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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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queen street

On impulse, I took the afternoon off to walk west along Queen Street yesterday...the weather was far too nice to stay inside. If I had been thinking straight, I would have taken my bike in for its spring check-up at the same time. Ah well.

Queen Street is great for people-watching and window shopping. Stores range from a rather battered-looking but absolutely fascinating hardware store called Active Surplus to goth and vintage clothing stores to ultra-trendy (and ultra-expensive) shops. I love snooping through the vintage clothing shops, sorting through the racks of the outrageous and gently used...mostly stuff I would never wear, but occasionally you can find gems. I found a formal "costumey" jacket in one of these for $12 (I wore it to the FKO banquet). These shops are also wonderful for when you're looking for costumes and shtick clothes (have a desperate need for lime-green sequinned bell-bottoms with faux-fur hem? look no further...)

Poked my head into Lush for a whiff of the store's incredible homemade soaps (they even have a CHOCOLATE soap!), Pages (great magazine and bookstore), Arkon (bead shop...I've been interested in beads ever since Allison taught me how to make earrings), Steve's Music store (lusted over the cool hand percussion instruments), other places. Ran out of time and ended up having to skip part of the south side of Queen...I had been working my way up the north side, past Spadina, and then back down the south side. Also dropped by F/X on Spadina, which looks like a vintage clothing store but whose prices are actually much higher than regular shops. Also has a great vintage candy section.

Had dinner with Craig and Jeff at some Spanish place whose name I've forgotten. We ordered an appetizer combo and some paella (and I learned how to pronounce "paella" properly :)), very yummy. Craig showed us Volume III of his amazing train trip report (a highly entertaining record filled with photos, ticket stubs, narrative text, postcards, etc...I am positive that this may end up published in some form someday).

We parted ways after dinner, and Jeff & I headed out to visit with our friends Andy and Christine, who were having a bunch of people over for Chinese food (mostly friends from our university days). We hadn't seen some of these folk in months, including Bruce Macintosh (now an astronomer in California). Bruce had brought over a video of some kind of Japanese cooking competition (Iron Chef...have any of you heard of it?). Really hilarious stuff. Two well-known Japanese chefs have a cook-off after being given a food theme. In the two shows we saw, the themes were daikon (Japanese radish) and black tiger shrimp. They have an hour to make their dishes from scratch. The serving dishes themselves were expensive works of art (one dish was $200,000!), and part of the excitement of the show was seeing whether the chefs broke any of the dishes in their hurry to get their meal prepared on time. One of the chefs used a blow-torch on one of the dishes (to crystallize a salt base), and the commentators' translated comments went like: "Do you see what he's doing?" "I can't believe it!" "Don't you think this is reckless?" "Look at the face of the dish owner! I think he's going to faint!" etc. etc. Everything was in Japanese, by the way, but the show was subtitled. Some of the translations were hilarious. Some were confusing, and we had to turn to John Chew for explanations.

Meals were judged by a panel of celebrities. The atmosphere of the opening and closing ceremonies was highly similar to that of the World-wide Wrestling Foundation extravaganzas...lots of smoke, dramatic music and lighting, the chefs themselves rising up on platforms as cameras zoomed on their serious yet determined expressions.

I wish we had food shows like that in Canada. :-)

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