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Archive for March, 2011

One of the responses to my recent posting on the terrible pizza in Toronto commented “what can you expect from a place that puts vinegar on French fries”. That got me thinking what do most people put on their French fries?

I like my French fries with ketchup. I should clarify. I like ketchup on the side, so I can dip my fries. I don’t want them smothered all over the fries. I like my fries crisp. A lot of people here in Canada do enjoy fries with vinegar, or gravy. I read that people in Belgium like them with mayonnaise. I even have heard of putting mustard on French fries. I find it hard enough to find good mustard in Toronto. I like a good deli style mustard not the neon yellow stuff that seems to be so abundant here but I’ll save that for a posting another day. I would never think to have fries with mustard. Yet, I have put mustard on a potato knish.

I have seen some unusual toppings on fries such as cheese or chilli. There is a French Canadian speciality called a poutine, which are fries with gravy and cheese curds. This has absolutely no appeal to me, although I think every place should have a specialty food. I feel bad for the poor potatoes when they are overwhelmed with too many extras. I am even hearing of new food offerings where the French fries themselves become the condiment on sandwiches and burgers.

I have decided to conduct a poll to see how people like to eat their French fries.

I’m looking forward to your responses. I want to get a better idea of the French fry eating world.

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As you may know, there are many foods I miss living here in Canada. However, New York pizza is the one I long for the most. In fact, it is the one food where I have just given up on finding a reasonable alternative. As far as pizza in Toronto goes, just throw some sauce and cheese on the box and serve that to me. It will taste about the same as far as I am concerned.

I can’t understand why they can not make a decent pizza here. It worries me even more that people living here actually think it tastes good. I owe it to the people of Toronto to make them aware what they are eating is not what ‘good pizza’ should taste like. I don’t know exactly why the pizza tastes so much better in New York. Maybe it’s the sauce, maybe it’s the cheese, or maybe, as they always say, it’s the water. The crust of the pizza in Toronto is way too doughy. Hand tossed and baked in a brick oven, New York pizza is just the right thickness, thin, but not crispy. You have to be able to fold it without the crust breaking. The perfect slice of pizza should develop a layer of grease when you fold it that drips down your arm when you start to eat. It’s usually sold by the ‘slice’ or by the ‘pie’. Most people I know eat it ‘au natural’ just plain sauce and cheese, but toppings are available. I think one has to load on the toppings in Toronto to mask the fact the pizza itself has no taste. For the same reason, dipping sauce is not usually required in New York and you will never be offered fries with your pie.

Do yourself a favor when you’re in New York and grab yourself a slice. Just don’t go into one of the chains and think you are having New York pizza just because you are in the Big Apple. Get yourself to a local pizzeria. Some are better than others. One of my favorites is Gino’s Pizzeria in Howard Beach, New York. But even the worst New York pizza will make you want to swear off pizza in Toronto. When I get to New York the first thing I want to do is eat some pizza. If I could, I think I would eat it everyday. And all these years my family thought it was them I looked forward to seeing. I’m just kidding. My family knows it’s the pizza.

A Piece of New York Pizza

New York Pizza has lots of cheese

A New York Pizza Pie

Does anyone out there have a favorite place to grab a slice? Let me know by leaving me a comment.

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Canada has been using the metric system for quite a long time now. I remember learning it in school. As it’s based on the power of tens, and since I learned to count to ten at an early age thanks to my friends Ernie and Bert, it was pretty easy to get a handle on. But is it practical and how often is it really used in Canada?

In Canada the weather is usually reported in Celsius and most people seem comfortable with that. For instance I know zero is freezing and anything below that requires a pair of thermal underwear. Twenty-five degrees and above means you can leave the jacket at home. But when was the last time you went to the doctor because you were running a fever of 38.8888 degrees? We measure the snow in cm even though ten cm of snow sounds a lot more depressing than four inches. Yet, I can’t remember the last time I received a birth announcement that read: “Congratulations, it’s a boy, 3.58 kg and 53.34 cm long!” According to my driver’s license I am 157 cm tall. That sounds pretty tall for someone who has to buy her pants in the 5’4 and under store and still have them shortened. 

There are times when metric measurements seem more widely used. Medications are usually prescribed in mg. Soda* (or as they say in Canada ‘pop’) is sold in two litre bottles. Most international sporting events like track and field and swimming are measured using the metric system. When American swimmer Michael Phelps was racking up medals at the Olympics a few years back, I don’t think anyone noticed he was doing it in metres.

Maybe Canada is a hybrid when it comes to the metric system versus the old imperial system. We may buy butter in 454 g containers and flour in 10 kg bags, but we want to measure our ingredients in cups and bake our cake in a 350 degree oven. We enter a 5k race to lose a couple of pounds. We’re okay with buying our gas by the litre to fill our cars. We just feel we pay too much for it. That’s true no matter how you measure it.

* I came across this handy guide to Canadian phrases and sayings. It was developed for international students studying in Canada but it may make a handy translation guide for both my Canadian and American readers.

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