Tag Archives: poutine

Don’t Diss My Beaver

Monday July 1 was Canada Day, and I realized it’s been a few years since I wrote a ‘distinctly Canadian’ post.  It’s time I did, because somebody needs to defend the honour of our national animal (again).

Apparently our own esteemed Canadian, June Callwood, once said, “The beaver, which has come to represent Canada as the eagle does the United States and the lion Britain, is a flat-tailed, slow-witted, toothy rodent known to bite off its own testicles or to stand under its own falling trees.”

When I read that, I was crushed.  (Although not as severely as our dumb beavers, I guess.)  I had defended the beaver’s noble image back in 2011.  Surely there was some mistake.  Could I still be proud of our Canadian icon?

So your intrepid reporter delved deeply into the matter.  (Okay, fine; I spent a couple of minutes searching the internet.)  And it turns out that beavers do not, in fact, bite off their own testicles.  Whew.

That little fable started in ancient times.  They believed that if a beaver was cornered by hunters attempting to kill it for its castoreum (the gooey musk which the ancients incorrectly believed came from its testicles), the beaver would bite off its own testicles and throw them to the hunters, thereby escaping with its life.  The legend went on to say that if pursued by a subsequent batch of hunters, the crafty beaver would scurry to a high place and lift its leg to display its nutless status.

On to ‘modern’ times (the 17th century).  That’s when Sir Thomas Browne noted that a) Castoreum comes from the beaver’s anal glands, not its testicles; and b) Beavers don’t even have external testicles – they’re inside its body, so it’d be kinda tricky to bite them off.

Ha.  So once again the noble beaver rises above a scurrilous attack on its reputation.  (Although apparently beavers do occasionally get crushed by their own falling trees; but I’m gonna give our plucky little rodents a pass on that one.  Even professional lumberjacks sometimes have accidents.  It’s not stupidity; it’s just bad luck.)

And while I’m on my soapbox defending Canadian icons, I also want to address poutine.  First:  We Anglophones usually say ‘poo-TEEN’; but the correct pronunciation is rendered with a Québécois accent, which softens the ‘t’ to a sibilant ‘th’ and accents both syllables equally:  ‘pou-thsinn’.

But pronunciation doesn’t matter as much as authenticity.  I’ve run across some horrible bastardizations of the dish, and I want to make sure no innocent reader of mine believes that mess is actually poutine.

Check out the top right photo in this Wikipedia article.  That’s how poutine should look.  It’s NOT heavy opaque gravy poured over grated mozzarella — that’s cheese-fries-with-gravy.  Real poutine has clear savory sauce and nice big cheese curds that are so fresh they squeak when you chew them.  Don’t be fooled by poor imitations!

So that’s my community service for Canada Day.  Now, let’s have some poutine, and bring on the beaver jokes!

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Great Balls Of Portent

Every now and then I think to myself, “Diane, maybe it’s time you grew up. Seriously, you’re a fifty-year-old woman. Don’t you think it’s time you stopped snickering at farts and tasteless double entendres? Even teenagers aren’t as dirty-minded as you.”

And just about the time I take a deep breath and decide to squelch my baser nature and write nothing but G-rated blog posts forever more, I find an anatomically correct building.  (And it’s Canajen, eh?)  Newmarket Health Centre in Ontario, Canada, was kindly brought to my attention by the CTV news team: http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/aerial-view-of-anatomically-correct-newmarket-health-centre-sparks-jokes-worldwide-1.2254688.

I don’t care how innocent and/or politically correct you are, there’s only one thing that building resembles.

It was built in 1951 and nobody seems to recall who the architect was. He (I use the male pronoun because it seems the most probable) just couldn’t have drawn up those plans without recognizing the likeness. And the terracotta-coloured scrotum is the biggest joke of all – there’s no way that was accidental. It sticks out like a sore… um… never mind.

The architect probably thought he was safe in perpetrating his practical joke. After all, there was no Google Earth or satellite view available to the general public in the 50s. But now his puerile sense of humour is, erm, exposed, for all to see.

I think it’s hilarious, but remember I was innocent in this. I didn’t go looking for the likeness on my own – even I am not so twisted that I scour aerial maps in the hope of finding suggestively-shaped buildings. Nope; fate just dumped this article in my lap. So to speak.

Coincidence, right?

I think not.

Exactly a day after the Newmarket Man showed up in my news feed, my friend Chris sent me a link to “the tastiest balls you’ll ever put in your mouth”.  If you want to try ‘em, the recipe is here:  http://www.mtlblog.com/2015/02/poutine-poppers-are-the-mini-mouthgasm-you-need-to-eat-now/#

Needless to say, the tagline incited a few comments, largely focusing on the quantity of comparative research required in order to authoritatively apply the superlative. (Or, as we boorish types put it: “How many balls has he actually tasted?”)

Again, there’s really no polite and wholesome way to take this. Unless you were raised in a social vacuum by a Victorian nanny, a tagline like that is going to make you laugh. Or choke, I guess.

But my point is this: These two items popped up completely unsolicited, only a day apart, immediately after I’d considered cleaning up my act. They’re clearly a message from some higher (or probably lower) power: A clean mind just isn’t in the cards for me.

Since omens frequently arrive in threes, I waited with bated breath to see if fate would offer me any more family jewels. But, nope; that was it for this week.

When I think about it, though, I guess it makes sense. Balls generally come in pairs.

Did you get any portents this week?

P.S. I just realized it’s been nearly three whole years since I last wrote a post about balls: https://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/05/02/oh-balls/. Maybe my mind is cleaner than I think. But probably not.

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