Monday, May 31, 2010

Food Mayors Like

I’ve started reading the National Post with some regularity because we get copies of the paper at work. I’m a sucker for their design, use of illustration and even a decent dose of humour.

There is, however, a little twinge of smug superiority whenever I open the paper. That’s because last fall, a few of my friends and I applied for internship positions at the Post. They had reporter positions through the different sections, and copy editing spots. Time passed and they emailed our internship coordinator to tell him that they weren’t interested in hiring any of us because (I’m paraphrasing here) we didn’t have daily experience and we didn’t want to write about business.

So besides the fact that internships are generally important for getting such experience, and that at least one of us had worked at a large daily, the smug superiority comes from the copy editing errors that I keep finding (Come on: “slinger” instead of “singer” on the Arts front?). But enough about work!

Here comes the (just barely) food part of this mashup!

The Post interviewed a few mayors at the Federation of Municipalities conference in Toronto. The brief Q&As are pretty similar in their queries: What do you envy about Toronto? If you had to, where would you move? What food best represents your city? How do you spell South Dildo?

Bronco wasn’t included in the article, but I just imagine his answers were the same as Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel’s answer; that is, he doesn’t envy anything about Toronto, and has challenges with the oil industry. Probably would say beef is more iconic than perogies though.

The worst response was Pat Fiacco in Regina. He said they have the best pizza in the country (that’s certainly debatable). And then he said that Regina is like a panda bear: “They’re adorable and charming.” Hey, Pat! They’re also ridiculously poorly evolved animals: the stomach of a carnivore, but they eat undigestible bamboo; they have to eat all day because they can’t process the bamboo properly; they can’t live together because they can’t afford to share food; the females are only able to conceive three days a year; if they miraculously find a mate on one of those three days AND they conceive, they have twins, but only raise the least-runty one, and leave the other one to die.

I’m not sure what the Saskatchewan metaphor should be with those facts in mind, but I just thought it was important to put that information out there.

Gregor Robertson in Vancouver said that the city’s most iconic food is wild sock-eye salmon. He then went on to say that if Vancouver was an animal, it would be a wild sock-eye salmon: “it serves a lot of roles in our city.”

OK, it made me laugh heartily inside my head.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cafés and Employment

I am sitting in a coffee shop with a dark, burly Americano between me and my keyboard. This simple ritual is fast becoming a favourite. I’m staying open-minded about the elements of the ritual, though. It doesn’t have to be a strict equation of me + coffee + coffee house. I’ve explored me + two pints + Neapolitan pizza, and that was just fabulous.

As I was saying, I am sitting in a coffee shop. It’s one of many in this little neighbourhood that is so well-known for its lattes, tea shops and hippies. But today, Vendome wins out thanks to @ugonnaeatthat’s latest blog post.

I made my way over here, following a path behind the C-Train tracks, and past a small flock of ravenous pigeons. The café is furnished with dark wood tables and chairs, and a panoramic photo of historic Calgary. This is the second time I’ve visited now. Last time I had a mocha, and to be quite honest it was no better than a mocha from Second Cup. But this time, I indulged in a $6.95 croissant sandwich with spinach, mushrooms, emmenthal and gruyere to go with my Americano. Now, I’m stuck in this delightfully drawn-out eating affair where I feel like I could eat the crisp and soft and buttery slab of glee in the time it takes to shotgun a can of Lucky Lager. But I've managed to control that side of myself and the one that's won out is the side that wants to cut the sandwich into dainty pieces — with this ineffectual butter knife —and savour every bite.

Okay, poetry over. I finished eating my sandwich.

Today, a Friday, marks the last day of official unemployment for me, at least for a few weeks. And friends, there is so much good about this job (she says, before working a single hour). It’s journalism-related, I got it thanks to a recommendation from one of my profs and it requires my brain. While typing up a job-hunt spreadsheet earlier this week, I started to consider serving and bartending positions, because I did spend nearly three years cultivating those skills before being booted out of the bar. But I am very thankful that this new job is based on a rather different skill set that has cost me thousands of dollars to develop over the past four years.

