How I Miss the City. . . .Food
I can remember the first time I saw Sturgeon Falls. Almost right away I realized it was an eating wasteland. I don't know if I said it out loud or not but I know I thought, "What this town needs are a few Jews. At least, enough to open a Jewish Deli.
I learned that Sturgeon Falls was proud to be the French Fry Capital of the World. There were two very busy Chip stands in the downtown and as you drove around it seemed every block has someone with a chipstand on their front lawn. This proved to be the way the locals "dined out". I didn't realize how bad it really was until a few years later I asked someone what the best restaurant in town was as I wanted to take a friend out to dinner. I was directed to the Sturgeon Lodge. Well it was just passable. I don't think it rated a single star.
Sturgeon Falls when I saw it did not have a single franchised fast food place. (to its credit) Not even those who made money at peddling mediocre fast food saw fit to invade Sturgeon Falls where fries and poutine (that disgusting looking French Canadian concoction) was considered haute cuisine.
Well that has all changed. There are a plethora of fast food outlets now. All the big players are here. But still no Jewish Deli, my favourite.
All this came to mind when I listened to David Sax talk about his book, Save the Deli. While he grew up in Toronto, his roots were in Montreal where the Jewish community had a big impact on life in that city with Deli and Bagel establishments, some of the best in the World.
The most famous Deli in Montreal is Schwartz Deli. They made Montreal Smoked meat a food to seek out and eat while in that city. In a way, along with poutine, the smoked meat can be seen as the national dishes of Quebec. Smoked meat is a cured corned beef that is fattier than regular corned beef and moister than pastrami. It is to die for, served on rye bread with the necessary kosher pickles on the side. Don't forget the mustard on it.
A Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
When I lived in New Haven, CT., I loved to go to a Deli there. Usually, I got pastrami on rye. the Deli always had big bowls of free pickles on the table, kosher dills and brine pickles. How I love brine pickles. I had a young teenager who suffered from schizophrenia who I came and help me put out the church newsletter, every second week. It was our thing for me to take him to the Deli for lunch as a treat after the job was done. Between the two of us I think they lost money with our eating all the free pickles.
A Reuben Sandwich
Over the years, I developed a taste for Reuben sandwiches. Doesn't it just make your mouth water. For the uninitiated it is a grilled sandwich with pastrami, saurkraut and swiss cheese filling with Thousand Island dressing on it between rye or pumpernickel bread. Oh! to have one right now would be such a treat.
I was at our reopened restaurant in River Valley yesterday which is little more than an indoor chipstand. I am hoping the food improves. The new owner is my immediate neighbour. I was trying to convince her to create a special unique food that people would come out of their way to have. I was thinking in terms of a spicey meat filled turnover like the Jamaican Pattie. (It seems there are variations on this around the world). I could not convince her but she did promise that in the future she would serve Reuben sandwiches. She won me over. If she does I will be a regular patron.
It is the array of good food I miss about the city. There is a price you pay for the quiet rural life.
I once tried to eat in all the best restaurants in Toronto, using "Toronto Life" magazine as my guide. (I'm sorry I was an aspiring Yuppie in those days.) I spent lots of money and ate lots of lovely meals but I could not catch up to the coming into and going out of existence of great restaurants that city, one of the best eating cities due to it many large ethnic communitie
For everyday fare, I would still seek out a Deli as my first choice. It would be a crime if they disappeared.