Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Guilty Canadian Eating Pleasures

As a university student, I am currently on my winter break from school. YAY. This is a good thing, as I now have lots of time for baking. I have been staying with my parents in Canada for the past week or so, and on Monday I was supposed to fly to Florida (where I grew up) to visit all the people I grew up with and such, since I don’t go back to school until next Monday. So on Sunday, I did what I always do the day before I have to fly, and that is stay up all night packing and baking and eating and watching movies. I leave the sleeping for when I am on the plane. But this time, the plane part didn't happen - practically every flight out of the airport was cancelled due to fog.

I was disappointed and tired, but still in pretty happy since I had never seen fog + snow before, and it is a beautiful combination. When the fog lightened up, it was barely noticeable, except in the places where there was snow, and there it would seem to linger, giving the illusion that the snow was being drawn up and fading into the sky. Amazing. I was even so inspired that, when I got home, I made myself some hot, frothy, frangelico and hazelnut infused milk. Somehow, the look of the frothy milk reminded me of the snow and fog. Unfortunately, at this point my camera had run out of batteries and my parents had already left town, with the car, so I had no means of obtaining batteries or taking pictures of anything – which is why I am instead describing the beauty in such detail. (The pictures I am posting with this were taken earlier on my trip)

Even more flights were cancelled the next day, leaving me still stranded in Ottawa. But this time, I had no food and couldn’t bake anything, since I had cleaned out the fridge of anything perishable (my parents wouldn’t be back for two months). I was tired from the two days of barely any sleep, I was fed up after 4 cancelled flights, and couldn’t even understand why the last one was cancelled since I could see no fog. And I was hungry. Starving. And when I opened my fridge I would see the ketchup and the lonely jar of jam, mocking me because I had nothing to eat them with. So I said, "Screw this, I’m only in Canada for one more day; I’m going to go eat some poutine!"

Poutine is something I had never heard of before my parents moved to Canada, and when I first heard of it, I admit that I thought it sounded disgusting. But I really shouldn’t have, because it is one of the most delicious guilty food pleasures I know of! It consists of a bunch of greasy French fries covered in melty cheese curds and drenched in beef gravy. You can usually find stands (like hot dog stands) on the streets in Ottawa that sell poutine, but it is so popular that they even have places specializing in poutine in pretty much every mall food court up there.

So I walked around downtown eating poutine and stomping in the now slushy snow, and then I got some Timmy’s, which is what we call food from Tim Horton’s, a Canada specific (I think) chain that sells coffee and doughnuts. To make a comparison, I’d say that Tim Horton’s is even more popular in Canada than Starbucks is in the States. Not only are they everywhere, but at any given time you can look in any direction and see someone carrying a Timmy’s cup. No lie. And they’re popular with kids, too, because of their wonderful pastry and doughnut selection. Their chocolate doughnuts are the best tasting doughnuts I have ever had, and I am a doughnut connoisseur. But my favorite thing to get when I go is a french vanilla cappuccino and a maple pecan danish. The thing I love most about this chain is that they don’t have the fancy, expensive feel of other coffee shops, nor the cheap, tacky feel of places like Dunkin Doughnuts. To me, going to Timmy’s is comforting. Always cheap, and wonderfully delicious at the same time. There is nothing like a Timmy’s French vanilla, in which I can barely taste the coffee but know it’s there because it accentuates the vanilla with its toasty nuttiness. And the maple pecan Danish – a light, flaky pastry filled with sweet maple goodness, with toasted pecan halves on top. The combination never fails to make me smile.

So if you ever find yourself in Canada, make sure you take advantage of the popular street food and coffee shops, because you really can’t get the same thing anywhere else. I'm glad that this is what I decided to do with my extra day in Canada-land!

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