Search This Blog

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Show--and Its Candy

When I was a girl we went to the movies on Saturday afternoon. It seems unlikely that we went every week, but maybe we did. Saturday afternoon was a double feature, which meant we could see two movies for the price of one. Between the two movies was a short cliff-hanger designed to pull us into the show the following week so we could see the outcome. The cliff-hanger was usually some variation of the Perils of Pauline.

 

You notice I said "pull us into the show". That's what we called it. "Are you going to the show on Saturday?" We never said "movies." And we certainly never said "films."

 

Besides two movies (usually two Westerns, one of them starring Roy Rogers or Gene Autry) and one short feature (oh yes, plus newsreels of current events), the real attraction of going to the Roxy was the concession counter, which to us was just the candy stand. Our Roxy had a popcorn machine as well, of course, but the candy is what drew us.

 

As children did (do), I established my favourites in every category. Sometimes more than one favourite.

 

I think part of the process of creating your public self is the business of distinguishing your tastes from those of others. Some kids liked Juicy Fruit gum, for example, but it didn't take me long to dislike that fake fruitiness. No, my favourite gum was Double-Mint, which I think was a combination of spearmint and regular mint. It was good to be able to say "Double-Mint is what I like."

 

And when it came to candy, my first choice at the show was always Bit-o-Honey, a thin candy bar of honey and nuts. Beneath the outer packaging you found the candy bar wrapped in white waxed paper that folded back and forth between the six segments (SIX separate pieces) of the bar. I probably liked it because of the intricate wrapping (not crinkly but soft waxed paper, so it didn't disturb the other movie-goers—not that anyone in that theatre full of kids would have heard the crinkle of one candy wrapper).

 

My second choice—a distinct second, but acceptable if they were out of Bit-o-Honey—was Milk Duds. Given that "dud" implies a failure, the name is a mystery. The cardboard box was about 3x5", half an inch thick. Inside was waxed paper that formed a bag to hold probably a dozen milk-chocolate-covered caramels. The beauty of this type of candy (as well as the Bit-o-Honey) was the separate pieces. You could extract a Milk Dud, re-close the cardboard box, and then slowly chew and melt it in your mouth.

 

When it was all finished you could wait or you could immediately take another piece. The timing was all up to you. This was unlike the usual candy bar, such as the fluffy marshmallow-y Mars Bar (with whole almonds imbedded in the chocolate covering). Once you opened your Mars Bar you had to eat it all at once or it would melt messily in your hand. And then it would all be gone and you'd have nothing left to eat during the rest of the movie. The two movies.

 

The good thing about the Roxy—and probably any movie house of the day—was that you could enter at any time and leave at any time. This was true not just of the Saturday showings (film A followed by shorts by Film B by shorts by Film A by shorts by film B) but also of the weeknight evening shows: a 7 o'clock showing followed by the same film re-shown at 9.

 

I can still remember the challenge of arriving half an hour late to any movie and trying to figure out what was happening. Then we would sit thorough the beginning of that movie when it came on again and find out what we had missed, at which point we might stand up and leave—or we might stay and see the end of the movie a second time, with a clearer understanding of what we were seeing.

 

When television took over the world, the Roxy closed for good.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor
Food blog: http://fastandfearlesscooking.blogspot.ca
 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Boules Day

When we were in Menton 25 years ago we watched the men (and it was always just men that we saw) play boules. Our favourite chef, Ninetto, was a demon player. If he wasn't at the restaurant (Café de la Gare) then he was playing boules. And a fine player he was, at least to our inexperienced and biased eyes.

 

When we came back to Canada, we bought a set of boules in their wooden box: eight extremely heavy steel balls, about the size of a softball. A little wooden cochonet, which sets the marker for each game. And a measuring cord to settle contentious near-misses.

 

The game is a bit like curling or lawn bowling, the goal being to roll or throw your ball as close to the cochonet as possible.

