Photo Credit: Wikicommons

Reflecting on Toronto’s Storied Streets

Some writers are careful to map their stories onto specific geographical locations. Two Toronto writers do this with particular care: Margaret Atwood and Dionne Brand.

Margaret Atwood has depicted Toronto with careful detail in her fictions, especially in The Robber Bride (1993) and Life Before Man (1979). Toronto is not signposted quite so explicitly in her earliest novel, The Edible Woman (1969), but is setting for one memorably uncomfortable restaurant dinner shared by Marian and her fiancé, Peter, in this novel about the politics of consumer society more generally. It begins well enough, with Marian and Peter enjoying their steaks, rare. “Marian was so hungry she would have liked to devour the steak at one gulp” (274). But as the meal goes on, Marian starts to remember diagrams of the various cuts of meat then she looks again at her plate to see not steak but rather “a hunk of muscle. Blood red” and finally has to put down her knife and fork (Atwood 280). Peter notices something is amiss, but does not understand what. The reader and Marian both recognize this as the beginning of trouble for their relationship and for Marian, who is already subconsciously aligning herself with the cow being so expertly dissected by her fiancé.
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quaglie all’uva (quail with grapes)

Recipe Notes (Alexia Moyer)

Welcome to Toronto. This week we’re cooking from Italian Canadians at Table: A Narrative Feast in Five Courses.

Editors Lorretta Gatto-White and Delia De Santis have gathered the food-related writings and recollections from Italian Canadians cross country. The result is a literary cookbook. You can cook from it, as it includes recipes and/or detailed descriptions of food preparation.

Pride of place belongs to narrative here. This book isn’t just about cooking, in other words. It’s about writing cooking.

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Many of its contributors live and work and eat in Toronto, including Elizabeth Cinello.

“Food Companion Wanted” is both title and premise of Cinello’s short story. Widower, Alberto Di Rota places an ad in the local Italian Canadian paper. He’s looking for a live-in cook and he wants traditional Italian meals. Widow, Nina Crocetti, weary of her daughter and granddaughter’s no-carbohydrate and vegetarian, gluten-free diets, agrees to meet Alberto at a park on Caledonia road.
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Sampling Toronto’s Storied Streets

In Sampling Toronto’s Storied Streets … one finds that Toronto’s literature paints a multilayered portrait of successive waves of immigration and their contributions to Canada’s largest urban metropolis. Its writers have peopled the city and Project Bookmark Canada, which provides informative plaques of places of literary interest, has already profiled parts of the city brought to literary life by Michael Ondaatje, Anne Michaels and poet Ken Babstock.

Bloor Street Viaduct

The Bloor Street Viaduct
Photo Credit: Wikicommons Media


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Prairie Chicken in Cream; Carrots in Orange Sauce

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At last, Northern Cookbook has arrived on my doorstep. Written by Eleanor Ellis in 1967, this cookbook – or at least my copy of it – is currently sunning it considerably south of 60 in Marseille, whose inhabitants keep lemon, fig, and palm trees on their balconies. There is something slightly boastful about owning a lemon tree that STAYS OUTSIDE in the “winter” but I will not belabour the subject. It smacks of sour grapes.

Suffice it to say that the many country food recipes in this book – Seal on a Bun, Jellied Moose Nose – cannot easily be made in my current kitchen. I do have ready access to citrus. I therefore chose two recipes more suited to a southern clime: Carrots with Orange Sauce and Prairie Chicken in Cream.

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