The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.20.08


Give Sir Paul, peace, and margarine a chance

For those who don't know, Quebec has a lot to look forward to this summer. For one, citizens will finally be able to legally purchase and consume yellow margarine. I know, this basic human right is pale in comparison to say, freedom of speech, and the right to vote and all that, but this is really big news here.

Yes, its true, after twenty-one years of spreading colorless and lard-like goop on our toast, the authorities have seen fit to allow us a little culinary freedom. I'm not sure whether I'm happy with this news because along with its delivery comes a hint that butter producers just may remove said color from butter itself for Quebec markets. I've declared before that the dairy lobby thinks we aren't smart enough to differentiate between butter and Oleo and this proves it.

Will I be first in line when yellow margarine hits the shelves? I doubt it because, truth be told, I have become accustomed to white lard on my croissant. Sure, I'll buy a tub just to exercise my right to do so, but I don't predict gate crashing and long line-ups of margarine toting customers on day one.

Meanwhile, on another earth-shaking front

Where there will be gate crashing and line-ups will be in Quebec City today as Sir Paul McCartney plays a free concert on the Plains of Abraham to celebrate Quebec's 400th anniversary.

This has caused no end of grief for sovereignists who believe it is an insult to allow a Brit to celebrate with us at all.

Fanning flames to a historic fire is the fact that the concert will be staged on the same battlefield where General Wolfe toppled an advancing column of French troops led by Lois Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm in 1759.

Meanwhile, insults of insults, and a visible continuation of the battle according to Quebec nationalists, Quebec's internationally celebrated vedette, Céline Dion was previously destined to play in an open (smaller) field down the road. Organizers have now called a truce permitting Dion to play on the same grounds as Sir Paul that should allow an audience of equal prominence and size to attend both concerts.

Anyone who knows about our sign and language laws here knows what import size and prominence plays in the identity of La Belle Province. Don't get me started about dominance or racism for that matter...

In a recent CBC, or plutô Radio Canada interview, Sir Paul called us "Quebeckians" and offered this advice to separatists.

"I think it's time to, you know, smoke the pipe of peace and just put away the hatchets, because I think it's a show about friendship."

As a side note, at the famous battle of the plains, some 300 "native warriors" played a key role in the British victory. Whether hatchets were employed is better answered by historians. McCartney released an album entitled Pipes of Peace in 1984 and his last visit to Quebec was with another well-known group who played at the Montreal forum in September of 1964.

Meanwhile a group of old stock "Quebeckians" called the Collectif Nationalite Francaise is pushing to be French citizens based on ancestry. One individual, Marie Mance Vallee, is petitioning the French government to give her a passport saying she just doesn't want to be identified as Canadian.

"It's a question of identity," she said. "I never thought of myself as Canadian. The word means nothing to me." As long as Quebec isn't independent, I don't have an identity. I am a Qu&eacurte;bécois, but that's not an official title."

She claims French ancestry dating back to the 1650's. In tandem, a Quebec City artist and sculptor Pierre Archambault recently labeled McCartney an "international Anglo Saxon Idol."

Finally, after 400 years of struggle, Quebeckers and Québécois, (Anglo Saxons and Français de souche alike) have reasons to celebrate together this summer, having gained the collective freedom to choose what color of margarine we spread on our toast or croissants while listening to music in whatever language we like. I'm not predicting a bilingual Céline and Paul duet just yet however and personally, whatever happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas, I say.

Help Them To Learn (Help Them To Learn)

Songs Of Joy Instead Of Burn, Baby, Burn(Burn, Baby Burn)

Let Us Show Them How To Play The Pipes Of Peace

Play The Pipes Of Peace

[Verse from Pipes of Peace/Paul McCartney]