Rediscovering your roots.
Sometimes you just need a gentle nudge to remind you, to look around you.
I had many gentle nudges last week.
People sometimes have a negative, or rather, shortsighted view of food in Halifax. No, we don’t have legions of food trucks selling us crazy ice creams or kooky tacos with kimchi. No, we don’t have a chinatown, or a little cambodia. But we do have a lot of things that other places don’t. And we have people trying to cultivate interesting food cultures, spaces, and practices. We just sometimes need to be reminded, be given a new (or refreshed) perspective on what is here.
A couple months ago, I got a message from Matt Armendariz. Matt writes a blog called Matt Bites, and he and I became acquaintances in 2010 when I interviewed him for Passable. Since then, he and I have kept in touch. In the case of the aforementioned message, Matt told me that he and Adam, his partner in crime (and also a Passable interview subject) would be coming to Halifax as Matt was asked to write/blog/tweet/etc. about Halifax. So last Tuesday, I met up with Matt and Adam for the first time after almost two years of interviews, chats, emails and more.
You see, I’ll admit, I was a wee bit nervous to take these two around. Sure, I know places I like to go, and I think what they serve is great. But these two have been around the world. Korea, Australia, France, Spain, Italy. I was a bit intimidated. I knew we could muster up some damn fine and tasty morsels for them, but would they like them? Would they care?
Those anxieties were quickly washed away with our first cup of coffee. As soon as we ordered, Matt started working, taking photos of everything (and everyone) in sight. Adam just looked at me, telling me that, “This is what he does.” Spending my days going around, eating, taking photos and talking about food? Not a bad way to make a living.
And talk about food is what we did. From the first bite, we didn’t stop talking and eating (and photographing) food.
I have to admit it was kind of nice to take someone around the city. To show them what we have to offer. Over the next two days, I tried to give them a sense of what is available in Halifax. We generally avoided the touristy spots (with a pleasant side tour through the Public Gardens), stopping in at such places at Brother’s Meats on Agricola (where they were thrilled with the idea of fried pepperoni, but alas, never got to taste), John’s Lunch (where we were fed what felt like a never ending plate of clams), drove around Sambro and Ketch Harbour and even ended one night with donairs at Pizza Corner.
Adam and Matt getting ready for their first donair, Matt ever present with his trusty iPhone for photos, tweets and Instagrams
Adam having a slice of donair pizza.
Beyond the fact that it was great to hang out with these two, it was nice to rediscover and recognise what there is for us to eat in Halifax and the environs. Almost everything they ate and drank was accented with:
“This is good.”
“This is really good.”
“You can’t get this in Southern California.”
“I have to stop eating.”
I mean, we know we have good food here. We know it because we eat it, we talk about it, we share it. But I think sometimes we lose perspective. We hear about crazy things in other parts of the country, we hear about cuisines and ingredients we don’t have access to. We hear about food events and cultures which are only beginning to be fostered here. But then you have people who are immersed in that world who come and visit and remind you that, you know what?
There is good stuff here. There is really good stuff here. There is stuff that you can’t stop eating because it’s that good.