What’s Eating Ezra? Food of the Gods and ‘Mere Mortals’ at Adonis
By Ezra Braves
Scarborough’s Adonis (from Québec, and part of the Metro family) falls into my category of visiting local grocery stores when travelling. While many fetishise the food scene, latest and greatest restaurants, and by some miracle, receive an actually good word-of-mouth spot or top 10 (highly curated and self-congratulatory) TripAdvisor suggestions, nothing gives me more pleasure than walking up and down the aisles of this local – my middle-aged idea of fun (I used to be fun, sigh) – maybe my three-kid, constant marathon existence, is elevated by my blissful grocery store wanderings. In these moments, I realise the inspiration for zombie movies – I have become one.
My kids generally hate doing errands with me (because I’m not fun anymore), so I’ve changed the name from errands to food adventures. Seems to work. I’m tired of the new status quo where all parents need to be their kids’ entertainers – somehow we’ve failed as parents if we don’t give our kids the space to grow untethered and expand their imagination. Take away their screens, I say. Take them to Adonis.
Bread is fundamental. It unites and connects us in the present, and to our past. Despite what bread has become, in commercial ovens across the globe, warm, fresh bread still has the power to penetrate deeply into all our senses and memories. It comforts us. That is one of the many reasons I love Adonis (despite barely being able to digest wheat anymore).
While I should be quietly protesting yet another mass-produced, factory-made, non-artisan-barely-resembling-food-product, here, it is magic.
Here, it is the heart of this grocery store body-of-perfection – the pita is Adonis. My kids are mesmerised. I’m brought back to my polka-dot-behind-the-door childhood of watching how things work.
We wait silently beside the entrance to this brilliant and gleaming, clear, acrylic structure smack in the centre of the store – inside, the twisting, multilevel conveyor belt highways carry flat raw discs on their journey from dough to emerge from the raging hot ovens as puffed pillows of pita perfection.
Out of Hades’ heat and covered in a fine dust of white flour, a baker comes to the door – he knows why we are here, and I feel a touch of shame that the bags of pita baked 30 min earlier simply won’t do for my west-end secretly hipster self.
I drop my head slightly, and with the weight of not wanting to disappoint my kids, I say, “Four bags…please?” Wordlessly, he hands them over and I feel a surge of victory. I can’t rip the bag open fast enough. I frantically head to the rows of hummus, open the cap, rip off a piece of the still warm pita, take a giant scoop, and urgently shove it in my mouth. Oh yeah, and then I give some to my kids – there is nothing civilised about this moment, and I am unapologetic.
Usually, I avoid the centre of a grocery store. It is the place where the evil, processed-almost-resembling-foods lie. I’m tired of having to fight hidden sugars and all corn-related by-product ingredients patiently hiding in my cookies only to surface years later as something carcinogenic – these are the dark sections of the grocery store where my soul turns grey. This is not my experience at Adonis.
Each aisle is another playground of tastes and excitement for me – pyramids of olive oils, mountains of fresh Ontario produce, glistening rows of olives, fresh nuts, feta cheeses, and endless fields of baklava, tanned and perfectly flaky, crunching, dripping in honey and roasted pistachios – there is real food here.
This is where, at long last, I found THE best za’atar and couscous in the city – and an honourable mention to fresh grape leaves, I’ve been looking everywhere. I need them for my homemade fermented pickles!
Mythological Adonis – the embodiment of youth, virility, and perfection. The bar is set high for us mortals, from which we can all measure our own insecurities (well, my deeper insecurities, anyway – sometimes I hate mythology!) where many brave souls dare to venture, the clouds open and a beam of light shines down on the torch at the corner of Warden and Eglinton. You can almost hear the choral crescendo as the light beams through, and every time I leave, I’m already planning my next trip.