Neighbourhood Shut-In and/or Yuppie Shit

Spicy Lobster Tempura Salad at 426 Sushi in Villeray
As my high school friend, Avril, passed me her huge black "weekend" bag to go back to Toronto, I gasped. "Oh my God! We haven't left the neighbourhood in days," I said. She looked at me and smiled, "That's okay. It's been very relaxing." I walked away slightly embarrassed, trying to recall if we'd done anything even remotely fun for an adult.

This was the first time I'd realized it. I rarely leave my neighbourhood. I'd taken Avril to 426 Sushi, my favourite restaurant on Villeray for the spicy lobster tempura salad. We'd then strolled down to Slak to do some clothes shopping, one of her favourite places in Montreal. Then I'd taken her to Chez Vincenzo on the way back for some homemade gelato. She liked my suggestion, pistachio, but preferred the caramel with sea salt.
Pistachio and Caramel w/ sea salt gelato Chez Vincenzo

Ever since I started working from home, I rarely leave my neighbourhood. I gave up driving about 12 years ago when I moved to Montreal, and everything we need can be found within a few blocks of our house, including the grocery story, which delivers for a modest $4.00. We also have a small shop around the corner that sells inexpensive fruit and vegetables for those in-between times. However, they DON'T sell organic produce, as I indelibly learned. "So don't even ask!" replied the annoyed shopkeeper with his tight black pin curls swaying ever so slightly. The other shop patrons watched as he followed me around the store barking the merits of conventionally grown vegetables over their yuppie bullshit organic cousins. This rant included a reference to a study conducted in Texas and the fact that he had consumed conventionally grown vegetables his entire life, and "there was nothing wrong" with him. There were similar tremors in his pin curls on another occasion when I questioned my change from a crisp 50-dollar bill.

Shopping at Slak
My neighbourhood is livable, diverse and interesting. I just have to keep my goddamned yuppie questions to myself.

Yes, Villeray, my neighbourhood, is going through gentrification, and many long-time residents are not happy. Rents have gone sky-high, and condos are going in wherever property owners can find an administrative loop-hole. There are regular street demonstrations about this, where passersby will invariably see the "Villeray Désobéit" banner.

Although I don't think of myself as a yuppie, I have unfortunately been cast into this role, judging from more than a few reactions from local shopkeepers.

In my first week in the neighbourhood, I went to a very retro-looking bakery. I quickly discovered that it was retro because they had never changed anything, not for any trendy fashion reason.

I tried to take a picture of the store price list, which was much like the one you would see in the bakeries in France, but the shop owners, two plump middle-aged women, presumably sisters, protested bitterly. I immediately apologized to the pair in white baker's suits. I usually ask before I take pictures of things, but for some reason this time I'd forgotten. But their protests continued, even through the business transaction of buying a few croissants. "We don't go to your house and take pictures," said one. "Yeah, how would that make you feel?" asked the other. After my admonishment in tandem, I grimaced as I tried to swallow my croissant. It lurched down my gullet like a ball of concrete. But maybe I was a little upset. I've only gone in there once since, to get out of the rain, but the sisters hadn't forgotten me. They were polite, but still crossed their arms and scowled in my general direction.

On the other hand, my father visiting from Vancouver loved the bakery and the ladies. They even gave him a special deal on croissants. He went there every day and brought back a half-dozen, which hadn't become any lighter, or was it just the memory? The Villeray croissant had become the polar opposite of Proust's madeleine.

The kicker--the pastry ladies even let my dad take a picture of the place.

Other posts on Villeray
Neon Icon: Miss Villeray
Oriental Pastry Delights
Felines: Friend or Foe?
The Haitian Barber
Pots and Pans Protest in Villeray



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