If it weren't for hunger, I'd never really see new cities. Hunger is great because it forces you to go out and look for food. This afternoon I had a plan, and the plan was simple. Take a hot bath, go get food, come back and go to bed at a reasonable time. While I soaked in the tub I absentmindedly thumbed one of the magazines given to people at the DevTeach conference. I landed on an article describing a hypothetical developer who developed some bad health habits and had a heart bypass.
That reminded me. Someone made me eat a salad yesterday. It was up to me to put things right today. I could think of only one food capable of combating a salad with any real efficacy: pizza. I leaped out of the tub, dressed, and left the hotel with a precision usually reserved for covert military operations. I'd show that salad who's boss.
As is my habit, I tried looking for a place out of the way. When you're smack in the middle of 1.8 million people, out of the way takes some work. Complicating matters, I refuse to drive aimlessly about a foreign city. Better to walk. Besides, if you're in a car, you're safe. Whilst wandering about, I found the strangest thing: Quebecois Little China. (Chinoise petit? That's just a guess).
Now, people in Montreal are proud of speaking French. Most of them speak English, but as a matter of pride they don't unless you are clearly a mono-linguiled idiot such as myself. Now, add one more language to the language barrier: Chinese.
It was really bizarre to see people switching back and forth between three languages with aplomb, all inside the same conversation. It was like being in a movie where the bad guys are hiding in "Little China". The stores were clearly for the consumption of the local Asian population. Even the layout of the inventory was clearly non-western.
Anyway, I pushed on...since I've never heard of a Chinese pizza. Eventually I found myself in front of an establishment that appeared to have pretty much every greasy food under the sun.
Perfect. I checked the menu, and sure enough, they had pizza. I was sold.
As I prepared to place my order for a mushroom pizza, I remembered that one of my coworkers had suggested I try putine while in Canada. It would be incredibly rude to requisition advice without using it, even if the food sounded a bit odd, so I screwed up my nerve, clenched my stomach, and requested an order of putine with my pizza.
What's that? You've never had putine? You wonder what it might be? Well it is perhaps the one food more capable than a pizza for combating a salad. Putine is comprised of french fries, covered in melted cheese curds, then slathered in gravy. Believe it or not, once you finally silence the voice of reason in the back of your mind, it is really good stuff.
So I sat in this diner, eating fried foods adorned with more saturated fats, watching the world go by. I caught myself watching the cyclists again. This time, I noticed more detail. Some of them weren't suicidal. Some were desperate. They had the distinct appearance of reluctant cyclists. These people were afraid, but someone had double dog dared them to commute via bicycle for a week and they couldn't say "No". They would grimace before launching themselves haphazardly into traffic, and somehow when they opened their eyes the world would still be there. Secretly, I think they wanted to wake up in a hospital so the dare would officially be dissolved.
As I reflected smugly upon my keen observation, something almost slipped past my ever present radar for the unusual. Another bike. Sort of. It was a barking bicycle with a square nose. Actually, it was a bicycle with a shopping cart for a front, and the cart contained a medium size dog that was barking happily as its owner trundled it down the sidewalk. I couldn't have seen that in the hotel bar.