Spadina Garden

Jews. They eat Chinese food on Sunday nights. It’s even in Clive’s book!

I’m in Toronto. For Canadian Music Week. I had a rather uneventful flight in, although I did notice there was constantly a queue for the bathroom, are two loos in a 737 enough? And the flight attendants, they had attitude. Remember when gas used to come with service? Not long from now you’re gonna go on the plane and get your own drinks. Then again, why drinks and no food? I know, they’ll charge you NOT to clean up. Buying an airline ticket is no longer a simple feat. The extras are both dazzling and daunting. And despite being Gold on American, I learned in the paper that on certain flights, 80% of the passengers have priority access. Yup, they sold that too, used to be you had to EARN your status. No more!

And we waited an hour in immigration. When I say we, I mean me and Ralph Simon. I’ve never waited this long before, but it gave us a chance to catch up. Once upon a time a publisher, Clive Calder’s partner, Ralph is now a majordomo in the mobile business. And he still has roots in Africa. He squired a dignitary to the TED conference. What Ralph liked most about TED was the access. You wanted to talk to Sergey, he was RIGHT THERE!

And, Ralph gave me a copy of Prince Rupert Loewenstein’s book. You know, the Stones’ financial advisor. It just came out in the U.K.

And after getting Candice’s life story on the drive in, Jake and I went to Spadina Garden.

Yes, it’s about life stories. That’s what’s most fascinating about this traveling circus known as rock and roll. You think it’s about the music, but if you’re in it you know it’s about the people.

Jake wanted to take me for sushi.

But after telling Larry LeBlanc about Spadina Garden, the Chinese restaurant right around the block, where Cohl used to hang out, I asked him, WHY AREN’T WE GOING THERE?

It’s Cantonese!

We didn’t know from Hunan back in the sixties. We thought there was only one kind of Chinese food. The only difference was the locations.

My mother never cooked on Sunday night. We always went out. Usually Chinese, sometimes Italian.

The pizza in Bridgeport…

Pizza is kind of like bagels, it’s been bastardized. Pizza is a round pie with a very thin crust underneath and a huge brown crust on the outside that is laden with tomato sauce, cheese and an oil slick on top. If you lift a piece with one hand, the toppings slide off. If you eat a bite as soon as you sit down, the roof of your mouth is scarred for a week.

Yes, we had toppings back in Connecticut. Sausage more than pepperoni. And green peppers. And ONIONS! I LOVE onions! Remember that Soupy Sales character, Onions Oregano?

Now I’m getting way too far off point.

But of course I’ll eat Cantonese, I want to be in touch with my roots.

Yup, one thing about Jews, we’re tribal. You can grow up in New York or Toronto or Calgary, but we all speak the same language.

Which brings me back to bagels…

A bagel is first and foremost plain, otherwise referred to as a “water bagel.” If you’re not risking a broken tooth when you first bite down, throw it away. The inside should be chewy. There should be substance. If you think the bagel is related to bread, soft and doughy, then it’s not a bagel.

Jews all know from Chinese food. I’m not sure of the history, but if you find a Jew who doesn’t know how to order at a Chinese restaurant, he’s a convert!

And Jake wants ribs…

That’s the first thing that entices you as a little kid, the spare ribs. You make your parents order them. They get burned out on them, but you never do. They’re nothing like BBQ, they’re thin and red and there’s very little meat, but boy are they delicious.

But in Toronto, it turns out the ribs are fried. Who knew? This old dog can always learn new tricks.

And Jake ordered Szechuan chicken, and green beans, and then he asked me if I wanted any soup.

SOUP! They’ve got war wonton soup?

I don’t know when they decided to call it “war,” it was just “wonton” growing up, but it’s still the same. You’ve got a liquid just this side of dishwater, with some snap peas, a bit of pork and dumplings. To eat wonton soup is to be jetted back to my youth, to make me believe life isn’t about acquisitions, but experiences.


Huh? I’d never heard of it. And my corn days are through, I don’t need that much starch, but I haven’t had corn soup since the sixties, when every now and then I had corn chowder… SURE!

I’m that kind of eater. If you believe in it, I’ll try it.

And that was the highlight of the night, the corn chowder soup. There was very little corn, but a ton of egg drop, which I normally hate, but was perfect this evening. And a bit of chicken. Jake says it’s even better with crab, but this was pretty damn good.

But what made it better was the hot sauce. You know, that seedy pasty stuff that’s too hot for amateurs? Jake ordered some of that and stirred it in the soup.

Hell, I’m up for adventure!

And I LOVE heat!

I just couldn’t stop eating it.

Not that it needed to be featured on Triple-D, but the whole experience titillated me and warmed my heart.

Yes, warm.

It’s freezing cold in Toronto. It may be the first day of spring, but there were flurries in the air when I landed.

And you need your winter coat, and some gloves and a hat. And when you walk inside you stamp your feet and let the heat wash over you. And food is not only sustenance, but a way to warm yourself from the inside.

So we’re sitting in this dump of a place, with Formica tables, they could clear it out and turn it into a drugstore overnight, and the lights are bright and I’m eating way too much, even though I’m almost hungry again, and we’re talking about our lives and I tell myself…

I’m right where I wanna be.

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