By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript
There was an article in the newspaper recently about how our local dining scene is becoming more multicultural. Indeed, the question, ‘What’s your favourite sushi place in town?’ wouldn’t have even crossed anyone’s lips 10 years ago. In fact, I doubt many people even knew what sushi was then unless they’d travelled to larger cities in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
I’ve heard really good things about a number of sushi places in the area. It’s funny, though, at how so many people refuse to try it. If you like fish and like rice, you’ll like sushi. Yes, you can skip the raw stuff. There are lots of other options if that’s what turns you off.
These days, there are so many cultural dining choices for us. We have everything from Italian, a number of Asian countries (South Korea, India, Vietnam, etc.) Belgium, Morocco, France – and all the more familiar domestic ones, too, such as Acadian. It wasn’t so long ago that the most exotic place to eat in most towns was the generic Chinese restaurant with Canadian-style offerings. There are still plenty of good ones around, but there’s a growing number of more authentic restaurants for the more sophisticated foodies out there.
When I was in school in the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a handful of good Chinese restaurants, including the Palace Grill, House of Lam and Ming Garden. Only House of Lam remains today. By all accounts, it’s still a great place to dine.
My family wasn’t big on Chinese food. We were more of a meat and potatoes family except for on the weekends when we would be treated to some take-out food. Most of the time, we had fries and a bucket of chicken from Deluxe French Fries. We had that often for supper on Sundays.
Then Kraft homemade double pizza kits came along and that seemed to replace Deluxe’s fried chicken in the 1980s. Those pizzas were so good! I still make them once every two or three years. They’re still as delicious as ever, especially since you can load them up with whichever toppings you want. And has anyone actually successfully managed to get two pizzas out of that dough? You’d need the patience of Job to stretch out the dough that thin. I just plunk it all into one pan, now. It’s pretty much a loaf of bread with cheese and pepperoni on top when it comes out, but I least I keep my sanity.
It’s always interesting to eat something from a different country. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t mind trying haggis – a traditional Scottish ‘delicacy,’ if I may call it that. I’ve heard people either love it or hate it. I suppose it’s one of those things you have to grow up eating in order to like it. According to Wikipedia, “haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.” Hmmm… OK, maybe it doesn’t sound terribly appetizing – at least in writing – but I’m willing to try it.
Even restaurants featuring more common cultural offerings are sprouting up everywhere. I don’t remember seeing Acadian restaurants around when I was a kid. Now, there are a bunch of them – all offering traditional foods such as poutine râpée, râpé pie and fricot. Considering how labour-intensive poutine râpée is to make, it’s a lot easier to buy them rather than work for hours and lose an entire batch if they decide to disintegrate into a pot of grey soup.
I think the restaurant I went to most when I was a kid was the old Blue Circle Restaurant on Main Street in Moncton. My father would bring me there after church on Sundays. I’d have an orange pop and he’d have coffee and gossip with the boys. They’d all smoke like crazy, too – the same bunch every week. I still see a few of them around. Their most popular dish back then seemed to be a hot turkey sandwich with fries as thick as boards covered in gravy and served with peas.
There’s something to be said about new multicultural cuisine restaurants, but we often revert to fond memories of our childhood when it comes to food. But I guess it’s out with the old and in with the new, eh? As long as they keep selling those Kraft pizza kits at the grocery store, I should be able to get the best of both worlds.