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36 Hours in Montreal - NYT [split from Quebec board]

good timing; did the new york times get it right:
http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/...

[Note: This thread was split from the Quebec board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/727104 -- The Chowhound Team]

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  1. This article reads like they copy-pasted a press release from Tourism Montreal. The whole "Most European city in North-America" business and the idiotic Paris references are such a load of crap.

    Quebec is not France. It's nothing like France. Not even close. Sure we speak the same language and we have a lot French restaurants. So what? French culture is as exotic to us as it is to Americans. We're North-Americans. We don't eat baguettes and camembert. We eat sliced bread from a plastic bag and Kraft singles. This romantic notion that we are some sort of lost tribe preserving French tradition in our little part of the world is mostly bull. None of this French stuff was even around a few decades ago. It's the result of French immigration or Quebecois who went to France and brought it back with them.

    If you come to Montreal for the French culture, you're missing the point of coming here. This city is not some sort of ParisWorld theme park. It's a safe, friendly city with lots of culture, lots of good food and a few nice parks. It's multi-cultural and open-minded. It's also kind of ugly and dirty, but it's my city and I love it. This city is lots of things, but one thing it isn't is Mini-Paris.

    Sorry If I seem to be overreacting to what is after all just a fluff travel piece, but hearing this sort of bull*!#% all the time, whether it's from Tourism Montreal deliberately misleading people or naive tourists regurgitating it, can really get a guy worked up.

    8 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      I agree with the article, Montreal does have a lot of european charm and culture.
      it's just not like any other north american city. I totally understand how people equate it to a mini Paris, when I walk in Old Montreal it does remind me of certain areas of Paris, little Italy is charming and the Mile End does have a Marais vibe, as do certain other areas.
      A whole issue of Gourmet magazine was dedicated to Montreal a few years ago
      and I still refer to it.

      No, Mtl is not a Paris World theme park, I agree with you Snackhappy about that,
      but it has it's own vibe of diversity and charm, not unlike Paris but on a much smaller scale.

      I live in Mtl and am often in awe of how quaint it is, am also proud of how it presents itself to tourists.

      1. re: SnackHappy

        down boy. the baguette is as omni present here in montreal as the sourdough loaf is in san francisco

        1. re: celfie

          That doesn't make the baguette any more Quebecois. It just shows that we are open to foreign influence and that many of us are Francophiles. There's sushi in practically every grocery store in this province. Does that mean we're Japanese?

          1. re: SnackHappy

            You are, of course, right, SnackHappy. In the '70s, baguettes were rare birds made by only a few French-leaning bakeries (Pat Bèlge and Duc de Lorraine were two classic sources for both baguettes and croissants). An inferior, vaguely baguette-like bread was sold in some grocery stores but it was ubiquitously referred to as "pain Coussin." Most people's breakfast was sliced bread sold in plastic bags toasted and spread with peanut butter or with butter and jam (or sometimes all three). Baguettes gained prominence in the '80s and '90s with the rise in various socio-cultural trends (food and wine awareness, celebration of the "fait français," etc.) and expansion of chain bakeries like Au Pain Doré and Première Moisson. I also wonder whether a contributing factor wasn't the concurrent arrival of other French imports like raw-milk cheeses, mouleries and, above all, bistros.

            Ah, yes, bistros. There essentially were none until L'Express opened in the late '70s (IIRC). Yet more support for your thesis.

        2. re: SnackHappy

          I don't really agree with SnackHappy. No, we aren't Paris, but we ARE la Nouvelle France in the same sense as Boston is New England, and we eat a lot more baguettes and semi-soft cheeses of the camembert type than most places in English-speaking North America do.

          Of course Québec is North American, but it is a distinct society. (Remember that Mexico is also in North America). One doesn't come to Montréal expecting Paris, but you have overreacted, denying our identity. Sure it has developed over the years - so have all national and cultural identities.

          1. re: lagatta

            No, he's affirmed Quebec's identity. Montreal is not mock France any more than Boston is mock England (maybe even less so, since truck with the Hexagon was virtually non-existent from 1759 through the middle of the 20th century). And the original point -- that presenting Montreal as Paris for NYers who don't have time or money for a trans-Atlantic flight amounts to the Disneyfication of a unique city and culture that are interesting in their own right -- is absolutely spot-on.

            1. re: carswell

              Well, I disagree, but all opinions are valid on these boards if relevant to food culture and presented politely. Of course we aren't "mock France", but we are a distinct French-speaking culture and society.

          2. re: SnackHappy

            Amen, Snackhappy! Hated that piece for the same reasons.

          3. Well, it's not so bad...though how is Il Motore east of Divan Orange and I wouldn't say Habitat is on the Lachine Canal. Also, I hate when they used dated terms like "techno" and "rave" to describe Montreal's music. But I have a food related question:

            How does the $50 roast chicken meal at Chez Simon compare to the <$20 whole chicken at Romado's? Is it really that much better or are you just paying for ambiance?

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodinspace

              i find montreal very much like france or parts of france even more so than other cities in rest of canada, baguettes and camembert or brie are a tradition in our family meals and I avoid kraft cheese. I think it is fine for people to come here and see comparisons with france, to me it is complementary, each to his own I guess. But it has much less to offer than france, a much larger country and there are uniqueness of course and north american influence. We should play it up even more the french connections, we need tourist dollars and the restaurants in neighbourhoods are often deserted. I find there has been some really postive coverage recently, nice article in globe and mail last week about restaurants, changes in city

            2. Montreal is to Paris as Dakar is to Paris--sophisticated and provincial. You can get a good croissant in either city, but try to find a braised moose nose in Paris. Oh yeah, there's also that bizarre accent.

              1. Hi folks, please pardon the interruption.

                We've had to remove some posts from this thread that weren't focused on food, and others that were unfriendly and attacky towards other posters. Please keep your replies focused on the chow, and please keep them civil. Thanks.

                1. Montreal is a unique city that offers almost every dinning experience you could want. We have the friendliest people and the most beautiful women. Our food staples are as most North American cities but you should try poutine and Dunn's Famous Smoked Meat on Metcalfe near St Catherines in downtown Montreal... Those Are World Famous.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: deanmarc

                    While there are a lot of things I enjoy about Dunn's I would suggest there are other places in town that do better poutine.

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      If you read deanmarc's post more closely, it is not saying "try the poutine at Dunn's"; it's saying "try poutine, and try Dunn's famous smoked meat". I'll go out on a limb, and suggest that English is not his/her first language. A comma after "poutine" would have made the meaning clear.

                      1. re: FrankD

                        Ah yes you're absolutely right. Thanks FrankD :)

                    2. re: deanmarc

                      and let's not forget Moishe's Steak House.