You've all read the stories: cell phones cause brain cancer, computers make you antisocial, Americans work more hours of the day than they admit in their 9-2-5s, we don't know how to vacation properly. I usually find these stories a little insulting to the millions of people who work because they both want and have to (except that, well, cell phones really are pretty gnarly). But I'm insulted because happy living in the city means someone's always working. If it's not you, it's the person working for you. And I know, it's not like that in the countryside, but I hated living in population 300 middle-of-nowhere-France precisely because absolutely nothing was open on Sundays. Yadda yadda, complain complain complain...
Well, last year I gave in to similarly "insulting" anti-smoking campaigns and things are pretty awesome. So this year I gave in to "technology-exile" and went to Montreal without a computer or PDA. I couldn't believe how freaked out I was for the first few days, but after a week of "technology detox" I feel like, well, I feel just like I did after I quit smoking:
TEN POUNDS FATTER.
Now, Montreal. Why Montreal? Because spending Canadian dollars looks and smells and sounds like spending American dollars, but feels like a million (and four hundred seventy thousand) bucks? Because the Quebecois speak French and then repeat themselves like obsessive-compulsive rainmen in English? Maybe it's the sub-Farenheit days followed by sub-Celsius nights. All of it was worth it, but the thing that made Montreal extra special (extra spécial) was animal fat.
Day 1: Le Club Chasse et Pêche
By recommendation, I start with grilled octopus, then order the duck rissotto and panache de légumes, but by the second bite of my rissotto, I want to cry. It's been cooked in duck fat, duck meat, then covered in fois gras shavings and topped with a friggin' duck rind. Yes, deep fat-fried duck skin.
Day 2: Au Pied de Cochon
By recommendation, I start with an "appetizer portion of the lobster special." Half a humongous lobster, stuffed with buttery grits, nuts and mashed potatoes. Then my main course: duck in a can. Hu-what. The. Fuck. Potato purée (mashed butter with a little starch, as far as I'm concerned), topped with a whole duck breast rendered in an inch-thick layer of its own fat, sauerkraut and carrots cooked in duck fat and maple syrup, and on top of the whole thing is an entire fattened liver, the size of a moleskin notebook. AND A SIDE OF FRIES. Delicious, yes, but after a couple bites of it... I want to cry again. It was like having a urinary tract infection. You know it probably felt good getting there, but once you're in pain, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and soon you're just sitting on the can waiting for some of it to come out.
Duck fat is the Ron Jeremy of Quebecois cuisine.
Day 3: Bière
Nothing quite as ridiculous as the past two nights, but it's still "all-ou-can-eat-mussels." You can just imagine. At this point, I'm feeling like a leathery hole and can't feel anything. I'm half-numb from the cold and alcohols. Deep fried sushi? Suuuure. Poutine? Psshh, whaa d'hell nawrt. Djess puttit in my faissss.
Americans are the gang bangers of all food.