Category Archives: Travels

Byward Market: Good Enough for A President

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Every time I visit Ottawa, I always make a stop at Byward Market. Street markets always have a lure for me, and particularly at this time of the year, the fresh produce from the local farms tops it all. I’ll let this mosaic of colours speak for themselves.

Then the Byward Market also offers many delicious goodies, like the Beaver Tail,

and this delicious croissant with ham and egg filling and home fries.

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The pastries and cookies at Le Moulin de Provence should not be missed. In fact, when President Obama visited Ottawa in 2009, he made an impromptu visit to Byward Market. After trying the Beaver Tail, he walked across the road to Le Moulin de Provence and he was offered maple leaf cookies for free. A huge photograph of the President and a video clip of his visit are still on display to-day.

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Thursday Special: Vodou

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This was an exhibition that was new to me at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. The warning that part of the exhibition might cause discomfort or surprise spurred my curiosity to take a look. As it turned out, it was a thought-provoking and educational display on the origin, history and the practice of Vodou.

Vodou came to the New World from West Africa and took root in Haiti blending with local religious beliefs. The first group of exhibits were artifacts inspired by Vodou. On display was a Vodou shrine in the size of a small closet where Vodou could be practiced at home.

A wall was dedicated to the time-line of Vodou in Haiti, where colonizers who were Catholics denounced Vodou as superstition and considered it to be evil and barbaric. This drove Vodouists into clandestine practice and they formed their secret societies.

A central belief in Vodou is the interconnection of the spiritual world after death and the world we live in. This is achieved through Lwa, which are special spirits also manifesting the presence of the Great Met (the Vodou god). Lwa can appear in many shapes and forms. This one is an example:

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Vodouists communicates more easily with Lwa and when they do, they enter into a state commonly known as “possession”. The vodouists do not suffer and they return to their own selves afterwards.

On display were drums and artifacts used in special ceremonies and a video played the dancing, chanting and trance-like condition of vodouists to the rhythm of drums.

The exhibits looked more menacing towards the end of the exhibition, as they represented the darkness of persecution by the colonists and the struggle by vodouists for freedom and independence . Vodou also became synonymous with the fight against slavery at the time.

Haiti became independent in 1804 and Vodou was officially recognized in Haiti in 2003.

One of the goals of the exhibition was to dispel the notion that Vodou was associated with curses and the popular image of a Vodou doll that people poke with needles. In this exhibition, I saw a lot of parallel between Vodou and many other indigenous folk beliefs all over the world. Believers were persecuted in the name of religion by colonizers or invaders in human history. It is unfortunate that political domination is linked hand in hand with the attempt to eradicate the collective meanings of a culture that has become the subordinate. Would it not be a better world if we were more tolerant of differences?

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For more Thursday Specials this week, please visit Paul’s blog Lost in Translation.jupiter-widget_text

O-O-O Challenge: Opalla’s Overindulgence in Ottawa

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First of all, my gratitude to Frizztext for the inspiration to write this post about Opalla in Ottawa in his comment to my recent post, and I take it as an invitation to submit to his O-O-O Challenge. Nonetheless, I take credit for the “overindulgence”.

It was a working holiday. There was no time for haute cuisine, even though there was plenty in the Canadian capital. Whether it was the meetings and workshops that drained calories or the cooler Fall air outside, I craved for comfortable food. Interestingly my companions felt the same.

One night we ate The Manx near downtown (Elgin and Gladstone).  We were at the pub around 5:30 p.m. and was lucky to find the last table. It certainly was a busy pub the entire time we were there. My attention was captured by the picture frames on the wall.

There were others that read “I bought this because my friend was the artist”, “Ikea print”, and so on. Fun!

The food came in generous helping and was delicious. My pork chop had been brined in ale and was presented with a beautiful baby arugula salad and maple parsnip mash. It went very well with the pale ale I ordered. I finished all my food.

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My companions each ordered from the daily special menu and had pork chop and penne respectively. They were very happy too with their food.

The Manx, 370 Elgin Street, Ottawa.

The Manx on Urbanspoon

Another pub we went on this trip was Mill Street Brew Pub. near Parliament Hill. I had been there before and liked its location near the river. The building was converted from an old mill.

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On this occasion, the quality of the food also lived up to my expectation. I had a tourtiere made with pork, elk and veal prepared with veal stock and Mill Street stock ale. It was very flavourful. I ate up the last pea on my plate.

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My friend who ordered the steak was also very pleased with the helping and the taste. The fish and chips for my other friend was disappointing though, because both the fish and the chips were dry. (To be honest, when it comes to fish and chips, I would put my vote on the British fish and chips any time.)

The beer was nice, and Mill Street Brewery produced many house brands. I chose one infused with green tea and I liked it.

Mill Street Brew Pub, 555 Wellington Street, Ottawa.

The pub food on both nights was hearty and satisfying. My food cravings were curbed, but I had overindulged.  My workout could come later, I told myself.

Mill Street Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Thursday Special: Ottawa Celebrates Fall

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This 900-lb pumpkin at Byward Market in Ottawa is my entry to Paula’s (Lost in Translation) Thursday Special this week, before I return from the capital to Toronto in preparation for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I have had a good business-cum-pleasure trip the last few days and I hope I shall be blogging more about my visit. In the meantime, please join me in celebrating the harvest season with pumpkins big and small, and gourds of different colours and shapes.

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Finally, do not miss out on the pumpkin cookies!

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Travel Theme: THROUGH

For the Travel Theme this week in Where is My Backpack, Ailsa has posted Through. My two photos are taken at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The  Bay of Fundy has the highest tide in the world rising to an average of 53 ft. compared to 11 ft. at the Atlantic Coast in the area.

The first picture is taken at low tide. One can walk on the ocean floor and see through a cavity in the rocks towards the Bay.

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The next photo is taken at high tide the following day. The water has risen above the hole but one can see the top of the rocks through an opening from higher grounds.

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Travel Theme: MULTI-COLOURED

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This week’s Travel Theme in Ailsa’s Where is My Backpack asks for Multi-coloured. My association goes to the multi-coloured display of food items on the buffet table on one of my cruise trips. Colours make the food more enticing, and even when I feel that I have been eating a lot on the cruise, I cannot resist the temptation but to dig in.

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