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WND – There are worse things than a reputation for being polite

May 14, 2010

My roommate and I were up in Toronto this past weekend – she was there to sort of work, I was there to play tourist. We had a good time in Toronto, miserable weather notwithstanding. All the Canadians we met kept apologizing for the weather, and swearing it was highly unusual. I haven’t decided if I believe them or not – we came to the general conclusion that we’d all move to Canada if it was just a bit warmer. Boston is as far north as I go. If I move, I’m moving south not further into the frozen wastelands of the north. On the other hand, bikers who stop and apologize when they cut you off at zebra crossings are a compelling inducement. At the risk of perpetuating a cliché, the Canadians really are awfully friendly and polite. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just that when you come from New England where nobody makes eye contact with strangers on the street if they don’t have to, it’s a little disconcerting.

Toronto itself is this odd mix of utilitarian modern buildings interspersed with charming – if somewhat dilapidated – Victorian row houses.  It’s like they haphazardly tore the city down in the 60s/70s and rebuilt it around the buildings of the people who wouldn’t sell – which actually is more or less, I think, exactly what happened.

It is very neighborhood driven – but small, very walkable neighborhoods.  The first day we were in town we wandered down to the St. Lawrence market hall in the heart of the city and peered at all the cheese displays, tasted incredibly spicy mustards, and stared at the sides of hanging meat in awe. We caved to our better angels and bought some raisin/pecan/rosemary crackers to go with some local cheeses and happily munched on them for the rest of the weekend. I lamented (again) over the lack of anything similar in Boston since they renovated and repurposed Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall into a Covenant Garden kind of area rather than a Ferry Building/St. Lawrence kind of market. Although, possibly it’s actually for the best that I don’t have a market packed with cheese vendors and bakeries and butchers 10 minutes from my office because I think I’d spend every lunch hour there if I did.

We also wandered around the Kensington market area which has successively been the center for a variety of immigrant populations, starting with Eastern European Jews and cycling through Asian, Latin American, and Northern African populations – the upshot of which is that there is every kind of ethnic food you can think of all butted up next to each other along with a weird and wonderful variety of small shops and galleries. I’m convinced there must be a neighborhood like this in Boston, I just haven’t found it yet.

Contrary to the suggestions of just about every man I work with, we did not take in a hockey game while we were there (although we did walk by the Hockey Museum). Instead, we went to the Bata Shoe Museum, which garnered pained looks from the men at work when I told them, but was in fact wonderful. I think it’s one of the best museums I’ve been to in a long time – all about the history of shoes and the intersections between fashion and economic and social history. Sadly they weren’t selling replicas of any of the shoes they had on display, because while I can’t think of a particular use for the Breton chestnut crushers, I can think of a lot of reasons I’d want to wear the red brocade 17th C court shoes that were on display.

I also went to the Royal Ontario Museum – which was nice, but suffered in comparison to the Bata because it just wasn’t as well designed.  I spent a pleasant hour futzing around the First Nations hall, but kept wanting them to place the different tribes geographically, and to have more of a sense of flow through the room.  Possibly the most interesting thing about the ROM is the renovation/addition they did to the exterior – which is this giant modern glass angular structure that more or less sits in front of the old 19th C museum.  Surprisingly, I actually kind of like it, although I’m not sure I would if I lived there. I would, I’m sure, be appalled if they did that to the MFA in Boston.

More pictures from Toronto (although not many because the weather really was grey and wet), including several that look like I took a side journey back to Bryn Mawr, but are in fact from a quad at the University of Toronto.

The practical upshot of all of this wandering and museuming in Toronto is that we didn’t get home until late Sunday night. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to Wilson Farms to go grocery shopping because they close to early for me to get there after work, so the weekend before we left I carefully planned my menus for the next two weeks to minimize the amount of fresh ingredients I’d have to buy from the Stop-n-Shop, because I am apparently now exactly that much of a food snob. Don’t worry, I’m appalled at myself. Corn pudding and chicken fingers is my go-to dinner of choice for weeks when I have no time to do advance cooking on Monday night and don’t have many appealing vegetable options to choose from at the grocery store. It can all be made on Wednesday night in a little over an hour, and nobody at Dinner has ever complained about being served corn pudding.

Corn Pudding
Coconut Crusted Chicken Fingers
Green Beans
Salad

Corn Pudding

The blog says I haven’t made corn pudding since last July.  That can’t possibly be true can it?

Recipe previously given:   Corn Pudding & Other Gateway Drugs

Coconut Crusted Chicken Fingers

Flour
2 eggs
¼ cup coconut milk (optional, can be replaced with milk or left out entirely)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
2 lb chicken breasts, cut into lengths

Place the flour in one shallow bowl.

Lightly beat the eggs with the coconut milk in another shallow bowl.

Toss the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut together in another shallow bowl.

Pat the chicken dry then toss in flour, dip in egg mixture and coat with coconut/bread crumbs. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before frying.

Salt and pepper to taste while frying in some butter/oil.

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