A Damn Fine Food Weekend

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The heat is intense, these days. It fills your head, slides damply over your skin. Some days, it’s all anyone can talk about or think about. At a bus stop, a woman told me how she keeps cool at night – a cold shower, just before going to bed. It was such an intimate story, in a way.

It requires creativity, this heat. It demands strategy. What can we eat, that will require the least amount of movement? We try to find cool, breezy, or distracting places in the hot, steamy city, and foods that are light yet satisfying.

Last weekend – the long Canada Day weekend – saw particularly good eatin’ for The Guitar Player and myself. The heat inspired us!

On Friday, as the month of June came to a close, it became evident that we had to have lobster. It’s a June thing! The Guitar player was duly dispatched, and arrived at my door with a huge, mysterious brown package. She heroically took on the grisly task of cooking the live crustaceans. It was only then that we realized that we had no implements.

“I’ve done this before,” I said, uneasily. “I lived in Nova Scotia for god’s sake!” I was trying to sound both cosmopolitan and wise.

“Wasn’t that twenty-five years ago?” asked the Guitar Player, less than tactfully.

Actually, it was longer than that, but I didn’t correct her. “Um, I think we can do it with a hammer,” I replied, uncertainly. I pulled out my huge red toolbox.

The Guitar Player shook her head woefully, like she saw disaster coming and no way would she be able to stop it, and went outside for a smoke. I set to work. It wasn’t pretty.

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It wasn’t long before we were pulling huge chunks of sweet, tender meat from the rosy pink shells, while sitting at a table covered with newspaper. Garlic butter, grill-baked potatoes, and corn were the only accompaniment those lobsters required. I made a salad: we didn’t even touch it.

The next day, was the cherry party (see below), which required that we go to Kensington Market for provisions. I led the Guitar Player to a small Mexican grocery with a kitchen in the back, where we ordered chicken tamales and cheesey pupusas. It took an age for the food to get made, and then we had to stand on the crowded, steamy street to eat it. But ahhh – it was soulful, heartfelt, tasty food!

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The day after that, I announced that it was high time we went to India Town. It’s a half hour streetcar ride from my house. After a certain amount of prevarication, the Guitar Player rendezvoused with me on the 505 car.

We got off at Lahore Tikka House, a huge complex with multiple rooms, its own naan oven, and a charmingly unkempt patio. We both felt like we’d left town for the day. We began that day’s foodfest with mango lassi, a sweet, cool, slippery and delectable experience. The food arrived soon enough: cauliflower korma, lamb kebab, and tandoori chicken. And naan bread, of course. I’ve had better chicken, the kebabs were fine, and the korma delicious, if alarmingly greasy. I think there’s better Indian food to be had closer to home, like Trimurti on Queen Street West. But the riot of colour, and the street life – overflowing boxes of mangos, grilled corn vendors, sari stores – has no rival in this city. It’s great to feel the diasporic energy of the city swirling around you; it changes your sense of self, if only for an afternoon.

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It was a damn fine food weekend.

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