Ditch Your Picky Eating Habits

I had a picky eater friend in university who stands out from all the rest. Whereas most picky eaters would perhaps have a list of ten or twenty acceptable foods, he had maybe five. These were limited to: steak/beef, chicken fingers, pasta, tomato sauce, and pizza. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much). As a foodie this habit drove me insane and naturally led to many discussions about the merits of trying new food.

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The most adventurous dish my friend tried in university.

If you’re a picky eater, I strongly urge you to ditch your habits. First and foremost, it helps fill my ego when someone ends up loving a food I recommended to them. But as much as filling my ego is awesome, it also gives you the ability to open your mind.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how the hell eating some sushi might open your mind. I’m not talking about an unprecedented blast of flavour changing your world. I’m also not talking about telling a potential employer how worldly you are because you went to a poke place once. Eating new foods helps you open your mind by exposing you to new cultures and unique values. 

For example, let’s say you’re like my friend and only eat typical broke university student foods for 98% of your meals. After 300 invites to go to Korean BBQ you finally break and accept, promising yourself and others that you’ll eat more than just the beef.

You arrive a tad late after battling food anxiety (I’m told this is a thing) and discover your friends have already ordered. For those of you familiar with Korean BBQ, this means they’ve brought the unlimited sides (kimchi, sweet potato, salads, cold soup, lettuce, onions, sauces, lotus root, glass noodles, and more).

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Just look at all those sides!

Kimchi is thrust upon you and you take your first bite. Then another side and another. Eventually, you find one that you love or at the very least tolerate. As the meal goes on your friends tell you about the different types of foods in painstaking detail as that’s the only way you’re willing to try them. By the end of the meal you’ve learned a bunch about typical Korean foods that everyone loves and your culinary palate is slightly larger.

As you begin to explore more cuisines your curiosity grows and you question why Asian food has so much rice (history lesson about Asia), why vegans are obsessed with eating local (farm to fork movement), why Indian food is so spicy (valued cooling effects of hot food), and more. Even if you don’t turn into a full blown foodie like what happened to me, you’ll more than likely end up learning a lot of new things. As an added bonus, you’re likely to get invited to more hangouts and making friends with people from other cultures will become easier. And perhaps greatest of all, travel will become less scary and more enticing.

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Lessons in history (Tokyo).

In case education, new friendship opportunities, and travel aren’t enough to convince you, take this word of advice from the once super-picky-eater friend of mine:

For me it was like, well, I know I’m not allergic to anything (or there’s a 0.0001% chance I am but who knows), so why shouldn’t I just go for it?

Worse that happens is I don’t like it.

As a foodie, blogger, and fellow human being, I sincerely hope you’ll think twice before your next meal of chicken fingers and push yourself to try something new. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

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#14: Teaching Abroad?

It should come as little surprise that foreign teacher’s rights are often abused and their responsibilities exploited. People go on midnight runs from horrible situations, never to return to the country in fear of prosecution. This is not a tale of such terrible circumstances, but rather how to avoid them. If you’re thinking of teaching abroad, these are some things you should consider.

Work Permit

The first words anyone hoping to teach abroad will read. Everyone starts off by reading into the legal processes – that’s good, at least then you know how it’s supposed to be, what your responsibilities are.

Soon after you start looking for a job or start working you will hear horror stories about teachers hiding in closets as government inspectors come through, abusive teachers, and more.

Do your research into the schools to which you’re applying to find out if they’re on anyone’s blacklist and, if so, why. If you’re coming to Taiwan, Forumosa is your new best friend. Otherwise there are plenty of Facebook groups out there should you need advice (just search “foreigners in [country]” and you should be good to go).

No Rest for the Travelled

Time off is scarce. It is typical to have no more than a week or so of national holidays and only five days personal leave. This isn’t worst case scenario, it’s just how it often is here. Combine that with working the occasional weekend and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed and overworked.

Make sure you use your time off wisely. I’ve spent too many evenings and weekends just relaxing at home, rather than adding diversity to my life. But whenever I’ve pushed myself to go out and explore – no matter how much a solid recharge seemed to be in order – it has always been worth it.

Hourly or Salary?

This is a question that constantly comes up among foreign workers. While certainly not unique to Taiwan, these problems are often able to grow larger due to government oversights and loosely enforced policies.

