of time this summer at art museums. And while yesterday I didn’t take in any antiquities, last month at the Yale art museum there were plenty of ancient statues that had been defaced over the centuries.

Destroying works of art, regardless of how offensive they are, is not okay. The same goes for historically significant artifacts. That is not to say offensive works should remain in positions of prominence. They should not. But as a civilization, we should be concerned about them being preserved.

Sadly, I can imagine this perspective being an unpopular one among some people I otherwise admire and respect. But I’m used to being unpopular, I’m traveling in Montreal with two kids, both of whom have very different needs, desires, tastes, and temperaments.

One might even say diametrically opposed. And as a result, the eating on this trip has been anything but the traditional Montreal adventure.

When I think Montreal food, the obvious things that come to mind are smoked meat, poutine, and bagels. So far, I’ve had none of those. And it’s possible I may go the entire trip without having a bite.

The other complicating factor is that Little Miss Fussy is in orthodontics, and can neither eat hard or sticky things. Plus, I want the children to actually come back from this trip with positive memories, and not just the one of being tortured by daddy schlepping them miles away for a fried bologna sandwich at Wilensky’s.

So instead, we’ve been seeing a lot of Chinatown, because if there’s one thing my kids love it’s dumplings and buns. In that neck of the woods we’ve also explored hand pulled noodles, dragon beard candy, and some other Chinese sweets.

I’ve noticed a spot for jianbing and maybe I’ll be able to pick one up before we leave.

However, one of the things I rely upon in these eating outings is that the kids will share some of the bounty. Because that means we can order more food and get more tastes of different foods. If the children won’t go for that savory breakfast crepe, I’ll eat it myself and won’t be able to eat another bite for hours.

That’s kind of what happened when we went out for Lebanese in the student ghetto. I found a restaurant that not only made its own sweets, but also had a brick oven for making pita to order. While the kids had never tried labneh, I thought they would enjoy its creamy comfort with hot toasty bread.

Nope. Thankfully, they did go for the humus.

Later that night we returned to that same neighborhood for what was reported to be Montreal’s best soup dumplings. And indeed, they were quite good. The most impressive part was that each dumpling is made to order, and you can watch the entire process behind glass. However, the Ala Shanghai ones in Latham still have richer broth and thinner skins.

Soon, we’ll be off to Tim Horton’s. Again. Despite the obvious similarities, it’s head and shoulders above my great pink and orange nemesis back home. Plus Timmy’s has maple frosted Boston cream donuts.

I wish I could get the kids into Vietnamese flavors, the idea of eating fries with gravy and cheese curds, or dabbling in the unfamiliar. Even venturing away from pork filled dumplings to those stuffed with lamb was just short of disastrous.

Now, we’re playing it safe and enjoying the fact that we are in a city where so many delicious things from all over the world are an easy walk from our hotel. Like last night when we had a couple of the most delicious cannoli I’ve had in some time, from a random Italian place downtown.

It’s really lovely up here.

Of course, it’s summer and the weather has been stunning. And then there’s the casual ease of multiculturalism in this international community that seems to exist without the same intensity of hate and fear. Plus art. There is art everywhere.

Now it’s time to look for a Timmy’s underground as we explore subterranean Montreal on this rainy day. Wish me luck.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2017 10:17 am

    You’re being a bit oblique… are you implying the Lee statue should have stayed up?

    • August 15, 2017 10:31 am

      Ok Durham NC. I see now.

    • August 15, 2017 10:43 am

      Thanks for giving me a chance to expand upon the thoughts above. I didn’t want it to get too heavy on the food blog. But just in case there’s any confusion to where I stand, perhaps I should offer a little more context.

      Yesterday, I saw a video of a confederate statue being pulled down by protesters and smashed, with cheers from the crowd and significant support from likeminded folks in the twitterverse. And while I understand the anger, especially after one of the counter-protesters was killed, I can’t support the destruction of these statues.

      That said, I absolutely support the removal of these statues from positions of prominence. But those statues should not be destroyed. They should be preserved. Not out of reverence, but out of remembrance.

      Perhaps one day, they will find there way into a museum of racial tolerance, as we remember the barriers that needed to be overcome to get to a better place where people can truly see people as people like themselves. Right now, we’re still a long, long way from that ideal.

  2. enough already! permalink
    August 15, 2017 11:57 am

    So Daniel, can you please share the names of those restaurants you can recommend?

  3. August 16, 2017 6:28 pm

    Aww I hope you get a chance to eat some of the Montreal food that you were hoping to! That pita bread looks amazing! And I love love love hand pulled noodles. 💖

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