To read more about Terrence's American Food Tour, click here.
After a few too many hours in the car on Sunday (nine, to be exact) we arrived safely in Montreal and set out for what may well be a perfect first 24 hours of eating and drinking in Canada's cultural capital.
First, a late dinner at L'Express, a traditionally-styled bistro in the Plateau neighborhood. Fatigue caused me to forget my camera, but I'll have a hard time forgetting my onglet topped with shallot butter, cooked to a perfect medium rare and served with fries and mayonnaise (made with olive oil, which added a hint of delicacy to an otherwise-heavy side). A young Bourdeaux, a hearty country vegetable soup, and plenty of cracking baguette and tart cornichons between courses made this an ideal introduction to Montreal, and the perfect way to start recovering from a little too much time on the road.
The morning began with an excursion to Cafe Olimpico, in the Mile End neighborhood, which struck me as the anti-Starbucks: one barista, who also works the register; no milk-bomb lattes or frappes; not even any drip coffee -- just espresso, cappuccino, and cafe au lait. Skim milk? Not here -- it's whole or nothing. Outside, a welcoming coffee version of the beer garden, with a lively social scene. I was a bit put off by the pre-packaged croissants at the counter, but apparently you're allowed to bring in outside food, and there are numerous tempting patisseries nearby.
"Smoked Meat Sandwich" at Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen
This was a knockout. Tender brisket, not too salty or smoky, with a full beefy flavor. A nice bit of mustard to cut into the fat, and a soft white bread to keep it all together. The brisket is smoked daily, and in the front window of the main cafe you can see a number of them piled on top of each other, waiting to be your next sandwich (which sells for $5.50 Canadian, or about $4.75 US). There is one huge problem at Schwartz's, however -- the line:
The Lunch Line at Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen
This was taken at the height of the lunch rush, shortly before 1 p.m., so I can only hope that the line gets shorter in the off-peak hours. But I doubt it -- this place is justifiably famous, and I won't be surprised if I stop by sometime this week after midnight and find an even bigger crowd.
We opted instead for the take-out/eat-in counter next door, which serves the same sandwich, but without the line (at least at the time of our visit). I have a feeling we'll be getting more of Schwartz's brisket to go when we leave Montreal later this week, for some killer sandwiches on the road.
But how do you follow a lunch like this? By following something old-school with a modern dessert, Cayenne Hot Chocolate at Suite 88 Chocolatier:
Cayenne Drinking Chocolate at Suite 88 Chocolatier
I know it doesn't make much sense to get hot cocoa mid-summer, but for much of today there was a light chill, and I am a sucker for anything where spicy meets sweet. This hot chocolate was made with a bar of dark chocolate, some steamed milk, and a healthy dose of cayenne mixed in at the end. Nothing terribly original, but certainly terribly delicious. For something more summery, there are numerous truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels, and marshmallow lollipops with a chocolate coating.
Next was a refueling stop at Bieres Et Compaigne, a short walk from Suite 88 (Dieu du Ciel will have to wait til tomorrow, as it was closed today). Pints of Unibroue beers were on special for about $3.50 US -- I opted for the Maudite, a Belgian dark ale, while my better half went for the fruity (and more seasonally-apt) Ephemere Blackcurrant. I don't normally go for fruit beers, but this was a welcome surprise, with a nice undertone of blackcurrant that didn't overwhelm, and wasn't too perfume-y or sweet:
Unibroue Ephemere Blackcurrant
For dinner? Since Monday seems to be a sleepy day here, we made a trip to Jean Talon Market for provisioning, picking up four cornish hens, some raw milk goat cheese, haricot verts, and a few bulbs of fresh garlic. We also grabbed some strawberries and blueberries for breakfast tomorrow (which we'll have with bagels, of course):
Should you drink more coffee? Should you take melatonin? Can you train yourself to need less sleep? A physician’s guide to sleep in a stressful age.
