Dazzled by the city, but very happy to be home

Terrines & Pâtés

One of the shops at Montreal’s famous Atwater Market that was mobbed with people seeking fine things to eat to celebrate Easter and Passover.

“You’ll need a bit of the city now and then,” my friend Elaine told me back when Raymond and I were thinking seriously about buying the Manse and spending a fair bit of time in Queensborough.

Now, Elaine should know, having, like me, lived for many years in large cities before returning to her childhood home here. But of course I said (or thought) something along the lines of “Pshaw.” (“Pshaw” – now that’s a word one doesn’t get to use much any more, isn’t it?) All I wanted back then was to spend as much time as possible listening to silence and birdsong and peepers in Queensborough, away from the noise and bustle and frustration of Montreal. But Elaine, who is wise, said that every now and then we would want to spend a day or two in a place where there are museums and restaurants and bookshops and concerts and, yes, bustle.

Much as I adore the peaceful life in Queensborough, I am beginning to see her point.

A few days ago I made passing mention (here) of how it was kind of dazzling to be back in Montreal over the Easter weekend, after the rigours of a long, brutal winter out here on the edge of the Canadian Shield. Mainly what dazzled me were food things, truth be told. Raymond and I went to the Atwater Market to buy lamb for Easter dinner, and I found myself wide-eyed and slack-jawed at all the amazing foods that were available there. Here are just a few:

Terrines etc.

Just part of the terrine and pâté selection at one of the butcher shops in the Atwater Market. Lapin (rabbit), bison, faisan (pheasant), sanglier (wild boar), chevreuil (deer) – and on and on. All faites maison – made in-house.

Wild blueberry juice from Lac-Saint-Jean

Wild-blueberry juice from the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, famous for its blueberries.

Micro bok choy

Not just mini bok choy (which one can find in food stores here in central Hastings County) but micro bok choy – teeny tiny. Cute!

The mushroom selection

The selection of fresh mushrooms at one produce shop. Now do you see why I was dazzled?

Multicoloured radishes

Multicoloured radishes and carrots – exotic (to me), and on sale!

The thing I couldn’t get over as I ogled all those foods that are difficult or impossible to obtain here in the Queensborough area is that I had lived for so long in Montreal – 16 years – where all this bounty and selection was so readily at hand, and never thought anything much about it. Took it for granted, in other words. Apparently it is only when your mushroom selection is limited to white button mushrooms and light-brown button mushrooms – with maybe some sliced portobellos thrown in – that you realize how wonderful it is, every now and then, to be able to choose from a couple of dozen varieties.

But I want to end this post by telling you that, much as I appreciated the food dazzlement, and much as I now totally get how right Elaine was when she said we’d need that experience every now and then, I wouldn’t exchange my new life for the old one for anything. And here’s just one example of why:

A few days after we returned from that Montreal visit, I was standing in the checkout line at the Madoc Foodland, a big, bright supermarket that I like very much. While it doesn’t stock wild-blueberry juice from Lac-Saint-Jean, it has everything a person could need, and more. And suddenly there was a friendly, familiar face in the neighbouring checkout line, and a question: “Will we see you at the crokinole party tonight?” (It was the day of the monthly community crokinole party in the hamlet of Eldorado, which I wrote about here.)

And my answer to her was – of course – “Yes!” And I left the Foodland thinking that a trade of a vast selection of foods for a small, friendly community where people know you and invite you to the crokinole party in the checkout line at the grocery store is – well, a very good trade indeed.

2 thoughts on “Dazzled by the city, but very happy to be home

  1. And, what are the chances of someone inviting you to a crokinole party (whilst standing in a check-out line) in Montreal? Uhhh, I can’t hear you …. 🙂 I think the answer would be similar to the chances if I had been checking out at Loblaws/Maple Leaf Gardens.

    I’ve never been to the Foodland in Madoc, but I’ve seen photos (from your various postings), and it looks like it has a very good variety of foods, certainly more than I remember from the IGA. (For example, at one time, the only tomatoes we could get were four in a little green plastic container, but hey, tomatoes are tomatoes.) Does Foodland have the pre-packaged pates (similar to those made by President’s Choice)?

    That selection of pate in the photo is amazing — and they, obviously, sell well, considering the amounts that have been removed from the containers. The duck pate with Armagnac does sound rather tempting. Now, once I try this new baguette method and have passed it to you, you will have it for your pate. And when you’ve enjoyed that, then I’ll send Julia’s recipe for a terrine. It’s not difficult, but it has a few steps and, trust me, it’s well worth it! In the meantime …

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