Alibi V.12 No.44 • Oct 30-Nov 5, 2003 

Food Article

Planning a Move to Canada?

Start acclimating now with butter tarts

It's common for my fellow liberals to claim that we're moving to Canada whenever the right wing in this country does something particularly idiotic. I would have made this claim myself when the Gropenator was elected governor of California, but the sweet satisfaction of Rush Limbaugh admitting that he was a junkie who sent his housekeeper out to score for him was enough to keep me sticking around.

Thing is, I occasionally think about moving to Canada even when I like the administration in power. Toronto is my favorite city in the world, and there's something about the stoic but self-effacing and occasionally extremely silly Canadian mindset (best seen in the novels of Robertson Davies and Paul Quarrington) that appeals to me. But whenever I make my mind up that I'm heading north of the 49th Parallel, I remember something important: I really shouldn't have unfettered 24-hour access to butter tarts.

A butter tart in its purest form is roughly equivalent to a homemade version of one of those Little Debbie pecan pies in the petite aluminum tin, with all of the pecans picked off, leaving only the caramelized heaven underneath. Butter tarts are as ubiquitous in southern Ontario as green chile is on Central Avenue, and they're a subject about which people have equally firm and loudly-stated opinions: Where are the best ones? (I'm fond of the ones at Second Cup, a Starbucks-like local coffee chain.) With add-ons or without? (Although plain butter tarts are, I think, best, raisins and/or chopped walnuts are increasingly common.) How many should one person eat in a single day? (Okay, it's my wife who has an opinion on that. Let's just say her number is smaller than mine.) We didn't get to Toronto this fall, so I decided to come up with my own iteration of this Canadian classic.