“Whoever’s in charge of promoting Canada abroad completely have their heads up their arses.” So says Anthony Bourdain, the American TV chef who’s visited Toronto for a show due to air in Canada next year, though you can watch it below:
He’s right, there’s a lot more to Canada than mounties, maple syrup and Celine Dion. Though, regarding Toronto, Bourdain seemed to take some winning over.
He starts off by slating the city’s architecture (“It’s not a good looking town…these architectural fads of the 20th century…Mussolini would be perfectly at home with that one…Soviet chic…butt ugly “) but ends up raving about its foodie culture, furtive bar scene and eclectic neighbourhoods.
He mainly seems to have been won over by his peameal bacon bap at St Lawrence Market, which is understandable, though personally I’d have taken him to Rashers in Leslieville, which seems to be the only place in Toronto that sells proper British-style bacon butties.
Anyway, the video’s quite fun, if you can stomach Bourdain’s scatological turn of phrase; it’s hard to imagine Delia or Floyd referring on air to mushrooms that “give you a big stiffy”or roti that causes a “burning a-hole”.
It actually doesn’t do a bad job of showing the “real” Toronto as a city comprising lots of different, slightly hidden, areas. T Dot’s not – and doesn’t try to be – a New York, or London, with their distinctive, all-encompassing branding.
Instead of fixating on the lack of iconic sights or tourist spots, it features some of my favourite neighbourhoods, like Kensington Market, Mirvish Village, Toronto Islands and Little Italy. The full list of restaurants and bars in the show are listed here.
And yeah, my first impression of Toronto’s architecture tallied with Bourdain’s, but high rise cities – even concrete ones – are often spectacular at night, and during the day the skyline looks pretty awesome from the islands.