Work hourly and you’ll find yourself able to have more time to yourself, but you’ll also find yourself doing the occasional unpaid overtime and lots of paperwork that cuts into your free time.

Work salary and you’ll find yourself with lower pay and more hours, but with a more easily accessible support system in place should you need any help with classes (which can be absolutely critical when you’re starting out).

Endgame

Chances are you’re not going to find the perfect job for you on your first try. Whether you’ve got the job before arriving or plan to find one once you get here, you’re bound to run into things that you love and things that you hate.

The best advice I can give here is to stay strong and keep talking to other teachers, both at your workplace and elsewhere. It helps form a frame of reference for what is normal and is the best source of information for making hard decisions.

Feature image by pexels

This place will become your home

Dine: Glassroots

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I won’t lie -– when I lived in London I came here almost weekly and it is easily my favourite restaurant in London. What started off as an assignment for the Gazette quickly became a weekly ritual and a second home.

Between the weekly rotating menu, the incredible wait staff, kitchen, and owners, the homey and intimate atmosphere, the locally sourced decor, and much more (I could go on for ages), everything comes together in a perfect medley. Within but a year of opening they’ve won numerous London restaurant awards. Growing up in Toronto I’ve been exposed to a lot of quality food, but even their top ranks seldom come close to Glassroots’ unique and ambitious design.

Drink: Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium

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Its rare to find a pub in London that has exemplary food and drink, friendly service, and a relatively quiet atmosphere. Nine times our of ten, Milos’ has it all. The staff can excitedly describe their best and most popular brews of the day (or the brew of your choice) and welcome familiar customers.

As far as drink concerned, there is a rotating menu of over 30 craft beers on tap (plus wines, bottles, and mixed drinks). But the fun doesn’t stop there; their food menu is to die for. Milos’ is an ideal spot for lunch or dinner as well – I recommend trying the cheese (and charcuterie) board.

Indulge: Marky’s Creperie

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Jenny Jay // The Western Gazette

Personally, I cannot say enough good things about the owner, Milica Markovic. I found myself ordering from here more often than I’ll admit. My go-tos were always Fruity Haze Nut and Omelet but the rest are amazing as well.

While ordering in gets you the good taste, it severely misses out on the excellent atmosphere of the location. One wall is chalk full of affirmations that somehow manage to dwarf in comparison to Markovic’s brilliant attitude – an attitude that rubs off on the students working there. Perhaps the most magical part of Marky’s isn’t just the attention you get, but witnessing other regulars who have been coming for years interact with the owner – every bit of which is like seeing two long lost friends reunite. Perhaps if you stay around long enough you’ll join those ranks too.

 

Dessert with a side of inspiration

This article originally appeared on www.westerngazette.ca

By Ellis Koifman

Marky’s Crepe Cafe is a small, intimate spot at the end of the Richmond Row where you can enjoy a large selection of crepes and enjoy the inspirational messages covering the walls.

Owned by Milica Markovic, this little shop offers 20 different kinds of crepes. While people may typically associate crepes with the Nutella-filled joys you can find at various places around the city, here you’ll find a huge selection of crepes that can be eaten for a meal or dessert.

“If other places have waffles or crepes it’s only one or two kinds because they serve other food. Here, we are specifically crepes and waffles,” says Markovic. “We also make crepe cakes. Nobody does that in London. 15 layers of crepes and different fillings. Really unique cakes for birthdays.”

The crepes range from “Fruity Hazelnut” with Nutella, strawberry, banana and whipped cream to the “Omelet” with scrambled egg, bacon, onion and tomato. They even offer some chicken crepes. Markovic emphasizes there are also vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Beyond the food lies the heart and soul of the business — Markovic. She is at Marky’s seven days a week working hard to ensure every customer has a great experience.

“It never gets boring because you always have somebody to talk to, to laugh with,” says Markovic. “Lots of our customers like our store because we have a friendly image; they come and say they feel like family.”

In the years since the restaurant opened it has also gained a number of regulars who come in and chat with Markovic and the staff. Some couples even started dating at Marky’s and now bring their children with them to enjoy the crepes.

Despite being popular amongst students today, Marky’s had a rough start. She attests her success to being patient.

