Sunday, May 16, 2010

Part IV: Contorno - "The Edible City" Book Review

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And the book review continues! One more part of The Edible City (dessert, to be exact) after this course!

In the second-to-last section, Amanda Miller gives a practical guide for seasonal food planting in Toronto's urban gardens, along with instructions for basic food preservation (drying herbs, making jams, etc.) and some general tips and tricks (i.e. plant mint alone, as their roots tend to choke out other plants). She also names useful Toronto resources for local gardeners.

Wayne Reeves looks at the rise, fall and resurgence of craft beer in Toronto. Like other areas, when Prohibition hit many brewers went out of business or changed their focus (one started producing vinegar, for example). He also includes a helpful "beer style primer" to help the reader understand the differences between pale ales, wheat beer, porters, stout, etc.

Kathryn Borel, Jr.'s strange encounter with a former chef she takes home after an evening out doesn't get very sexy, but at least it yields a good recipe for mussels in cream sauce with green apple and braised fennel!

If you want to know where to find exotic ingredients in Toronto, read Kevin Connolly's piece. He points out the multicultural gems in Toronto, like Danforth Variety and Fruit Market for West-Indian ingredients (think dasheen and Scotch bonnet peppers) to Fu Yao Supermarket on Gerrard for everything Thai, including the infamous Thai basil and tough-to-find Golden Mountain Sauce.

Rea McNamara talks about Caribbean and West Indian food in Toronto with a specific focus on its roti (Hindi word for 'bread') shops. She also touches on the desire of the diaspora to cook such pivotal cultural dishes at home, but sometimes the roti shops (especially in Toronto) do it best ;)

Damian Rogers gives an inside look at the movers and shakers and business exchanges that go down at the Ontario Food Terminal where an average of 5.1 million lbs of foodstuffs PER DAY pass through (if you've ever driven west on the Gardiner Expressway coming from downtown Toronto, you've seen it but, aside from the farmer's market attached to it, it's not open to the public).

Charles Z. Levkoe and Airin Stephens talk about school meal programs that go beyond being just, well, school meal programs. The kids at George Harvey Collegiate Institute (in the diverse Keele-Eglinton area) are part of such a program, where, to quote a student, "in just one day I could be helping write a funding proposal for the food program in an English class, work outside in the [school's] gardens in Leadership, cook the food in Food and Nutrition and then write a speech in my Public Speaking class about food security." The food citizenship these programs instill in students is priceless.

Chris Hardwicke details the ongoing revival of St. Andrew's Market in the King-Spadina neighbourhood.

Chris Ramsaroop and Katie Wolk focus on discrimination and financial/legal issues migrant workers, many of whom harvest Canadians' fruits and veggies, face. Their ultimate ask is "can we achieve racial equality in the food security movement?"

Chris (and can I just note how strange it is that the last three stories in this chapter are all by someone named Chris?) Nuttall-Smith starts by reminiscing about his childhood on his dad's hobby farm, eating fresh eggs tasting deliciously like "cut grass and butter and the sun." He then turns his focus in the story to present-day rebel egg and milk production in Ontario.

That's it for this course - stay tuned for dessert!
Yours in food,

Click here to read our reviews of the other sections (antipastiprimosecondo and dolce) of the book!


Mardi Michels said...

Hmm.. I think I might have to get myself a copy of this! Thanks for the great - and indepth - review!!!

Tasting Toronto said...

Thanks Mardi! It's a wide-ranging book & it helped me learn a lot about Toronto's food scene both past and present - glad you enjoyed the review! Hope to see you soon, cheers! -Stacey

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