Happy Fall Long Weekend!

Hello, friends! Here in North America, this weekend is basically Fall Long Weekend, although we’re quite split about why exactly we have Monday off. For those of us North of the USA, it’s Thanksgiving on Monday! In America, Monday is Columbus Day. If I had a little bit more emotional energy, or if I hadn’t given up caffeine (I need to tell you about this ASAP), I might write a rant about Columbus Day. Instead, I will share some memes with you, close my laptop and enjoy apple cider and cinnamon donuts with my family.

In my heart, Thanksgiving is still the last Thursday in November. But hey, I’m open to having two days to eat pumpkin pie, spend time with loved ones and practice thankfulness!



The Difference(s) Between Southern Virginia and Ontario

Sometimes, even going “home” to the USA can be confusing. Last week I went to Lynchburg, Virginia to be a bridesmaid in my dear friend Kristina’s wedding. A typical Northerner, I thought to myself, “Virginia. I’ve been there. Arlington, Washington, D.C.*, yup, I can do Virginia, I am American“.

It turns out Virginia is much bigger than I originally thought…

And then I spent the majority of the weekend experiencing culture shock. Because Lynchburg is something like the Deep South for this Pennsylvanian/Ontarian. Two things that kept surprising me the whole weekend were people’s southern accents (so lovable!), and how friendly everyone was–especially strangers, cashiers, etc. Seriously people: culture shock.

For example, on the first morning we headed out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. If you don’t know about Cracker Barrel, get yourself to the US of A and have a taste of deliciousness. Anyway. I was trying to order apple struesel french toast (YUM!) and a cup of decaf tea.

Waitress: (In a southern accent) Okay, Love, what about you? Coffee?

Me: Actually, do you have decaf tea?

Waitress: Cold or hot, darling?

Me: Uhm. (Did we resolve the decaf issue? Are we talking about tea?)

Kristina’s Mom Who Is From the South: Amelia, do you want iced tea or hot tea?

Me: Oh. Hot tea. Yes. Hot. Can I have decaf?

Waitress: Why of course, darling!

As I sat bewildered by our exchange, Kristina’s Mom explained that the default is iced tea, so you have to specify. (Seriously, it’s morning and I’m ordering decaffeinated beverages, have mercy!)

The next day, at the rehearsal dinner, the groom proudly announced that his sister made the cake for dessert.

Me: What kind of cake did he say?

Bridesmaid from Florida: Cheerwine.

Me: What?

Bridesmaid from Florida: You know, cheerwine.

Me: I have no idea what that is.

Bridesmaid from Florida: You don’t know cheerwine? It’s like a cherry mountain dew.

Me: But it’s a cake?

Apparently, you use pop (soda in Virginia) called Cheerwine, to make a cake.

It must be, because in Canada, we’ve never heard of it…

Although I was skeptical (‘you use pop to make a cake?’) it was actually quite moist, sweet and cherry-y.

Cheerwine cake

In the midst of the large portion sizes and terms of endearment from strangers (‘love’, ‘honey’, ‘dear’, ‘sweetheart’–I almost didn’t notice Varun was absent!), we had an awesome time. The bride and groom were bursting with love, the food was delicious, the weather was perfect.

I was reminded this week how big and diverse the USA is. Who knew that just 12 hours south of Ontario is a land of Chick Fil A, sweet tea and friendly cashiers?

Driving through the hills of Virginia

*I realize D.C. isn’t VA, but it always ends up that my trips to DC include VA and MD…

Love and Dessert

I love dessert. Whenever I’m invited to a friend’s house for supper, I ask what I can bring. Partly because Mama raised me right, and partly because by offering I believe can ensure that dessert will be served.

As kids, my siblings and I found countless ways to ingest sugar. On summer nights we’d slurp down “Mud” (mint chocolate chip milkshakes with oreos), and on Snow Days we’d steal piping hot chocolate chip cookies off of the cooling rack.

Upon meeting Varun, my ideas about dessert were challenged. Instead of cookies or cake, traditionally, Indians eat brightly coloured “sweets”: laddus, jalebi, gulab jammun–just to name a few.


The first time I ate laddu’s, the small round sugary balls reminded me of donut holes (or Tim Bits, for my Canadian friends). As such, I popped an entire one into my mouth. OHMAGOSH. These things are sugar bombs. It now takes me between 15-20 nibbles to work my way through one, along with a generous cup of water.

This is where it gets ironic: I find most Indian sweets too sweet. And Varun finds many (or most) Western Desserts too sweet. Sometimes I feel this may be a cosmic prank. And sometimes we find ourselves in serious dessert limbo.

Jalebi (fried, sugary syrup in super cool, squiggly patterns)

I’m particularly fond of a Sicilian dessert that I grew up on: cannoli. It’s a sweet, crunchy pastry shell filled with creamy and sugary ricotta-based filling. YUM. Before we went to Maine, my Mom went to her favorite bakery in Brooklyn to load up on cannoli.

Mom: Should I bring you some?

Me: YES! But please get extra filling. Because they always cheap out on you on the filling and no one actually wants the shell.

Mom: Okay. I’ll ask for extra filling.

Me: But seriously. However much she tells you, even after you ask for extra, get more. Unless you need both hands to carry it out of the store, you didn’t get enough.

Mom: Haha, okay! Oh! I can freeze some so you’ll even have leftovers to take to Canada.

(You see, of course, why I love my Mother. And why I love dessert.)

Guess who brought me 4 quarts (3.78 L) of cannoli cream? YUP. That’s right, my Mom. I am now the proud owner of I was the proud owner of 4 quarts of cannoli cream. Oh what creamy deliciousness I have enjoyed. There’s just one glitch: Varun, it seems, finds cannoli too sweet. (!!!). Yesterday, as we snuggled in to watch the final episode of Downton Abbey (I told you I’d get him to love it. He was simply addicted!!) I made myself a cannoli. Like any true addict, I decided it would taste better if someone else had one too (“One can’t hurt…”). Varun was adamant, no cannoli. But yes dessert. I found my last pasta di mandorla. He smelled the almond through the wrapping and grabbed at it. I grabbed back. We laughed. (We’re not real grown-ups, mind you)

Me: Okay, Varun. You can have this cookie. But I have to tell you something.

Varun: (Laughing) Um, okay.

Me: This cookie is very special. It’s from a special bakery in Sicily. My family got my brother in law to send some when he was there. They are very good and it’s my last one and it’s almond (this is Varun’s key word, as he [wrongly] believes that all desserts are better with nuts) AND-

Varun: And it’s from Grandma? OHMAGOSH I can’t eat your Last Cookie From Grandma.

Me: Yes! Yes it is! And you can! That’s why I’m telling you because it’s so delicious and so special!

(Varun tastes a bite)

Varun: This is so good. (Munching) When can we buy our plane tickets to Italy?

The lesson here is, if you love someone very much, you can work through all kinds of differences, even over dessert.

(And in case you thought it’s just my Mom and I who have a dessert problem…)

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