Worth the risk

All day, I sat in a windowless meeting room in the basement of a hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia and listened to very important people talk about very important things. Immediately before the meeting my bowels had erupted, protesting as they often do to the change in input when I travel. I also forgot my acid reflux meds at home in Ottawa. And so the day began.

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What the inside of my stomach looks like when awash in acid reflux.

I sensibly ate half a sandwich at the lunch catered by the hotel, along with a spoonful of quinoa salad and a smidgen of beet and pear salad with baby kale festooning the bowl. Bravo for restraint. But half way through the afternoon, when I realized my audio recording was not working and I was without backup to replay and write minutes teased from the bafflegab zinging around the room faster than an e-coli outbreak, I turned to sugar – a chocolate fudge cake-pop, a lemon square, an oatmeal raisin cookie, and a two-bite date square. It saddened me that I would not be able to replay the sound of the mewing cat belonging to one meeting participant who joined by teleconference, but life is full of bitter disappointments such as this. As I self-soothed with sugar, a happy buzzing invaded my head and I tamped down tomorrow’s worries into that part of my brain swimming in a hot-tub of hormonal happiness.

The meeting ended at 6:30 and I dashed out, sprinted upstairs to my room, peeled off my pantyhose and wiggled out of my dress, pulled on jeans, sneakers, t-shirt, and coat and got the hell outside. That’s when the local smell smashed into my nostrils. Deep fried seafood. Fresh deep fried seafood. Grease aroma hung onto the hot air balloons of maritime mist. A magical alchemy of grease molecules attached to Halifax fog. (YHZ+H20) – glory fucking hallelujah.

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Where I got 3Sheets2TheWind

I found my way accidentally to a place called “2 Doors Down” which sounded close to “three sheets to the wind” (a town on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland) and which is exactly where I wanted to be. The menu posted outside called to me with a Radical Roots Salad consisting in part of “beet hummus”. Yes, it sounds a little like compost you might spread on your spring garden but believe me, the colour, and texture were more like exploded fresh liver (which I like) than sheep dung. And the texture was definitely reminiscent of chick peas, not poo, which, given my day, was a relief.

The beet hummus formed a mattress for the pickled carrot and radish doubloons scattered among leaves of baby arugula and kissed up to al dente barley beads scattered like parade candy across the Shriner’s float of food. I ordered a Chilean Errazuriz “Suav Blanc” (the waiter’s words) chilled to Arctic perfection. I used my pointer finger to clean up the beet mattress. The plate shone with my saliva.

Dinner, two fish tacos coated in panko (code for “you’re in a fancy restaurant and we don’t use breadcrumbs here”) came laid across two itsy bitsy flour taco shells  that if you cut a hole in the middle could serve as a poncho for a Barbie doll. A gentle red cabbage slaw with a jab of hot sauce tempered by sprigs of cilantro strategically placed like a fig leaf on Michaelangelo’s David decorated each taco. When the flavour of fresh fish clamped down on my tastebuds I nearly passed out with joy. I had another glass of wine to celebrate, a Demorgenzon DMS Chenin Blanc. I favoured the Z wines hoping for sleep to forget the minutes I’d have to fudge the following day.

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Tiny tasty fish tacos

Remorse for my choice assaulted me as I read the specials of the day too late. Fish pie. Oh my. And rhubarb trifle for dessert. I wanted to stay and live in a land of no consequences, indulge my inner glutton but then I remembered the bathroom on the Air Canada flight which had much in common with a construction site porta-potty and was so small my knees touched the door when I sat on the toilet. It was a sinkless cubbyhole with hand sanitizer bolted down to a ledge no wider than my wrist. A terrible place to lose your shit – or last night’s dinner. And while it might not be as rustic as a squat toilet in rural China, it ran a close second and was certainly smaller.

At the end of my feast, I hitched up my pants, snapped my coat over my slightly enlarged gullet and stepped outside again. Acid reflux and wine fought for supremacy as I gulped in heaps of tasty deep fried maritime air. Sometimes the risk is worth it.

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35 thoughts on “Worth the risk

  1. LOL, only you, dear S, could start a lovely foodie article with bowels erupting. I am a little squeamish right now because poor Perry upchucked a hairball teaming with worms like octopus legs yesterday, and I have been in a tizzie since. But some of these food STILL sounded good! lovely writing!

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    • Thank you, Luanne. I don’t think of myself as a foodie – I just like to eat! Poor ol’ Perry. I hope there’s something you can give him to take care of those worms. Dear lord – what a gross thing to have to encounter never mind have wriggling about in your belly.

