This morning, rysmiel
and I were at a halal market, which they say has good meat, including good cold cuts, to get fruit and something to put on sandwiches. As rysmiel was looking at the ingredients on some smoked chicken, I looked at a package and went "Matjes!" in pleased surprise. Since I was enthusiastic, and we couldn't find smoked meat (only pastrami, which is a bit different), we got a package of matjes herring, as I wondered idly what language that word is from*. The rest of the large print on the package was in Polish, which neither of us knows. (The legally required small print was in French and English, of course, but the ingredients list just said "herring.")
There is absolutely nothing to stop herring from being halal (or kosher; I regularly buy kosher pickled herring in sour cream). I'm not sure how much of my surprise was seeing matjes in neat packages, and how much was the Polish package in a Montreal supermarket that has lots of hummus and date paste and other Middle Eastern foods (and fairly standard brands of tea and kinds of apple and such).
So, city life.
For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant in the Gay Village and ate pasta. On our walk back to the metro I saw banners on the street with amusing and/or inspirational quotes about various aspects of gay life and liberation. (I couldn't read all of them; my French isn't what it might be, though I can read more French than I can speak.) I spent some time chewing over "Being gay is not a choice; it is a necessity," going quickly from "not for me" to "yes, it is" to wondering what "being" means here. (I may be misremembering the phrasing, and what I'm working with is my on-the-fly translation, not what was printed on the cloth.) I trust the writer's description of his own experience, but once the text is printed on a banner above the sidewalk, people are going to apply it more broadly. For me, it's more complicated; the "not for me" tangles in with the different choices that come with being bi, as well as other people's tendencies to assume I'm straight if they see me with a male partner. But how much effort I make to be visible is separate from not making an effort to hide.
It would be nice to have a similar collection of banners in English, and maybe some in other languages, in my own Village.
was sitting at his computer when I told him this story, so he asked the net. With that spelling of "matjes," apparently either German or Swedish (Dutch would have another "a"). But I suspect that matjes is
the English, and maybe French, for that kind of herring, just as "biscotti" is the French and English for a particular kind of Italian-style cookie.