scope and interests of this site are less local than international, but
experience is lived in the here and now. Down the hill from my apartment in
Montreal, you can find superb Quebec cheeses, breads, pies, meats, fruits,
vegetables, and handmade chocolates at the Atwater Market.
range of what’s available has benefited from arrivals from other countries, as
well. It used to be that you could get better Hungarian sausages in Montreal
than you could in Budapest. So many of the Hungarians have left, taking with
them their flourless cakes and their cafés, so I’m not sure that’s still true,
but others have arrived to take their place. Ingredients are now available here
to make dishes from across the globe, and there are now Iranian, Russian,
Georgian, Polish, Italian, Tamil, Vietnamese, Peruvian, Mexican, Chinese, Korean,
Japanese, Thai, Lebanese, and Ethiopian restaurants all within walking distance.
love Quebec produce and products and I love so much else we can get here, as
well. I love this place, the particular mix of what is from here and what comes
from far away. There is much more today that comes from afar, both the number
of immigrants and their variety having increased. All this is true not only of
Montreal. It’s true of Toronto and Edinburgh, Paris and Berlin, New York and
yes, we have to look after what makes this particular place different from every
other place. We don’t want Montreal to be just like Edinburgh, say, and that is
true no matter how much we might have reason to love Edinburgh. So yes, there
are challenges in looking after Montreal, in preserving what it is. These pale
in comparison with the challenges faced by new arrivals.
issues of how those of us from different cultures manage, or might better
manage, to share the same place are issues that preoccupy people across the
globe. Unsurprising, therefore, to find myself reading that Quebec historian
and sociologist Gérard Bouchard has announced a
symposium on “interculturalism” (http://www.symposium-interculturalisme.com/11/english/fr).
He and his associates distinguish the Quebec “interculturalism” from
English-Canadian “multiculturalism,” on grounds I might take issue with another
time, but one thing is evidently indisputable: “There is little need to
emphasize how the future of democratic societies depends on whether they will
successfully address the cultural, social and economic challenges raised by
That was yesterday, just
received essays on exile and on immigration from a friend in Italy. The exodus
of refugees from Libya is the leading news story today. It won’t be long before
one of those refugees moves into my building, and it won’t be long after that
before a Libyan restaurant opens up nearby.