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      • Right? And I don’t want to end up with them wriggling around in my belly. Poor poor Perry. He’s going stir crazy in the bathroom with nothing to do. I didn’t want him to have toys in there because they would probably end up too close to the litter box . . . .
        Oh, I love to eat, too, so nice job here!

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  2. I so enjoyed this post, and I’m definitely not a foodie. Just loved the good writing. FYI—I got my husband to start drinking kefir to help his GERD. He added it to his Nexium, and he hasn’t had an episode since.

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    • I had tiny fish tacos first in Ottawa, my home, and they were yummy and set me on my course of sampling them whenever I’m out of town. The ones in Halifax were the best yet, undoubtedly because the fish was fresh.

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  3. The expression ‘food porn’ is bantered around a lot, but in this case, it really suits the situation. Whew – I almost feel ‘dirty’ now 😉

    Oh my! I’m still catching my breath after “The beet hummus formed a mattress for the pickled carrot and radish doubloons scattered among leaves of baby arugula and kissed up to al dente barley beads scattered like parade candy across the Shriner’s float of food” ❤

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    • I thought about editing that rather long and goofy sentence but then laziness got the better of me. I regret not having a photo, too, but I was so hungry that I wolfed it down without any thought at all of blogging.

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  4. 1). I would give anything to hear that mewing cat in context 😂 2) you and I travel in much the same way … eat it then beat it. 3). Edible ponchos for Barbies …. marketing genius. As is this post – pure solid gold, blue chip, diamond encrusted genius from start to finish that just comes far too soon for me but probably soon enough for my neighbours being treated to a snorting hinny next door! Mille mercis 😘

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    • Oh gosh. I love the “snortworthy” rating! Acid reflux bites, eh? The meds help a lot but I do have to mind what I eat or it comes back to haunt me. (Fun with puns!) Some people manage it with home remedies like taking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar before meals but that didn’t cut it for me. Still, every now and then a woman needs something besides plain roasted chicken breasts and steamed veg. Cheers to gluttony!

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      • Amen sister! Having had a stomach ulcer in my early young adulthood I’ve had to be careful too – but sometimes dang-it-anyway – pass the peppers and pour the wine!! Love the “snortworthy” comment!!

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    • That bathroom was shockingly small. I consider myself an average sized woman and I can’t imagine a man of 6 feet tall shoe-horning himself into that space. And gone are the days of a tryst in an airplane bathroom – not that I ever did that. I’ve just read about them.

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  5. Damn, I’m glad I ate dinner before I read this! Delicious descriptions — oh my word!!!
    I have been restraining myself with soda, which is good. I have been making up for it in ice cream…not good.
    9 days without soda, nine gallons of ice cream. Not really, but that’s how it feels. lol
    There are just some times when you need to indulge without remorse! You had a big foodie day!

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    • You always come up with the best phrases –
      “indulging without remorse.” I’m not sure I’m there yet, but its an excellent goal! Good for you for reducing soda intake. I suspect that’s a habit as hard to kick as giving up coffee. I, too, am a big fan of ice cream. My very first paying job was at a Dairy Queen.

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      • I think even at 16, I had the foresight and wisdom to know working in an ice cream parlor would be bad for me. I worked at cookies in the mall instead. Can’t stand icing. lol

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    • Did you ever do sewing classes in school, Donna? I remember a Simplicity pattern from the 70’s that was essentially a circle with a hole in the middle. I believe my mom, in fact, made a Barbie poncho on that idea. Art imitating life and all that!

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  6. Such a great read in your series of brilliant, droll travel/food essays, Susanne. I now know the true definition of “panko” and, seriously, what is it with airline toilets? Thanks for making me laugh. Out loud. Several times. A Barbie poncho, indeed … xo Melissa

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    • If you gotta travel for work you might as well turn it into a blog post, right? By the end of June I will have crisscrossed Canada coast to coast. I hope I find more good restaurants along the way but if not, I can always spin a story out of the large man I saw in the Halifax airport, trying on a “Maritime Lifestyle” sweatshirt, his belly spilling over his jeans which were held up by suspenders and who, after acquiring a flattering navy blue incarnation, proceeded to the adjacent bar. It was 7:30 a.m.

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    • I heart you too, Maggie. I’d do the heart but I can’t figure out how. That thing looks too be some kind of homemade ice cream sandwich. I’m also lactose intolerant and while I do occasionally indulge in ice-cream, I do so only in the comfort of my own home – and bathroom.

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