New toy

No, it’s not a new computer gadget. It’s a food processor. I’ve always wanted one but found the standard ones too bulky and expensive for my needs so I finally found one that is perfect for us:

Of course I had to try it out right away! So I made a coarse pesto, courtesy of a very creative food blog by a Brazilian living in California.

I then added some nice orange cherry tomatoes and some fusili and made a nice summer meal:

Today I made some hummus. Tomorrow? I don’t know… maybe some tapenade?


Saturday morning at Kensington

As I’ve said many times before, Kensington Market represents my idea of what Toronto and ultimately, Canada, means for me. It’s a place where old and young, rich and poor, every ethnicity, rub shoulders in peace. But despite the recent wave of gentrification, it’s not a place for everybody. It’s not manicured and some would say that it is definitely rough around the edges. Its origin as a cheap market for working class immigrants is still evident and one of the things that fascinate me, ever the historian. One can see the different waves of Canadian immigration history in its stores: first there were the Jews, then the Chinese, the Portuguese, the Jamaican and more recently, the Latin Americans. All of this is evident at the corner of Augusta and Baldwin where we hang out. Louie’s Cafe, where we spend many hours, is owned by three generations of Portuguese immigrants, their neighbour is Solly, the Jewish butcher, who grew up in the market and serves his own coffee at Louie’s, across the street is a Chinese fruit and vegetable stand where the matriarch of the Portuguese family does her shopping. The owner respectfully carries her shopping and walks her across the street when she’s done. Next door is the Chilean empanadas place. It’s a tight knit community.

Above all, Kensington teaches us not to judge by appearances. We’ve seen men in expensive suits sitting beside a group of very rough-looking punks, who were always apologetic and polite if they bumped into you. We are one a first-name basis with some of the local street people, who are always very nice and dignified.

Markets are a place filled with a special energy that capture much of the soul of a community. As Javier Reverte said so beautifully in his book about his African adventures, to really understand a place, one needs to visit its public markets. I take that to heart and try to always visit a local market where I am. In Montreal, we were regulars at Jean Talon, with its special Québécois atmosphere. In Barcelona, our favourite market was the Mercado de l’Abaceria Central, in Gracia, which was busy every day of the week. Here in Toronto, despite having visited the St. Lawrence Market a few times, we quickly took to Kensington.

This morning was a particularly nice one to be in the market. The air was dry and the sky was a perfect shade of blue. I regretted not having my camera.

But here’s a b&w from last year:

This will be a crucial year

Chatting with one of my profs the other day, I realized that to finish my dissertation this year and do all the other things I want to do (i.e. teach, organize events, work on crrs website, committee work, go to the gym, socialize, learn Hebrew, etc), I’ll need to start getting up at 4 in the morning. I can see myself waking up that early and working only on my dissertation before the day begins. I’ll start with 5 am this coming week and see how it goes.


Two weeks ago, Toronto celebrated the fifth anniversary of a blackout that left most of the northeastern coast of North America in darkness. It was a very surreal experience – people all over downtown Toronto simply spilled onto the streets and partyed. On our street, our building held a bbq outside and the little house across the street held a party in order to drink all the beer they had in their fridge before it spoiled. I walked down to College & Yonge, a major intersection, only to find traffic flowing normally despite the lack of intersection lights. I was amazed at how organized everything was and wrote about it a while ago. This year, in order to mark the event and recap some of the energy in the streets that flowed so positively that day, a few hundred people held a party at the intersection of Bloor & Spadina. For about 10 mins they occupied the intersection, played music, danced and cheered. They then dispersed peacefully as police arrived and looked on confused. You can see a video of the event here. More information about the even here.

iPod Touch and (hopefull) productivity

If you are like me and end up with scribbled notes everywhere about things you need to do, call numbers of books to check out at the library, grocery lists (which I always seem to lose), and calendars that more often than not you forget at home, an iPod Touch (or iPhone) might be helpful. Alan gave me his iPod Touch this week since he hadn’t been using it all that much and I really needed something to replace my dead Palm Pilot. So, after poking around it a bit, I set up my calendar and bought an application – Todo 1.1.1 by Appigo, which I sync with a free online task management system. Hopefully it will help in the busy semester I have ahead!!

Congrats Tom!

When we lived in Montreal, Alan and I were very active members of the Pointe-Claire Canoe Club. We started out with just taking massive sea kayaks out for a bit of paddling around the lake (which is actually a river, but that’s another story) but we soon joined the club’s very first dragon boat team and started playing with the racing canoes and kayaks. For four summers, we were at the Canoe Club every single day during the summer, sometimes twice a day. We competed with the dragon boat team all over the place and had a blast. We went from being a team in which only three people had ever picked up a paddle before to winning a medal in a major competition in 3 years. I had never had as much fun practicing a sport and during our time at the club, we met all of the young athletes who worked and practised at the club. One of those young athletes is Tom Hall, a medal hopeful for Canada at Beijing. It was very exciting to watch Tom overcome a bad start and win his semifinal heat this morning. Go Tom!!

Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press - @
Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press - @


There’s a documentary on TV now on Catalunya. It’s in Chinese but it’s nice to see so many places we know. If I could re-start my history degree, I would probably study modern Spanish history and write a thesis on Catalan cultural history. Perhaps something on Catalan culture under Franco. It’s fascinating.