Surly Snobby

Monday, March 29, 2004

Serbian Goulash

Today it is spring. Well, it was spring before, but today I decided that it is really Spring and not Sprinter or Wing, even though it’s very likely it’ll snow at least one more time before I see colours in this city other than grey. I even managed to delude myself into believing that I could even see buds on the trees. Soon it will be one of my favourite times of spring, the time when people actually undress as they are walking down the street.

This morning I had a craving for a very particular green pea soup from a very particular Eastern European shop in a neighbourhood very far from me. This soup is astoundingly delicious and worth the one-hour walk (beats the alternative: several modes of public transit that take almost as long as walking). It is flavourful and nummy and I buy it sparingly so that it remains special, ie. I don’t get sick of it. What’s the secret ingredient? Flavour. It’s not at all like the bland lumpy green muck the usually passes for pea soup (no links to “The Exorcist” – too obvious. Well, maybe just one).

I love going to buy it because it’s on that stretch of Queen between University and Ossington that reminds me of when I used to live in Montreal and, aside from work, university, and the odd date or party, I hung out almost exclusively on St-Laurent between Ste-Catherine and Fairmount. Both streets have a sort of dirty class I like, with art galleries next to hardware shops next to shmancy restaurants next to fabric stores. It makes me feel all fuzzy and nostalgic to walk down Queen West.

I also like going there because of that very rustic service you only find in authentic delis, Eastern European shops, and the city of New York:

Cast:
Snobby - practically perfect in every way
Shopkeeper woman - 50ish with big, super-bleached hair, blue eye shadow to her eyebrows, magenta blush, and a glossy leopard-print scarf wrapped around her neck

Snobby: Excuse me. Can you tell me the difference between goulash soup and Serbian goulash soup?

Shopkeeper: Why you not read label? Serbian goulash is not soup. Serbian goulash is meal. Goulash soup is soup. That is difference.

Snobby: Um...I see. You forgot to tell me how stupid I am and to wish me a nice day.

Shopkeeper woman: (evil, slightly seductive little smile) Give me $9.40.

It’s a refreshing change from the oppressively hyper-polite service bad managers think people like that you usually get in this city.

And now I have pea soup and goulash and I swear that I see buds on the tree right outside my window.

Bon appétit.



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