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):
Defining common cultural literacy for an increasingly diverse nation.
Is the culture war over?
That seems an absurd question. This is an age when Confederate monuments still stand; when white-privilege denialism is surging on social media; when legislators and educators in Arizona and Texas propose banning ethnic studies in public schools and assign textbooks euphemizing the slave trade; when fear of Hispanic and Asian immigrants remains strong enough to prevent immigration reform in Congress; when the simple assertion that #BlackLivesMatter cannot be accepted by all but is instead contested petulantly by many non-blacks as divisive, even discriminatory.
And that’s looking only at race. Add gender, guns, gays, and God to the mix and the culture war seems to be raging along quite nicely.
In 1992, the neuroscientist Richard Davidson got a challenge from the Dalai Lama. By that point, he’d spent his career asking why people respond to, in his words, “life’s slings and arrows” in different ways. Why are some people more resilient than others in the face of tragedy? And is resilience something you can gain through practice?
The Dalai Lama had a different question for Davidson when he visited the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader at his residence in Dharamsala, India. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear. Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’ … I did not have a very good answer. I said it was hard.”
A new book by the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne tackles arguments that the two institutions are compatible.
In May 1988, a 13-year-old girl named Ashley King was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital by court order. She had a tumor on her leg—an osteogenic sarcoma—that, writes Jerry Coyne in his book Faith Versus Fact, was “larger than a basketball,” and was causing her leg to decay while her body started to shut down. Ashley’s Christian Scientist parents, however, refused to allow doctors permission to amputate, and instead moved their daughter to a Christian Science sanatorium, where, in accordance with the tenets of their faith, “there was no medical care, not even pain medication.” Ashley’s mother and father arranged a collective pray-in to help her recover—to no avail. Three weeks later, she died.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
Former Senator Jim Webb is the fifth Democrat to enter the race—and by far the most conservative one.
In a different era’s Democratic Party, Jim Webb might be a serious contender for the presidential nomination. He’s a war hero and former Navy secretary, but he has been an outspoken opponent of recent military interventions. He’s a former senator from Virginia, a purple state. He has a strong populist streak, could appeal to working-class white voters, and might even have crossover appeal from his days as a member of the Reagan administration.
In today’s leftward drifting Democratic Party, however, it’s hard to see Webb—who declared his candidacy Thursday—getting very far. As surprising as Bernie Sanders’s rise in the polls has been, he looks more like the Democratic base than Webb does. The Virginian is progressive on a few major issues, including the military and campaign spending, but he’s far to the center or even right on others: He's against affirmative action, supports gun rights, and is a defender of coal. During the George W. Bush administration, Democrats loved to have him as a foil to the White House. It’s hard to imagine the national electorate will cotton to him in the same way. Webb’s statement essentially saying he had no problem with the Confederate battle flag flying in places like the grounds of the South Carolina capitol may have been the final straw. (At 69, he’s also older than Hillary Clinton, whose age has been a topic of debate, though still younger than Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden.)
The Fourth of July—a time we Americans set aside to celebrate our independence and mark the war we waged to achieve it, along with the battles that followed. There was the War of 1812, the War of 1833, the First Ohio-Virginia War, the Three States' War, the First Black Insurrection, the Great War, the Second Black Insurrection, the Atlantic War, the Florida Intervention.
Confused? These are actually conflicts invented for the novel The Disunited States of Americaby Harry Turtledove, a prolific (and sometimes-pseudonymous) author of alternate histories with a Ph.D. in Byzantine history. The book is set in the 2090s in an alternate United States that is far from united. In fact, the states, having failed to ratify a constitution following the American Revolution, are separate countries that oscillate between cooperating and warring with one another, as in Europe.
The executive producer of Masterpiece says Jane Austen works a lot better on screen than Hemingway does.
For 44 years, PBS’s Masterpiece franchise has brought high-end Britain TV programs to American audiences. While the ultra-successful Downton Abbey comes from an original screenplay, many of Masterpiece’s shows over the years have been adapted from great works of literature. And the vast majority of those great works of literature, unsurprisingly, have been British.
But every so often, an American novel—like James Agee’s A Death in the Family or Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark—has been turned into a Masterpiece. On Friday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Rebecca Eaton, the longtime executive producer of Masterpiece, said she wished that the program had tackled more U.S. authors over the years. “The reasons that we haven't are twofold,” she said. “One is money, the second is money. And the third is money. Also, the dark nature of American literature, which is something to think about for a moment."
The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.
This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.
Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.
For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?
1. Youngstown, U.S.A.
The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977.
For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.
How a re-creation of its most famous battle helped erase the meaning of the Civil War.
"No person should die without seeing this cyclorama," declared a Boston man in 1885. "It's a duty they owe to their country." Paul Philippoteaux's lifelike depiction of the Battle of Gettysburg was much more than a painting. It re-created the battlefield with such painstaking fidelity, and created an illusion so enveloping, that many visitors felt as if they were actually there.
For all its verisimilitude, though, the painting failed to capture the deeper truths of the Civil War. It showed the two armies in lavish detail, but not the clash of ideals that impelled them onto the battlefield. Its stunning rendition of a battle utterly divorced from context appealed to a nation as eager to remember the valor of those who fought as it was to forget the purpose of their fight. Its version of the conflict proved so alluring, in fact, that it changed the way America remembered the Civil War.