 

Much as we love the game (and this is the ONLY game involving a sphere that I have ever enjoyed playing—mostly because no one ever throws the ball expecting me to catch it)—much as we love it, we play it only once a year, because it takes at least four people to play. Our four have expanded to six now: three couples of long acquaintance—36 years, in fact.

 

After much checking of calendars we find a date that will accommodate the six of us. One couple generously plays perennial host. Originally we played the game in their long, skinny back yard, but when they re-landscaped the back they took out our makeshift boules pitch, at the far end of which was a sweet little apple tree whose low branches sometimes got whacked with a lofted boule. So now, after a lovely lunch and a couple bottles of rose, we hike over from Sorauren to the south end of High Park and search for an appropriate pitch. REAL boules players have permanent pitches, smooth gravel with no lumps and bumps that deflect the balls from what would certainly otherwise have been perfect throws. But we make do with the lumps and bumps because they excuse our amateur shots: about one in seven is a good one—the others being the boules equivalent of gutter balls.

 

We play boys against the girls, rather inappropriate language for team members ranging in age from 65 to 80. Nonetheless, it's boys against girls. Generally the boys take two out of three games, and that was the case last year. But the girls gave them a hard time in the second game, at one point leading 7-0 (the winning team is the first to reach 13).

 

So picture these six old folk full of bonhomie and good food and, yes, a bit of wine. The twenty-minute walk to High Park has worn us down a bit, and the eight boules in their box are really heavy. It's a nice September day but the direct sun is still very hot. We find a relatively smooth and shady spot and throw the cochonet. Since we play only once a year, we have to review the rules. And even after the review some of the finer points remain obscure to some of us.

 

But we take our turns through the balls. DinoVino WineScribe insists on lobbing his ball (a perfectly legitimate thing to do), while the rest of us prefer to roll the balls toward the cochonet, which is barely visible in the grass. (We have mounted a small Canadian flag on a ballpoint pen and we stick the pen in the ground to mark the location of the otherwise invisible cochonet. Next year we'll be using a knitting needle, which is better designed for sticking into compacted soil.)

 

We delight in each other's successes. "Good shot!" "Oh wow! You're in!" "We'll never match that one!" There's a lot of walking in boules: throw the cochonet. Walk to it to insert the ballpoint pen or knitting needle, then walk back to the imaginary line. Take turns throwing the balls in the prescribed order. Walk to the center to check on which team is closer (this determines which team throws the next ball). Once all the balls have been sent toward the center, everyone walks to the cochonet to count and score. This is my favourite part of the game: the six-person amble to the center to peer at all the balls—and occasionally to measure. From the end of one set of throws to the end of the next we all forget the score. Does that make it 7-3? No, last time it was 6-3 and this is your point so it's 6-4—or no, you got two points so its 6-5. Yay! We're gaining.

 

As usual the boys take both sets. And after the game DinoVino and I walk the full length of High Park up to Bloor and home—it takes longer you would think: those boules are heavy and the sun is still hot.

 

Every year we promise to meet more frequently because it's so much fun. But you wouldn't believe what crowded schedules we elders have, so boules day remains an annual event.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor
Food blog: http://fastandfearlesscooking.blogspot.ca
 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Accept the gift of expression" (a line from "Carpe Poem" by Toronto poet Linda Stitt)

Hmmph. It's not always a gift, in my eyes.

Sometimes I'd rather read a book

   or cook a meal

than open myself to the Muse.

 

In fact, her showing up

   and demanding my attention

brings to mind the guest who arrives

with cut flowers wrapped in paper

just as I am putting the finishing touches

on dinner.

I appreciate the gesture and the thought—

   truly I do—

but not NOW! Now is a bad time.

 

Nevertheless the poet is right.

The Muse, once refused,

is off like a shot,

hightailing it out of town

as quick as cockroaches

when you turn on the kitchen light

at midnight.

Refuse her one time too many

and she'll stop coming around at all.

 

It behooves me to make room for her

whenever she arrives.

How churlish to refuse her offering

with the lame excuse of a previous engagement.

 

 
Copyright © 2017 Ann Tudor
Food blog: http://fastandfearlesscooking.blogspot.ca