Thursday, November 18, 2010

Montreal Cuisine

The International Studies Association tweeted this link in the run-up to the ISA meeting in Montreal in March.  The idea, of course, is to promote Montreal as a great food town, which it is.  Unfortunately, this article tends to buy the wrong hype.  Let's consider each item on the top ten in the article:
  1. Outdoor markets--these are nice, with lots of funky stuff.  But with restrictions on what one can take across borders (as I was reminded during my Nexus card briefing), this is mostly a tourism thing and less of a buy heaps of food to bring back home thing.
  2. Poutine.  Fries, gravy, cheese curds.  I have not yet had the guts to try it.  Maybe soon.
  3. Smoked meat.  Is delicious, but not nearly as special as Montrealers would like to think.  Kind of like pastrami.  Tasty and a good lunch, but not nearly as unique as they aver.
  4. Bagels.  Um, yuck.  Give me a NY bagel anytime.  The Montreal ones are only bearable if they are freshly cooked.  If I want a pretzel, I will order a pretzel.  
  5. French cuisine.  Indeed, now we are talking.  The French food in Montreal is fantastic. It may even be illegal to do it poorly.  
  6. International flavor.  I would actually have several bullets for this one, rather than just one.  The Middle Eastern stuff (Lebanese and then some) is just the starting point.  Omitted entirely here.  Montreal really benefits from those parts of the world where the French used to be (Vietnam, Middle East, etc) which makes it a bit distinct from other big cities with "foreign" food.
  7. Chocolate.  Indeed.  Patisseries here rival those in Paris.  
  8. Cheap eats.  Indeed, unlike other major cities (Berlin, Paris, Sydney to name some I have experienced in the past couple of years), there are plenty of places that offer great food at reasonable prices.
  9. Cheeses.  I have no idea.  I am not a cheese guy despite being so very cheesy.  Yes, I went there.
  10. Maple syrup/sugaring off.  Indeed, good stuff.  One of my favorite ski areas has a little shack near the top of the mountain.  You can ski over, get a Popsicle stick and poor some maple on some snow and then wrap the snow and maple into a sweetness on a stick.

What has been omitted? 
  • Beer!  BEER!  Great beer in this town--not so much in the form of micro brew pubs (although a few exist) but that the Quebec beers and Canadian beers are excellent, even the national brands (compared to the swill that Coors, Bud, and Miller put out).  Smaller companies here put out some very fine stuff.
  • Chez Cora and its competitors.  Great breakfast places including crepes but also other stuff as well.  
Any other areas I have overlooked? [Yes, the Montrealers are going say I am wrong about smoked meat and bagels, but they can be forgiven for such foolishness] 

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