Culture & Conversation

Posts from the ‘Taste’ category

The four-generation NYC family dynasty, Russ & Daughters

The house that herring built

For four generations, Russ & Daughters has been the only surviving appetizing store in New York’s Lower East Side selling Jewish deli appetizers. A testimony to the changes of the neighbourhood, the store’s cast of characters include Lobster the strong armed fish salesman, counter staff preaching for Jews for Jesus, and gefilte tofu. A book which is a delicious romp into history.


“Let them eat compost”

POLITICS. In this mayoralty race urban agriculture has hardly been on the lips of the front-runners. When asked by a Radio Canada journalist if he composts, Denis Coderre quipped: “I eat my compost,” a one liner that surely sums up his party’s well thought out environmental program.


Marci Babineau

For three years, Marci Babineau’s backyard chickens made her the poster girl for the urban chicken movement in Montreal. Media outlets big and small covered the story all the way to Toronto.


Roy Sargent

In the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, Verdun was covered with farms. In fact, it owes its status as a municipality to a group of English and French-speaking gentleman farmers in 1874 who wanted to avoid a perceived tax grab by the City of Montreal. Plus ça change…


Bertrand Montpetit

How many of us in Quebec are still eating from our gardens in the month of December? Global warming aside, I would hazard very few. One such fortunate man is Bertrand Montpetit, a market gardener for over thirty years, organic for the last four.


Bernie’s Greens

Bernard Bonneau is over six feet tall, but when he stoops to pluck a leaf off one of his spinach plants he is like a kid in a candy shop. The grin on his face says it all.


Domaine Delahaye

I met Geneviève Dupuis of Domaine Delahaye on a windy day. The night before, the family goat, Juliette, had given birth to two squalling kids. Romeo, the buck, was in a stall nearby.


Rolling in the dough

Cerys Wilson is a baker without an oven. Or at least she was last Wednesday when I interviewed her about her new venture the Bread Exchange, an online platform where she exchanges her bread for other people’s skills. “A minor glitch in the system,” she laughs. “They promise me it will be fixed by tomorrow.” For Wilson, who calls herself an independent baker, the oven is a case in point, highlighting both the frustrations and expense that “going it alone” can incur.

Regular Joe

“I think there’s some kind of Montreal black magic to it, that it might only work up there with all those crazy French Canadians,” says New York author and restaurateur David Chang in his introduction to The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. This kind of caricature of Quebec is dangerously right on the money. What makes Joe Beef compelling to Americans and the rest of Canada is the exotic presence of the Quebecer, exemplified in Joe Beef’s chefs: English-speaking Frederic Morin and French-speaking David MacMillan. They are children of this province’s original culture clash.