The Genuine Marriage Test – And Why I’d Fail

wedding
December 31st, 2007. Our friend John performs our wedding ceremony. I rock a wedding boa. Greg still has hair.

First, an upfront – my marriage isn’t technically “genuine” since Greg and I never bothered with a license. In Canada, common law relationships carry the same legal status as married, so there is no financial benefit to paying for the piece of paper if you are a Canadian citizen. So while we’d immediately set off flags if one of us was originally from another country, no eyelashes were batted when it came to the legality of how we chose to “wed”, and as far as we’re concerned we are married and have been so for over 17 years.

But according to this piece in the Toronto Star, if one member of the couple happens to be an immigrant, you’d best be sure that you: have an actual diamond ring, kiss in your wedding photo, have a big reception (not at a restaurant, pub or home), and take a honeymoon immediately after your ceremony and be sure it’s to some place far away… because not doing any of these could mean that your wedding is not about love, but that you’re helping someone to enter and live in Canada illegally.

I don’t need to outline why this is not only stupidly racist but also just really idiotic, right?

Here’s the thing, in 1997, my wedding to Greg cost us under $500. Were we not both Canadian citizens, we would totally have flagged Immigration Canada’s checklist.

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Awesome Thing (That I Made!) – Scones That Are Flaky not Cakey

flaky_scones

When did flaky scones become a thing?

Growing up in Nova Scotia, scones in our house were always fried. We had tea biscuits, which are the closest in texture to what we now refer to as a scone, but they were dense and cakey, never flaky with discernible layers. We had heard of Southern biscuits, which were known to be flaky, and were served with savoury foods such as chicken and gravy, but they never graced our plates. If a bread product made an appearance at supper it was a nice white dinner roll, or possibly brown bread (made with molasses).

But the flaky scone is what we’re all after here in Toronto. I’ve no idea if flaky is what they go for at Betty Windsor’s house, but here, we can’t get enough of those layers and layers of rich, buttery dough. There are a few places now to buy gorgeous flaky scones, and it was after reading an interview with the owner of shop Baker & Scone that I resumed my search for a decent recipe.

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Crazy Acorn Lady – Making Life Difficult for the Rest of Us

It read like an April Fool’s Day joke. Yesterday, the Toronto Star ran a story about a Woodbridge woman who wanted oak trees near her sons’ school cut down because her two boys are allergic to tree nuts.

The obvious rebuttals come to mind:

– acorns are not food, there’s no plausible reason for teenaged boys to be eating them
– they’re teenagers, not toddlers, and if allergic, should know enough to avoid oak trees during acorn season
– um… don’t roll around under oak trees?

On one hand, you’ve gotta feel really sorry for her kids who have enough stress dealing with real allergens (the article says they’re allergic to peanuts and their school – indoors – is nut-free), and now have to deal with being the spawn of crazy acorn lady.

But there’s also the risk now that the very real concerns regarding allergies – both of her kids and the rest of us – won’t be taken seriously because of the over-reaction and helicopter parenting of one woman who made the news.

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Your Fat Makes Me Crazy

If you live in the western world, no doubt you’ve seen or heard about this video, created by a Wisconsin news anchor after receiving a letter from a viewer who was ostensibly “concerned” about her health and her ability to be a role model to viewers.

As a fat woman, I am fully supportive of Jennifer Livingston and her decision to turn the tables on her critic by taking to the air to rebut his passive-aggressive comments (according to the Toronto Star, the two exchanged emails back and forth but when contacted by Associated Press, the man claims to have deleted the email conversation.)

What is disturbing about all of this is that there are people out there who think they have every right to tell a complete stranger what they think of their looks.

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The Tactile Experience in the Digital Age

Yesterday, Rosie DiManno wrote a column for the Toronto Star bemoaning the move from newsprint to digital media. And while I agree with a lot of her points, there are others that just don’t jibe.

DiManno equates the move to a digital platform over newsprint with a dumbing down of the news. That’s fair enough, to an extent, and yes, there is plenty of fluff out there. As someone who writes what would likely be considered “fluff” for the Star (face it, restaurant news is seldom hard-hitting journalism), I’ll go so far as to agree with that sentiment (can we get over all the celebrity crap, please?). But let’s not equate lack of quality writing with the topic of the articles.

When Greg and I ran TasteTO, we made every attempt to emulate a mainstream publication, even though our publication was online. Articles were were fact-checked and edited and we had a strict ethical policy. We regularly refused to run articles by other writers because they didn’t meet our level of quality. This left us with a few pissed-off writers, but we couldn’t with good conscience run these pieces.

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Shut Yo’ Mouth – Stuff I Wrote This Week – September 10th, 2011

In an effort to have this site be a place for all of my writing, I’m starting a new column that links to any other stuff I’ve written that has been published during the preceding week. I may try and go back and add older stuff, but much of it is time-sensitive, and thus not really relevant. At present, this will mostly be pieces I’ve written for Word of Mouth on Toronto.com as that is my main gig right now.

Go grazing with the master of food and wine at the Park Hyatt

Trump hotel to open high-end resto

The Melody Bar – not just for karaoke anymore

Hit the road, Matt

Eaton Centre unveils its Urban Eatery

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The Cost of Service

The Toronto Star is reporting that Joe Badali’s restaurant has backed down from a proposed $2 levy against their servers to cover the costs of cleaning aprons.

A popular Toronto restaurant has backed down after trying to claw back most of the extra 20 cents an hour it has to pay its minimum-wage waiters.

Joe Badali’s, on Front St. at University Ave., told servers it would start charging them $2 a shift to cover the costs of washing their aprons and providing notepads and cash envelopes.

This charge would essentially strip the staff of any increase they might expect to reap in yesterday’s rise in minimum wage.

While Joe Badali’s now says they will leave the charge at the current 50 cents per server per shift to cover cleaning costs, even that seems a little miserly to me. Laundry bills are part of the cost of running a restaurant, and servers or staff shouldn’t have to pay for the cleaning costs of items necessary to the job like aprons or chef’s whites. Having worked at establishments where there was an enforced uniform that had to be purchased from head office (a tacky little vest while working as a barista at a local coffee chain), I’d even go so far to say that uniforms that cannot be readily supplied by the servers themselves (ie. white shirt, black pants) should be offered to staff free of charge.

What’s next – is Joe Badali’s going to start charging the dishwashers for soap, or the bartenders for ice?

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Eat the Rich

Before we even officially launch this site, I want to make something perfectly clear – while TasteTO was created in order to celebrate all of the wonderful food choices we have here in Toronto, we should never ever forget that there are a lot of people in our city who do not have those options. Sure, we’ll be running reviews of nice restaurants, and features on wonderful products and ingredients, but it would be remiss of us not to report on other food issues that affect Torontonians aside from whether this year’s truffle crop is as good as last year’s.

An article in yesterday’s Toronto Star advocates a meal subsidy for people on social assistance, calculating that a family of four receiving benefits has only $396 left after paying rent to cover all of their bills for the month, including groceries.

For instance, the average monthly rent for a three-bedroom apartment for a family of four in Toronto is $1,272. That family would receive $1,668.35 per month in social assistance benefits, child-related tax benefits and GST tax credits.

That would leave only $396.35 for food and other basics, far short of the $538.43 a month called for in the Nutritious Food Basket, which is based on the Canada Food Guide.

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