It’s easy to forget where I was whilst in Montreal – none more so than in one of its most iconic markets.
Even the marché in Marché Jean-Talon suggested I was in a Francophilic quarter of the world; indeed, the fluorescent sign hanging above the indoor market hall isn’t the only French lexicon visible, with signboards, price tags, can inscriptions – even plastic bags – donning the language. The fleur-de-lis, coloured blue and white, speckled the place as both Quebec’s provincial flag and stalwart connection to France.
But hang on, wasn’t I supposed to be in North America?
Canadian English were the sounds at tips of tongues with the odd jumbling of Québécois, the distinctive form of French that firmly places its speakers – and listeners – in Quebec, Canada. I could be feeling dislocated, yet I didn’t think I was swept away to anywhere else but the one where English and French are so interbred.
Perhaps food alone wasn’t the appeal of Jean-Talon Market. It’s the so-often cross-pollination and intertwined fates of former colonies: confusingly multiracial and amalgamated, yet amazingly unique in their compound identity.
And that includes their culinary individuality.