November 10th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

The Art of Eating

A few weeks ago, I began to consciously look for interesting places and ways of reading about food. Having discovered that I really enjoy reading discussions about anything food-related, I looked for recommendations of well-written texts, for much of the joy of reading is in the beauty of the language.

In the process, I discovered a journal called The Art of Eating. It's a quarterly journal with one flat subscription rate for anywhere in the world, a welcome pricing feature for those of us who don't know where we'll be living next year. The journal is one man's pet project, but a number of other writers contribute to it.

My first copy arrived in the mail yesterday and it was, as promised by whatever websites I found the recommendations on, very nicely written, a pleasure to read.

The current issue is themed around Beaujolais, the wines, and the cooking specialties of the greater Lyonnais area. The most striking anecdote in the article thus far dealt with a woman, Mère Brazier, owner and cook for two three-Michelin-rosette restaurants from 1933-1974. (She opened her first restaurant in 1921; it received its third rosette in 1933.) Technically, this means she received six rosettes in total.

Now the Michelin rosette for food is one of the most difficult-to-attain and highly sought after rewards for consistently high-quality cooking in the world, especially in France. Three stars comprise the highest ranking.

Mère Brazier is still, today, the only female chef, the only woman, to ever have received three rosettes from Michelin.

I knew that the world of high-level chefs was still very much male dominated, but not to what degree.
Fishy Circumstances

A4

I didn't have high hopes when I went shopping for A4-sized paper today.

The U.S. and Canada use 8 1/2 x 11 paper as standard. Europe uses A4, and I'm under the impression - based on no concrete evidence - that most of the rest of the world does as well. But 8 1/2 x 11 is standard here, so that's what all the shops sell. That, and legal sized paper.

I started off at Staples. The sales assistant assured me they stocked A4, but had to go find a manager to find out where. He came back disappointed. They didn't stock it after all, but I hadn't expected they would.

Grand and Toy was the obvious next stop, the Avenue and Bloor branch. As I walked over, I pondered what specialty stationary stores were nearby, in case they had it. The sales assistant at Grand and Toy was confused. I think she thought I'd said "84", meaning the weight of the paper. Once she realized she had no idea what I was on about, she sent me to the order desk at the back. I treasured vague hopes that some other one of their downtown stores might have stock.

But then the manager commented that she thought they had some in stock... and they did! I found A4 paper in Toronto! And the sales assistant gave me 5% off for having misguided me.

I don't know why a Canadian store stocked A4, but I needed it, they had it, and I went away a very happy customer.