During residency, Iworked hospital shifts that could last 36 hours, without sleep, often without breaks of more than a few minutes. Even writing this now, it sounds to me like I’m bragging or laying claim to some fortitude of character. I can’t think of another type of self-injury that might be similarly lauded, except maybe binge drinking. Technically the shifts were 30 hours, the mandatory limit imposed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, but we stayed longer because people kept getting sick. Being a doctor is supposed to be about putting other people’s needs before your own. Our job was to power through.
The shifts usually felt shorter than they were, because they were so hectic. There was always a new patient in the emergency room who needed to be admitted, or a staff member on the eighth floor (which was full of late-stage terminally ill people) who needed me to fill out a death certificate. Sleep deprivation manifested as bouts of anger and despair mixed in with some euphoria, along with other sensations I’ve not had before or since. I remember once sitting with the family of a patient in critical condition, discussing an advance directive—the terms defining what the patient would want done were his heart to stop, which seemed likely to happen at any minute. Would he want to have chest compressions, electrical shocks, a breathing tube? In the middle of this, I had to look straight down at the chart in my lap, because I was laughing. This was the least funny scenario possible. I was experiencing a physical reaction unrelated to anything I knew to be happening in my mind. There is a type of seizure, called a gelastic seizure, during which the seizing person appears to be laughing—but I don’t think that was it. I think it was plain old delirium. It was mortifying, though no one seemed to notice.
As I mentioned in this post in late November, and in this followup, and also in a discussion with Diane Rehm on her new podcast series yesterday, Donald Trump’s lies differ from those we have encountered from other national figures, even Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton during their respective impeachments. The difference is that Trump seemingly does not care that evidence is immediately at hand to disprove what he says. If he believes what he’s saying, at least in that moment, why shouldn’t we?
For the record, the latest entry of this sort is the repeated insistence by Trump and his associates that he won a “landslide” or “major” victory. For instance, this was his transition team’s response to reports of Russian attempts to swing the election in his favor:
How Vladimir Putin is making the world safe for autocracy
Since the end of World War II, the most crucial underpinning of freedom in the world has been the vigor of the advanced liberal democracies and the alliances that bound them together. Through the Cold War, the key multilateral anchors were NATO, the expanding European Union, and the U.S.-Japan security alliance. With the end of the Cold War and the expansion of NATO and the EU to virtually all of Central and Eastern Europe, liberal democracy seemed ascendant and secure as never before in history.
Under the shrewd and relentless assault of a resurgent Russian authoritarian state, all of this has come under strain with a speed and scope that few in the West have fully comprehended, and that puts the future of liberal democracy in the world squarely where Vladimir Putin wants it: in doubt and on the defensive.
The same part of the brain that allows us to step into the shoes of others also helps us restrain ourselves.
You’ve likely seen the video before: a stream of kids, confronted with a single, alluring marshmallow. If they can resist eating it for 15 minutes, they’ll get two. Some do. Others cave almost immediately.
This “Marshmallow Test,” first conducted in the 1960s, perfectly illustrates the ongoing war between impulsivity and self-control. The kids have to tamp down their immediate desires and focus on long-term goals—an ability that correlates with their later health, wealth, and academic success, and that is supposedly controlled by the front part of the brain. But a new study by Alexander Soutschek at the University of Zurich suggests that self-control is also influenced by another brain region—and one that casts this ability in a different light.
The personality test isn't perfect, but it plays to people's desire to understand themselves and others.
A group of young adults shyly meet for the first time on the second floor of an empty Manhattan shopping mall. The stores are all closed for the weekend, and other than a man stopping in the lobby to read his phone, this group is the only sign of activity.
“I actually really like clubbing,” shares one guy.
The group goes silent.
“Get out of the circle,” a woman whispers.
Everyone in this group took the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a personality test. They all tested as the same type (one that tends to be introverted), joined an online group for others who got the same result, and decided to meet up.
