Nov 10, 2010 - Canada, Quebec, Travel    No Comments

Falafel Heaven

I was out and about with my mother today. We were sitting in the horrible Montreal traffic at 6PM, heading home, and famished when she took a detour. I didn’t think anything of it until we stopped in a near-residential neighbourhood. There, she told me we were picking up falafel and baklava for dinner!

We entered a world I had nearly forgotten existed. A Lebanese bakery with racks piled high with sweets dripping with rose water and honey and a deli counter with all manner of manaeesh. The sandwiches are made to order and authentic; I can always tell that they will be good when their maker bosses me around and makes me take ‘everything’ even though I’m not crazy about the marinated turnips!

Oh, that falafel was like finding the oasis in the desert. Perfectly spiced, coated with sesame seeds, drizzled in tahini, and resting on a bed of parsley and mint then wrapped Lebanese style in a thin pita. I realised then that, for me, the concept of ‘home’ is intimately tied with food.

Everything I ate this week convinced me that the cuisine of western and northern Canada is generally bland. The teeming mass of mixed cultures in the most populated provinces, namely Quebec and Ontario, make for dishes that electrify the taste buds. I went to a restaurant on Saturday where an option was za’atar encrusted halibut. I haven’t seen za’atar on a menu in two years!

Asian dishes, like the sushi I also had this week, are the only thing I find ‘as good’ out west, and that’s because the immigrant population out there is pre-dominantly Asian. I’m not saying there aren’t any good restaurants out there, just that the savory cuisines I took for granted growing up aren’t as readily available.

My week in Montreal has come to an end (!) and it can best be summed up as a gastronomic journey. What did I do all week? I ate! 😀

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