I like to call it a “real-person” job, at least to whatever extent you can call journalism a “real” job. Maybe “real” is the wrong adjective, because of course it’s literally real. Any fellow journalists will know what I mean. In this context, I mean it’s a job where I go to a place and do a thing — or things — for a bunch of consecutive hours. Often while sitting in a chair. That makes it sound boring, but I am really excited.

You may soon be treated to posts about what I pack in my lunch box. How cute will that be?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Contemplating the grocery bill

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about my lack of productive writing. What is inspiring about a flashing cursor and an off-white window frame in OS X? ( It’s OS 10.4 by the way, I’m still taming the Tiger up in here)

Right now I’m reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

At parts, I can hardly make my way through it. That’s not a reflection of the writing, because the writing is beautiful:

I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel love about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby—I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it’s mine. Because is looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to—I just don’t care.

I’m on page 45 and that quote is from 42. Maybe it’s weird that I chose that quote because a) I can’t relate to the travel bit or the baby bit, and b) I don’t remember reading it, even though I certainly read around it while eating lunch in a cute café this afternoon. I really do like it though.

But I am having severe trouble staying focused on this book that is written so much like I would write it (had I the skill, of course, and hopefully minus the crippling depression that hung over the first couple dozen pages). I suppose it is because Liz (she calls herself that, so I feel like I should, too) is being so personal that I’m inclined to mull over my own life decisions. For me, there’s not a whole lot to reflect upon at 21, but there is a very significant and encouraging outlook.

And not to suddenly change the mood, but damn I need to invest myself in the job hunt. How about Monday? In the intervening hours, let’s ruminate on my latest grocery purchase. I am going to be honest, in the spirit of Ms. Gilbert, because this was not a well-planned grocery outing…

I’ll start at the top with that lovely romaine lettuce. I bought it Monday and haven’t sampled it yet. Yeah. The tomatoes; I’ve managed to eat 90 per cent of both of them, but the last bits are stored together in a Ziploc container, awaiting something better. On their left (our right) are a couple of cans of soup because it was snowing the day I went shopping and I kind of wanted soup. Apparently I wanted soup enough to stand in the soup aisle ruminating for 15 minutes, but not enough to actually eat the soups, which remain in my pantry, but at least they're not perishable like my romaine.

may3 groceries

Then there’s my deodorant.

I mostly bought the frozen OJ because I had white wine-citrus sangria in my fridge for a week and every morning I briefly thought it was orange juice, then, devastated, remembered it was spiked with three kinds of booze and was not an appropriate accompaniment to my multivitamin.

If you’ll look across the bottom of the photo, you’ll notice a couple bags of perogies. Another moment of weakness, perhaps, but those two bags equal $5 worth of potatoes, cheese and egg albumen (I dunno what that is, but it’s in the ingredients). Part of a well-balanced diet, when paired with that romaine. Oh! And that Frozen Whole Leaf Spinach underneath the two tomatoes. That’s been absent from my meals, too.

Then there’s the onion. Safeway has the grossest-looking onions.

I bought two $0.49-packages of Mr. Noodles. What is it exactly that inspires me to do such things? I’m no pro, but I’m capable of creating a pretty satisfying meal out of ingredients such as the ones I mention just a couple paragraphs above. Yet I bought instant ramen. And then I ate it on two consecutive nights. Confession over.

And we end on Silk Vanilla fortified soy beverage—more familiarly referred to as soy milk. Am I alone in feeling just a teensy bit uncomfortable with soy milk these days? Food Inc. made me feel like all the soy beans in existence were evil. Oh well, it’s delicious.

So there you have it. And in the spirit of the unbelievable budgeters over at 30 Bucks A Week, here’s a scan of my rather overpriced receipt.

the receipt