07 October 2009
When do the Québecois have dîner? At exactly the same time as the French do. Except that with the 6 hour time difference between Paris and Montréal, it is really only midday in Québec when dîner comes around (In the evening, we enjoy souper here). And unlike the French, who cherish their long lunch breaks and indulge in multi-course meals, dîner tends to be a rather unglamourous affair over here. For most of my colleagues, it consists of a pre-packaged lunch carried from home in tupperwares and special, insulated lunch bags. I've spotted versions with the Habs logo, or my employer's tangerine insignia. Being the weird European (but no! I shout, I'm Swiss!), and taking advantage of the last warm-ish days, I have so far resisted this icky practice and insist on going out at lunchtime, if only to grab a sandwich at a neighborhood outlet. Over time, I have grown particularly fond of an excellent artisanal bakery not far away, the first visit to which I remember very well: As the smell of fresh bread lured me into the store, I could not help overhearing the shopkeeper having a rather private conversation on the phone, likely with her significant other. Not that she had been indiscreet: The chances of somebody walking into her store and eavesdropping on her conversation held in Swiss German (!) were admittedly slim... but there I was.
Over the last few months, I have become a good customer of Heidi (I'm not making this up) and her colleagues at the bakery, enjoying not only the European style sandwiches, pastries and bread loaves, but also the chit-chat in dialect that reminds me of the family bakery in the village I grew up at. Oh, and did I mention that the prices are just like at home as well?
Which is probably another reason why so many of my colleagues shun the grab-and-go option in favor of lunch brought in from home. Every month or so however, we manage to find the time as a department to sneak out of the office for a while longer, and enjoy a sit down lunch at a local restaurant. And even in the well-heeled neighborhood our office is located in, restaurants will inevitably offer a lunch menu including soup, starter, main course, and a small desert, for $12-15. And that's after tip + tax! As I digest these sizable servings, I continue to be amazed by such outstanding value, and especially the small difference in price to the sandwich option. Maybe I should put up an ad on the corporate blackboard: "WANTED! Ladies Who Lunch" ;-)
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