Which explains why they’re meeting in an empty food court: It’s perfect for a group of people who like quietude. In this crowd of 20-something New Yorkers, the clubber is, truly, an oddball.
A profanity-filled new self-help book argues that life is kind of terrible, so you should value your actions over your emotions.
Put down the talking stick. Stop fruitlessly seeking "closure" with your peevish co-worker. And please, don't bother telling your spouse how annoying you find their tongue-clicking habit—sometimes honesty is less like a breath of fresh air and more like a fart. That’s the argument of Michael Bennett and Sarah Bennett, the father-daughter duo behind the new self-help book F*ck Feelings.
The elder Bennett is a psychiatrist and American Psychiatric Association distinguished fellow. His daughter is a comedy writer. Together, they provide a tough-love, irreverent take on “life's impossible problems.” The crux of their approach is that life is hard and negative emotions are part of it. The key is to see your “bullshit wishes” for just what they are (bullshit), and instead to pursue real, achievable goals.
I traveled to every country on earth. In some cases, the adventure started before I could get there.
Last summer, my Royal Air Maroc flight from Casablanca landed at Malabo International Airport in Equatorial Guinea, and I completed a 50-year mission: I had officially, and legally, visited every recognized country on earth.
This means 196 countries: the 193 members of the United Nations, plus Taiwan, Vatican City, and Kosovo, which are not members but are, to varying degrees, recognized as independent countries by other international actors.
In five decades of traveling, I’ve crossed countries by rickshaw, pedicab, bus, car, minivan, and bush taxi; a handful by train (Italy, Switzerland, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, and Greece); two by riverboat (Gabon and Germany); Norway by coastal steamer; Gambia and the Amazonian parts of Peru and Ecuador by motorized canoe; and half of Burma by motor scooter. I rode completely around Jamaica on a motorcycle and Nauru on a bicycle. I’ve also crossed three small countries on foot (Vatican City, San Marino, and Liechtenstein), and parts of others by horse, camel, elephant, llama, and donkey. I confess that I have not visited every one of the 7,107 islands in the Philippine archipelago or most of the more than 17,000 islands constituting Indonesia, but I’ve made my share of risky voyages on the rickety inter-island rustbuckets you read about in the back pages of the Times under headlines like “Ship Sinks in Sulu Sea, 400 Presumed Lost.”
When you’re alone in a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, the simplest question becomes the most complicated: How do you fill a day?
A couple of years ago, I woke to three birds circling over my body, barking. I’d been sleeping in a bivouac, a kind of raincoat for a sleeping bag, camped in the tundra of Alaska’s Kantishna Hills. I unzipped the bivouac and popped my head out, peering up as the eerie silhouetted birds swooped toward me. The moon was a low and yellow sliver in the eastern sky; clouds to the northwest stacked in electric oranges and dark purples.
The birds' bodies stretched wide, their faces were flat. I could see faint stripes on the undersides of their extended wings. One of them landed on my food canister nearby and hissed. The other two circled about fifteen feet above the ground. They rose, then dove toward me, then rose and circled once more. They kept a rhythm: every few circles, one of them plunged toward me again. They eyed me from above, barking all the while like angry watchdogs. When one came close enough to claw at me, I flung my arms overhead and screamed, “Stop! What’s wrong! Go away! Please!”
A chain helmed by the nominee for labor secretary has unseated Chick-Fil-A as the perfect encapsulation of this cultural moment.
Despite his predilections for KFC or taco bowls, or his appearances in ads for Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, the president-elect is really a Carl’s Jr. kind of guy. The California-based chain is best known for its oversized burgers, hypersexualized ads, and confusing affiliation with Hardee’s—the fast-food chain it acquired back in 1997. Like Trump, Carl’s Jr. aspires to flashiness and brashly appeals to men. It’s slogan? Eat Like You Mean It. Trump made this unspoken kinship official on Thursday, when he announced Andy Puzder, the longtime CEO of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, as his choice for labor secretary.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.