One of the other reasons why Madelinots might not go in for bistros and cafes (see previous post) is because of the price of fresh produce. Forget about getting mesclun greens with your panini. Every salad I’ve had since New Brunswick has consisted uniquely of the following: iceberg lettuce, green pepper, vaquely red tomatoes, and radish. Nothing destroys radish. Nothing. Insects and radishes will be the only things to survive a nuclear blast. Salad ingredients are not a question of a lack of gourmandises…it’s a question of availability and cost.
Grapes were 6.99 a pound on Les Iles. Oranges were .60 a piece. I managed to find pineapple on special at the local Co-op for 2.25. It may not ripen before I leave, so I may transport it back to Montreal with me next week. Oh! the irony! I did find lettuce grown locally. It looked like real lettuce and had what looked like buttery, fragile leaves. When I opened the plastic package, two small worms, a baby snail and a not-so-baby slug tumbled out. I forced myself to quickly get over the gross factor. That’s the price you pay for real food. I put the worms and the baby slug in the compost and tossed the slug out the back door (don’t ask me why the slug received a slightly different fate). I washed the lettuce very carefully. Then I checked each leaf. Then I ate the lettuce in a salad. The salad accompanied the freshest crab legs I have ever had. Living close to your food source has its merits.
The tourist season hasn’t really started here on Les Iles. Went to visit Havre-Aubert hoping that a café recommended to me was open. Alas, it wasn’t. I did come across 5 women baking up a storm in one of the shops nearby. Come back on Sunday, they said, we’ll be open then. I regretfully closed the door on the heavenly smell of cinnamon raisin bread.
Les Madelinots don’t have a culure of going out to quaint bistros and cafes. They certainly exist, but only for the tourist trade. The establishments that are open right now are all situated on Cap-aux-Meules (where the ferry deposits you). Visited Le Central yesterday, a bar in Cap-aux-Meules. It’s pleasant enough, but doesn’t have the cachet demanded by visitors to the Islands. Instead, it has all the familiarity of a local watering hole, rendering it a safe and comfortable place for locals to gather. Last evening, two middle-aged women sat at one end of the bar talking over a couple of beers. At the other end, a group of men did the same. In the middle was a younger woman – who looked a little like Marjo (the quintessential Quebecois rocker chick)—who was speaking with a guy who seemed to be part of the artist/artisant community.
I sat at a table, where I asked to be served the beer that’s brewed here. Alas, Molson has a stranglehold on this establishment and they don’t actually serve the local beer in the local watering hole. I’ll bring a case back with me. Among the other table patrons was a group of three very grano twenty-somethings, a young guy on a computer, and a couple who seem to have been having a semi-fight. Every time the woman got up, her metal chair hit mine with gusto. Normally, a Madelinot (heck, even a Montrealaise) would acknowledge this and apologize. She just kept pulling her chair forcefully into mine. I took it as punishment for being a stranger in a strange land.