A mostly true story, with recipes to follow, at some point.

16 Oct

We came to Canada in the late 1960’s to escape both the student riots in Paris which we found dirty, boring and unnecessary and our parents who were not dirty or boring, but were cultured, well dressed, and refined, but sadly, they were broke; their lack of capital made them unnecessary.  Our Papa who lost the family fortune in some unfortunate dealings with crooked diamond mine owners in South Africa, or so he said.  Our sweet Mama had only one wish and that was for my sister and I to marry well and restore the family’s dignity and fortune, but not in that order.  My sister Georgette and I couldn’t stand even the thought of marriage; we were too young, too pretty, too wild, so we fled, to Canada.  Georgette had once met a wild eyed poet with a head child like soft brown curls. He spoke French, he was from Quebec and he was a “fier separatiste.”  To us, Quebec seemed like a romantic place with lots of opportunity for independent women that we were; we were young, beautiful and French, what more would we need?

As it happened, we were unable to live off our good looks alone, unless we were willing to get married, which we were not.  We were hopeless when it came to the regular work during the day, getting up early was torture. Secretarial work was hazardous,  the ink from the typewriter ribbons ruined our clothes, and we were unable to tolerate the dirty old men pinching and patting our derrieres like they owned us.  It was me who always got us fired as I could not abide their base behavior, Georgette was more patient as she could put up with the occasional pinch in return for a good meal.  Something that we couldn’t afford on our own.  Luckily it was now the spring of 1967 and we were able to find work at the French Pavilion at Expo 67..  It was work that we were well suited for; socializing, talking about French culture and food and pouring glasses of French wine.  We loved it and it paid the bills, but all good things seem to come to an end and before we had saved any money, another winter was upon us and Expo 67 was over.  We were out of work again.  One night over cigarettes and coffee, Georgette and I made a list of the things that we liked to do and what we were good at doing; going to parties, giving parties, drinking wine, eating well, and as if we were both hit on the head by inspiration at the same time, we cried out, “a restaurant, we’ll open a restaurant.’  We were French after all and as everyone knows, the French know a thing or two about restaurants.

At about the same time ( I don’t remember exactly it was so long ago) things were starting to become so serious in Quebec; student protests, and the FLQ, people weren’t smiling in the streets as they once had.  We decided that unhappy people weren’t good for business, it was time to move again, but where to?  During the summer we had met a young woman whose job was serving bad wine at the Canadian Pavilion, she would often sneak over to ours to share glasses of good wine and cigarettes with us.  She was from a city in Ontario, London Ontario.  Georgette and I had always adored London England, we considered it a sign, it was our destiny.  We loaded up our unreliable Volkswagen Beetle, the one without any heat  and headed south west, at the very least, it would be warmer than Montreal.

To be continued…


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