strange and familiar

I forayed into Toronto's Chowhound message board yesterday for some tips on Chinatown, and on good food in Mississauga.

Do you guys know about Chowhound? It's the brainchild of food writer Jim Leff, a/k/a The Alpha Dog, and it's a great way to (among other things) find good food all over North America. In New York I would use it when exploring a new neighbhorhood, or if we were going out for an extravagant dinner and wanted to pick the perfect place. Yesterday I knew that I'd be able to post a message, and within hours I'd have the opinions of many friendly food-lovers in T.O. and vicinity. (Reason number 346,720 to love the internet.)

I understand there are three Chinatowns in Toronto now - the same in New York - and that the oldest Chinatown, the one on Spadina, is now largely Vietnamese. That's also the same in New York. We drove into the Spadina Chinatown, left the car at a "green P" [US readers: reasonable public parking in Toronto] and wandered around with a short list of recommendations.

We ended up having a couple of things at a Vietnamese place, a few more at a Chinese place, and topping it off with mango bubble tea. The food was very good, and the atmosphere completely familiar. I love how Chinatowns all over the continent have the same look and feel. We saw many restaurants with "all day Dim Sum" signs; we'll have to find a favorite spot for that, too. We looked in a few Chinese groceries and pharmacies, something I always enjoy, walked around a little bit with our bubble tea, and headed home.

Except now we don't get on the subway, we get in the car. And we sit in the backyard. I do the laundry in the basement. We put dishes in a dishwasher. I drive to the supermarket. Ordinary life is very different. We like it.

A long time ago, when Allan first moved to New York, we would be walking around somewhere and, a propos of nothing, one of us would say, "Here we are in New York." It was part reality check, part sheer amazement. Our lives had changed so much, it often felt surreal. Driving home last night, I said, "Here we are in Canada." Allan said he's been thinking the same thing. Here we are in Canada.

As in, we did it. It really happened. We live here now.


Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

I'm glad you're happy with your move. I mean it was a big decision, it would have been terrible if you discovered that Toronto wasn't right for you.

Still, you haven't been through a Canadian winter yet (I'm just kidding. A T.O. winter is about the same as an upstate New York winter. Ottawa, on the other hand, is quite a bit colder than T.O.)

Liam J said...

I grew up in Ottawa, and I still hate the winters. Oh well, at least I have a gas fireplace for thos miserable cold nights. :)

laura k said...

From visiting and reading about Toronto, I had a real gut sense that it was a good fit.

The winters, well... I haven't experienced an upstate New York winter in a long, long time. I'm sure there are times when it will get to me. All I can say is, I'd much rather live in a place with long cold winters than long hot summers.

But I do feel that if I ever complain about the winter, everyone will jump all over me with "I told you so"s and "don't say we didn't warn you"s...!

Crabbi said...

But I do feel that if I ever complain about the winter, everyone will jump all over me with "I told you so"s and "don't say we didn't warn you"s...!

God, I hope not. I'm guessing that people will be mostly sympathetic, should you happen to mention it's chilly out. Want to bet the "I told you so's" will come from America-first types?

Oh, and I LOVE Chowhound.

mkk said...

Yes, you really did it! When you moved to NYC, you just showed up. To move to Canada, you had to jump through all those immigration hoops, fill out mountains of paperwork, spend lots of money, and wait and wait and wait. It required courage, initiative, and political commitment. Congratulations. There you are. In Canada. At last. Wow.

laura k said...

Thanks, Crabletta. Yes, you're probably right, any "I told you so"s should be from the folks who had their knickers in a twist over the idea of someone choosing to leave the GNOTFOTE.*

Still, I'm going to try not to complain about the winter. :)

Thanks, Marcie!!

I will say, when Allan moved to NYC, I think that was the biggest change of life, and the biggest risk, he will ever take. I think that first move - early 20s, no money, no support network, not leaving for college which your parents are paying for, but picking up and leaving your hometown for a new life in a new city - is the biggest move anyone can make. Thousands of young people do it every day, but it's no less momentous. The two of us moving to Canada pales in comparison.

But nevertheless: here we are.

* greatest nation on the face of the earth

laura k said...

And so glad you love Chowhound!