“Impatient people, they expect big success, they get disappointed and they close,” she says. “Patience, patience, patience, always…. I could go in some different field, but if [you’re] good in something I think you should keep doing that.”

An entire wall of the small restaurant is covered in inspirational messages, some of which Markovic says had real changes on the customers’ lives. Students sometimes take pictures and then later return to tell Markovic how much of an impact they had.

Markovic came to Canada 25 years ago from Yugoslavia and started from almost nothing, having lost her nutritionist credentials in the move, only to persevere and open a successful crepe cafe in London. She uses this experience to impart life advice on her customers (typically students), acknowledging today’s difficult job market and emphasizing patience.

“I believe if you like something, if you think you are good at something, then you should keep doing that because results will come.”

Marky’s Crepe Cafe can be found at 484 Richmond St. and is open seven days a week.

Glassroots – local food from the heart

This article originally appeared on www.westerngazette.ca

By Ellis Koifman

Glassroots is the newest dining experience to come to Richmond Row. After a hugely successful summer of dinner service, they’re soon opening for lunch with reasonable student prices.

The idea behind Glassroots is its grassroots approach to everything from décor to construction to food. Everything is local; everything comes from the heart.

“We are fiercely local. Almost everything we do comes directly from farmers, directly from local buyers,” says Mike Fish, co-owner and front-of-house manager. “A lot of our cherry tomatoes and our herbs come from our patio. We’ve got 22 planter boxes that surround the patio.”

Located where Veg Out was open for several years, this new restaurant with new owners is entirely vegan. But you won’t find the word “vegan” anywhere in the restaurant. Instead they want to be known for their environmentally friendly and healthy experience.

“For us it was like every other restaurant, the food just happens to be vegan,” says Fish. “We get people in all the time… They’ll leave not having a clue that they just ate at a vegan restaurant. That’s really neat.”

If you check the Glassroots website, you’ll be able to find last week’s menu with items such as the mushroom melt burger and the late summer barbeque bowl. Whereas most restaurants will change their menu quarterly, they have a new one every week. “After the end of one calendar year we’ll have done 50 menus, which would take a restaurant 13 years to do,” says Fish.

Fish shares ownership of the restaurant with Glassroots’ chef Yoda Olinyk. The pair’s lives have always been surrounded by food.

When Olinyk was 18, her parents split up and she was left with the responsibility of cooking a decent meal for her dad and herself. “I bought a cookbook and pretty much since that first meal I made… I just loved it,” says Olinyk. Since then she has worked at several restaurants and ran the first plant-based catering company in southwestern Ontario, often serving at vegetarian and vegan events.

Fish’s story is similar. He discovered a love for food and worked in the food business. At the age of 18, he got into bartending and learned the “artistic mixology experience” at the Whistler Fairmont in British Columbia. He has spent years working as a wine rep and has become known for his drink-mixing skills.

Sitting down for a meal at Glassroots will provide you with more than just a vegan dining experience — you’ll get to join the intimate atmosphere that Fish and Olinyk have created. With their limited hours — only open five days a week — they’re able to prioritize interacting with their patrons.

“That’s why our tagline is ‘A food and wine revolution’ — we really want to change the way people think about food in general,” says Fish. “Everyone can be comfortable here.”

“At the same time, we wanted to have a place where vegans or anyone dabbling in that lifestyle could come in and not just have a kale Caesar,” adds Olinyk. “We’ve got everything from Creole food to Mexican food to Italian food to Asian-inspired dishes.”

On Sept. 30 Glassroots will be opening for lunch. Olinyk emphasizes the value-driven reasonable prices for take out items like fresh soup and salad. If you’re downtown and in the mood for a new experience, Glassroots is the place to try.

Glassroots can be found at 646 Richmond St. and is open from 4:30-11:00 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday (soon opening for lunch).

Wisdom Teeth Removal Food Guide

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As a foodie, getting my wisdom teeth out was especially awful.

Everyone’s experience is a bit different with wisdom teeth removal, but for the most part you’re stuck eating mushy or liquid foods for at least a couple days (or in my case upwards of a week).

You can probably imagine how boring that gets.

If you have gotten them removed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, it’s your lucky day, I’m going to talk about surviving post-surgery (food wise anyway… The pain meds should do the rest).

