Monday, May 30, 2022

You Can't Beat a Babka

Today after much anticipation we finally made the drive up to Vancouver, British Columbia.

I think of Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland as sibling cities. They are all Pacific North Western cities and I think have a similar climate due to being on the ocean but also sandwiched up against the Cascade Mountains.

I was excited to visit Canada in general. I haven't been since I visited Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario for a day with my parents probably 20 years ago.

I don't have a lot of experience with crossing US land borders but I was not expecting the nightmare that met us at the border.

When we first got up to the Canadian border guard, he said we had to go to the back of the line because we didn't fill out some stupid form about covid? The thing was so broken that it wouldn't let us submit the form until we entered our address in Canada. As this was a day trip there was no such address, and we had to research Canadian postal codes in order to slap a fake one onto our home address so that the computer would accept it. I'd estimate the whole torture process took 3.5 hours.

There were a lot of people just walking across which honestly would have been a lot faster. I think they were taking Ubers which had to ditch them a ways back because at some point you are stuck in the "no choice but Canada" lane of terror.

Immediately after crossing we stopped at a gas station to use the restroom and buy a bunch of weird snacks.

We stopped for poutine at a joint called Belgian Fries. There was a sign on the wall:

The Origin of Poutine

The dish originated in rural Quebec in the late 1950s and is now popular in parts of the country. Several Quebecois communities claim to be the origin of poutine, but the most popular tale is the one of Fernand Lachance, from Warick, Quebec, which claims that poutine was invented in 1957, when a customer ordered fries while waiting for his cheese curds from the Kingsey cheese factory in Kingsey Falls. Lachance is said to have exclaimed ca va faire une maudite poutine ("it will make a hell of a mess"), hence the name. The gravy was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer and there are many variations of poutine.

I'm sorry but this is a pale comparison to the delectable horseshoe from Springfield, Illinois.

Canada is kind of like America, but not quite.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

So the Gastown neighborhood of Victoria has a "working steam clock". Apparently there is a network of steam pipes underground that supply the city's heat? I've never heard of such a thing. It sounds like a giant old radiator system like we had at our first house. Anyway the clock is only using the steam to toot its little horn on top, and the actual clock part runs on electricity. Sounds like yet another Canadian scam to me. Amusingly one of the reasons they built the clock here was that there used to be a vent on the spot that hobos would sleep on and the neighborhood wanted them to take their sooty faces and their bindles full of canned beans and hit the road.

We popped into Kozak which is a Ukrainian restaurant but it also has a bakery component. 

We bought a chocolate babka which is apparently a Jewish Ukrainian thing. It was the most delicious thing ever baked.

The only reason I've ever even heard of this thing before is an episode of Seinfeld.

Our last stop was the Richmond Night Market. I would describe it as more Asian than Asia.

One of the weird things we bought was like a dessert ramen where the noodles were like gummy worms.

As the festival was nearing closer to closing time, booths that still had food remaining started dropping their prices. I bought half an ocean worth of bbq squid for a song.

When American customs asked me what I was importing I proudly told them "half a loaf of chocolate bread".

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