Book Review – Tasty by John McQuaid

tastyLiver, blue cheese, candy, chili peppers. Some people like these foods, others loathe them. But why? How is it that some humans love sweets but hate hot stuff? How can some beer drinkers go crazy for hops while others prefer nothing but sweet, malty stouts? The secret goes beyond our tongues to our very DNA.

Tasty by John McQuaid explores the whole history of taste, starting hundreds of millions of years ago with trilobites and progressing through the stages of evolution. McQuaid does this through five meals that show the progress of vertebrates, touching on the use of tools and ultimately fire.

It also seems a lot changed for humans when we moved off the African continent into other areas of the world and discovered a wider variety of things to eat. As we evolved, people in different parts of the world developed different tastes and this happened within our very genes, creating various levels of tasting ability from super-tasters down to those folks whose taste buds offer little in the way of reaction, allowing them to drink bottles of hot sauce without breaking a sweat.

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Lucky Dip – Monday, March 5th, 2012

In Toronto:

The big food news this past weekend was that chefs Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth will be taking over the Niagara Street Cafe (169 Niagara Street) as of April 1st, renaming it Edulis. Caballo was the chef at Niagara Street until a few years ago when he and partner Nemeth (she was the chef de cuisine at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar) left Toronto to travel. After working at restaurants around the world, including in Tuscany and California, they’re returning to the city to run their own place.

Ici Bistro (538 Manning Avenue)  is closed until March 21st for staff vacations.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar has taken over the old Smokeless Joe’s location at 125 John Street and opens today.

Greg Clow got the scoop about Mill Street Brewpub opening a location in Pearson Airport. Basically, there will be no beer brewed onsite, but there will be a 130-seat pub with 10 Mill Street brands on tap. Get the full story at Canadian Beer News.

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Snack Attack – A Visit to 416 Snack Bar

The day before the opening of 416 Snack Bar (181 Bathurst Street), I was standing on a street corner in Little Portugal, eating a fried codfish ball and thinking, “man, Toronto really needs a chain of international snack food stores, because you should be able to stand on any corner in the city and eat a Portuguese cod fish ball, or a Tibetan momo, or some taktoyaki…”

Adrian Ravinsky and David Stewart, who have worked in some of Toronto’s top restaurants, were thinking along the same lines when they created their bar at Queen West and Bathurst. “Only with beer!” enthuses Ravinsky when I share my story. Indeed, a month in, with a packed house almost every night, it seems that we’re not the only ones thinking that way. 416 Snack Bar seems to have hit on something special.

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