October means many things for different people: school has started to settle for parents and students, others are excited by Hallowe’en candy, and winter is at the doorstep as per the current weather here in Montréal. For me, I also note that the month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I feel grateful for my health and think about the many families that are impacted by diseases such as breast cancer. As I young child, I knew how the diagnosis of breast cancer can shake a family as my mother was diagnosed with the disease at a young age. After battling cancer for eleven years she succumbed to the illness more than a decade ago.
It’s been a bit of an ethnic food extravaganza here in Montréal as after stopping by Bombay Mahal, I went for a Sunday dim sum brunch in Chinatown. My friend and acquaintances included those who were new to the arena of dim sum and also not very big eaters of Asian food in general. So bringing an older European couple to a Sunday brunch nary of waffles and eggs was a gamble, but I think the meal went over well and we found new fans of Chinese breakfast.
Dim sum isn’t a big weekend brunch go-to here in Montréal as it was as I was growing up in Toronto. As a child my family, like many other Asian families, would arrange these Sunday meals with other family friends at our favourite spots, first hitting downtown restaurants but later heading out to the suburbs. (As it happens, with time the Hong Kong immigrants settled in places like Markham, leaving much of downtown Toronto Chinatown in the hands of mainland Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants.) Our party would number about twelve in total — three families of four — and like a hoard of Asian bus tour bangers, we would convene on the chosen spot and feed on a very heavy breakfast.
I complain too much about the mediocrity of ethnic food here in Montréal. But I shouldn’t complain about this when most of the food offered in the city is so good, right? I mean, we have so much good bread, amazing French food, an abundance of maple syrup, and all the cheese that you can only wish for outside of Europe.
So when I start complaining about food in Montréal I know my friends back home in Toronto are just rolling their eyes. I get it, I do. You yearn for what you don’t have. The grass is greener on the other side. Yada yada. But when you grow up with good Indian food everywhere, and for mere pennies really, then you move almost 600 kilometres away and keep running into crappy Indian food…it’s disconcerting. It’s sad.
Oh wow, POP Montréal was three weeks ago! Alas, I never got around to blogging about it until now. But I had such a great time wandering around the Mile End and partaking in various events of the indie music festival, including the very much loved arts and crafts fair, Puces POP. Hence, this is worth mentioning now though we’re already midway through October.
It was actually my first time dropping in at Puces POP which, as part of the POP Montréal festival was held in the basement of Église St-Michel, the looming landmark in the Mile End neighbourhood. A few years back I had attended the performance by the Montréal art bands The Luyas and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, but every September I am so swamped with fall time busyness that POP Montréal comes and goes without a blip. Until this year. I had a good friend visiting me from Toronto and because she is always in the city for work, I figured it would be fun to show her around other parts of the island and indulge in some artsy-fartsy-ness, a throwback from our old days in art school.