Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Canadian observations: Part 1 - Iconography

We've just enjoyed 14 days in Canada with friends. The fact that my blog was suspended during this period is a testament to how busy we were and how much we packed into our time there. So, instead of my customary 'real time' travelogue, I'm going to give a few (vaguely accurate) posts on some items that caught my fancy or amused me.  I thought I'd start off with some Canadian icons. 

1. Tim Hortons
More, a lot more, than just a fast-food outlet, Tim Hortons (sadly always without an apostrophe) is an object of national veneration. Indeed, if such a thing were possible, I'm sure it would be a candidate for Canadian sainthood. Tim Horton was a hockey player who started his eponymous chain of doughnut shops in the late 1960s. Sadly he died in a car crash not that long after but his widow has ensured that his name lives on. Curiously, at least to the European mind, you can buy 'Tim Bits' at each shop. No, these do not refer to some strange relics of the Body of the Departed Tim but to the holes of the doughnuts, which are sold separately in Canada. What are the doughnuts like? No idea as fried dough covered in sugar is not my thing but the cinnamon and raisin bagels are good. As is the coffee apparently. Oh yes, they have clean toilets and free Wi-Fi. The Blessed Tim would be pleased.
2. Poutine
Whilst on the subject of fine-dining, I just could not ignore the joys of that local delicacy, poutine. How can I describe it? Chips, smothered in gravy and cheese curds is pretty accurate. How does it taste? Just as you would expect chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds to taste. How do  you feel after eating it? Just as you would expect after eating a pile of chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds. How does it look? Just as you would expect chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds to look. If you don't believe me, here's a plateful to tempt your tastebuds.
It is served everywhere. Everywhere we go, they throw in a ladle or two of poutine into the bargain. "Postcards? Sure, over there, and here" - gloop - "have some poutine with them". "Tickets to the theatre? No problem and here" - gloop - "take some poutine for the interval".
3. Canadian Loonies
No, not some sort of mental instability (you know, the kind that motivates people to eat at Tim Hortons or wallow in bowlfuls of poutine) but the one-dollar coin. So called because of the depiction of a waterfowl - the loon - on one side. And don't you dare think that the figure on the obverse is in good company. To take your mind off this possibility, I'll let you know that when the two-dollar coin was introduced, it was named, with admirable Canadian logic, the 'twoonie'.

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