In 1987, my sister moved to Montreal to attend McGill University. She spent several years there and during that time, I was fortunate enough to be one of her room mates. It was the summer of 1988 and I was extremely excited to be making the move. I hadn’t saved a lot of money and what I did bring, didn’t last very long.

There are too many things to see and do in a place like Montreal!  Prior to my courageous transition, my income was directly proportioned to how many hours I worked. At that time, in Halifax, it was easily increased at will. In Montreal, there was one small problem. I didn’t speak French. Employment didn’t come quickly. Communication came first. 

Needless to say, the well ran dry very rapidly and my eating and shopping habits metamorphosed. Fortunately, my sister was a ‘foodie’ before it was even popular and her curious instincts and aspirations for healthy, tasty nourishment prevailed. We owe thanks to parents for this every day. 

She introduced me to an enormous range of practical and flavourful sustenance … Most of which, I had never experienced before. We ate well and inexpensively. Avocado and sprouts on pita, hand crafted dressings for fresh greens, tiny, sizzling balls of chickpea and fava beans, drizzled with rich tahini, charred skewers of oregano marinated chicken, smothered with thick, minted yogurt, chunks of fresh tomato, cucumber and a generous amount of garlic. We ate like royalty!  

One of our most favourite staples … Soft, warm sesame bagels from Saint Viateur Bagels. You see, they baked them all the time, day and night, every day. A piping hot, savoury little piece of heaven was available any time that it was craved. Oh, there was a show to go along with the treat. You could watch intently, as you awaited your bagel of choice … The enthralling magic and precise speed with which these delightful little toasted rolls were created. It is truly fascinating to behold!

My montreal2husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Saint Viateur, recently. The fresh, nutty aroma and welcoming heat of this bustling hub of bagel ‘utopia’ brought back so many wonderful memories. We bought too many, ate them too quickly and are wishing we had more! Please share your stories of favourite, early staples.

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