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February 16, 2006


Oh, how wonderful a life you lead here, Beth! This reminds me so much of Europe, where people have tiny fridges and do their shopping every day, in the outdoor markets and the little shops! Indeed, North American cities have been planned around the car and big supermarkets. Now planners are struggling to design communities like you describe but it isn't easy to get people out of their cars, I'm guilty too! I too remember the old neighbourhoods of my childhood where you could walk to the sotre and the post office and the shoemaker and meet your neighbours. Sigh, you've made me nostalgic, Beth, thank you!

Beth, this is lovely, "taking care of one's food at a walking pace". So evocative and descriptive. I don't run a car here in London so much of my shopping is daily and all of it is on foot. However, I am probably more tied to the supermarket than I would like to be in a perfect world. And while I do sometimes envy those who can just put everything in the boot of the car and drive off, mostly I appreciate the chance it gives me to walk, to slow down. If the load is not too heavy I might take the longer route home via the common and look at the trees and grass as I walk ....

Thank you for giving me the chance to be appreciative of how lucky I actually am in this respect.

You're making me want to move...

Incidentally, I think you'll enjoy this essay on the complicated social/ethnic divisions of Montreal (found at wood s lot):

Here's another vote for "making me want to move." I thought that being able to acquire food in this fashion was something for days gone by. Everything now is too spread out to do anything well - you just have to do it quickly and cheaply. Even our "farmers market" here is a joke - it's all imported apples from Washington, peaches from Georgia. It's just a convenience culture. I have known for awhile that I need to move to Canada, but with all your roots, friends and jobs you love in Texas, it's hard to get out :(

Marja-Leena and Mary: I do feel very fortunate, and please realize that there are plenty of Montrealers who run to the supermarket - and have to - just like people everywhere else. We've made the compromise of a small apartment in a higher-rent area in order to live in this sort of neighborhood. There are others like it in the city, but suburban/convenience living is here too, encroaching on the old fashioned ways.

L-H: Thanks! That's a REALLY interesting article. He lives to the east of me, not far.

Andrea: lots of empathy from me. It is nearly impossible to uproot oneself completely - we certainly haven't done it, because our work and our families are still in the U.S. We're lucky to live 3 1/2 hours from the border so we can live this dual lifestyle right now. I'd encourage you to investigate your options, though. Canada is a wonderful country and not all of it is as cold as Montreal!

I love this kind of shopping. Going from place to place. Discovering. It's one of the things I love about Europe and one of the things I wish I could transplant back to America.

Great post! I love Montreal. I think you were in the part of town called the Main. There is a good novel about that part of the city called "The Main" by Trevanian. I would like to go to Ben's Deli right now! It is downtown if it still exists.

I love it when you wrote, "......it was the whole shopping experience this way, from store to store, slowly, anticipating finding surprises, that threw menu planning into happy disarray."
Sounds like you are in heaven on earth, a place that set you heart beat at tranquility rate.

It's interesting because we lived that lifestyle in Chicago but now live the suburban life in Montreal. But is was similar more for the pedestrian aspect than the culinary. Luckily I work near that area of the Plateau, so I can spend lunches during the summer over there browsing.

Maison du Roti is a godsend. I can't get enough of their sausage and pate. I grew up in a German neighborhood of a city that was big on bratwurst so I was ecstatic to find that place.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.