Mushy Foods

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This is the most common and perhaps the most important tip you will get when it comes to staying fed.

Applesauce, pudding and ice cream will become your best friends.

If you hate mushy foods, well, that makes things difficult. But don’t worry, there are other options!

Liquid Foods

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Soups and smoothies.

If you go with this option then make sure you either have a lot of variety or REALLY like the soup/smoothie you choose to spend your 2-7 days drinking otherwise you’ll get bored real fast.

Best to go with something that is very smooth with limited chunks/bits, such as cream of mushroom.

Calories

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One of the biggest challenges I faced within the first few days was getting sufficient nutrition. I don’t mean you should count every calorie and be overly meticulous here. What you do want to do is avoid eating less than 400 calories a day as I did.

With foods like applesauce, pudding smoothies and soup it is surprisingly easy to under eat, meanwhile having the pain meds and pain itself masking how hungry you really are.

Furthermore, it is not healthy for the healing process to undereat.

Fruit Juices

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A good way to get the calories you need is through fruit juices – such as orange juice – that are high in sugar (yes, not particularly good for you so try not to overdo it).

I would recommend drinking this alongside a few meals if you find yourself under eating. Not to mention they taste pretty good, so you’ve got that going for you too.

After Initial Recovery

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Once you’re feeling up to it, a good way to ease back into solid foods (and out of the incredibly boring ones you’ve been living with) is by eating fish.

Baked salmon was the first non-mushy food I enjoyed after getting my wisdom teeth out. It was glorious!

Since you still won’t be able to open your mouth fully for at least another few days, having a food that you can just slot into your mouth and barely chew makes things much easier.

Beyond this stage it’s just a matter of slowly trying out tougher foods until you’re back to your normal self, minus some holes in your gums.

Best of luck with your wisdom teeth removal experience!

Cheers,

Ellis Koifman

Images courtesy of Pexels (6)

Experiencing Alo Restaurant

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Alo is a filling tasting menu experience that leaves you speechless.

Toronto has its fair share of restaurants with extravagant tasting menus. Each is known for its fantastic food, but is limited by one critical aspect – you leave hungry.

My visit to Alo Restaurant was to celebrate my 22nd Birthday. After struggling to get reservations, I was given the opportunity to eat at the Chef’s Table with my family. This involved enjoying a 17 course meal that I can say with certainty was the best dining experience of my life.

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Upon entering you go up a squished elevator and walk out to an elegant upscale dining room. On one side there is a bar and on the other are tables. In between the two is the Chef’s Table – a bar counter with six seats looking into the open kitchen – where I enjoyed my meal.

From the vantage point of the Chef’s Table I was able to peer into the beautiful process of creating and plating each dish and even having a few dishes served by Chef Patrick Kriss himself.

Food

Each course was a small piece of art, making you focus on savouring the combination of fresh high quality ingredients rather than having you rhythmically consume a heap of food without much conscious thought.

While the courses are too many to recount, a few stand out as highlights of the night.

Kusshi oyster: a single oyster on a bed of crushed ice, seemed so minuscule, yet easily stood out as the best among many dozens of oysters I’ve enjoyed in the past year.

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Toro: as a sushi fanatic I was thrilled when this was served. This fatty piece of tuna belly had quality reminiscent of Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan.

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Bluefoot chanterelles: a slightly salty and very memorable mushroom dish with rich creamy flavour.

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Hamachi sashimi: the chef finished the dish with a sauce just after it was served and personally explained the dish. As with the toro, the fish was the freshest and best quality I have experienced.

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Beef rib cap: a relatively sizeable chunk of meat served with puréed mushroom and king oyster mushrooms. Despite being the only meat dish in the seafood-heavy tasting menu that evening, it fit perfectly, its rich flavour setting the bar high for future steak dinners.

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At the end of the meal three hours had elapsed and I was too full to consume another morsel of food. In addition to giving me the meal of a lifetime I was left more than satisfied, a genuine surprise considering the nature of upscale tasting menus in Toronto restaurants.

Truly, Alo Restaurant is the right way for a tasting menu to be done. If you’re looking for a celebratory meal that is worth every penny and will be memorable for years to come, this destination is a must.

Rating: ★★★★★