the two solitudes of the Brouhaha realm

For those who were lucky enough not to go to high school in English Canada, and therefore were not forced to haven’t read “The Two Solitudes” by Hugh MacLennan, an explanation might be in order.

One reviewer, who obviously had a different view of this book than I, describes it as follows:

A landmark of nationalist fiction, Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes is the story of two races within one nation, each with its own legend and ideas of what a nation should be. In his vivid portrayals of human drama in prewar Quebec, MacLennan focuses on two individuals whose love increases the prejudices that surround them until they discover that “love consists in this, that two solitudes protect, and touch and greet each other.”
[emphasis added]

The bolded part of the book is the only part I actually liked. And only for a selfish reason – it describes very well the relationship between myself and JJ.

How else to explain our usual outings to the grocery store?
No, we are not having a party. These are provisions for the two of us. Life can be very difficult, not to mention expensive, when living in a bicultural household… and never is this more apparent than at the biweekly expedition to Loblaws.

This is because JJ and I cannot agree on many food choices, necessitating multiple purchases for ongoing household harmony.

Some examples (and I’ll let you guess who chose what):

Why anyone wouldn’t choose olive oil over yucky, weird tasting butter is beyond me. (Oh, sorry – I said I was going to let you figure it out. Should have known that wouldn’t work out…) Next…

Stinky smoked fish and canned meat, or yummy pasta? Hmm. The choice seems clear to me… but others would beg to differ. Sigh.

Even when we agree on a particular food choice (which typically comes from somewhere radically different from either Greece or Scotland, I should note), we can’t get it together on the appropriate heat level… (what the hell is the matter with hot food anyway, I ask you?!?!? Sheesh!)

…not to mention that we fight over who gets to scarf down most of the naan.

But, happily, we do share some food choices in common. These typically involve the slaughter of little baby yarn giving creatures that run around going “bah bah”:

(And one point for me… JJ actually likes some Greek food, whereas I like no Scottish food whatsoever. Heh heh).

Another variant on a theme: the humble lamb shank.

(is that JJ I hear in the background saying “Dinna ye photograph them bloody lemons next to mah lamb shank and tatties. And whar’s me whiskey, lassie??” It’s MORNING, JJ – do try to control yerself, would ye?!?)

Oh, and let’s not forget the craving for processed pork products in common:

Damn that evil, evil Loblaws, by the way. How dare they put bacon on for $1.99 a pound? I have a mind to send them the bill for the new clothes I will need after eating all this bacon. Note, however, that I picked the healthy salt-reduced bacon…

Not to mention the even healthier smokey bacon potato chips. (And on that topic, may Loblaws be double damned AND blasted for putting chips on sale. I just can’t control myself, obviously!!!)

This, by the way, signals another difference between me and JJ on food choices. The above photo represents my notion of vegetarian cuisine (after all, it’s not real bacon flavour in those chips… is it?!?)

If I had my way, the vegetable crisper in the apartment would look like this:

JJ: It’s called a VEGETABLE crrrrrispah for a reason, ye know.

KB: Oh… and who tiefed those butter patties from work and stuck them in with my champagne, barbecue sauce and bacon, then?!

JJ: Ah, shurrup and gi’us a whisky.

So now, it looks like this:

Triple damn, blast and condemn to almightly hell the dastardly Loblaws for selling vegetables! I think that JJ just wants to keep reminding me that I am no longer, in fact, a bachelor. Sigh.

Just as well, really – because if I were still a bachelor I’d be pining over this guy and wanting to invite him home to cook for me – and he’s married:

This is Michael Smith, a.k.a. Chef at Home and Chef at Large. He had an idea on his program yesterday which I had to try immediately: Smashed Potatoes.

The recipe is simple: take two leftover baked potatoes (or if you, like me, live with a Scot and never have leftover tatties as a result, put two potatoes in the over for 1 hour at 375 degrees F. Oh, and prick them all over with a fork first. I learned about this the hard way once).

Next, press down on them with a potato masher (or, if you don’t have one, the bottom of a plate will do). Mikey says to do this until they are approximately double their diametre.

Garnish as desired. Mine, on the left, has olive oil, parmesan and Montreal steak spice. JJ’s has (yawn) butter and salt. Oh, and I snuck some pepper on it too. Heh heh.

Then bake at 500 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Delicious! Guaranteed to promote harmony even in the most recalcitrant British Isles vs. Mediterrania debate.

(But just tell me that the one on the left doesn’t look tastier… I dare you. Um… oops… forget I said that.)

This recipe has the Brouhaha Seal of Approval for sure. You can cook for me any time, Michael!

So, anyway, another grocery store trip without incident – and we’re both happy campers now, until the next sortie to Loblaws, anyway.

Happy Sunday!


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