Sunday, April 6, 2008

Little India

The latest census shows that South Asian immigrants have outpaced Asian immigrants as the most numerous "minority" group in Toronto. I put minority in quotes because it seems an increasingly silly name for anyone who doesn't fall into the group of People Who Have White Skin. No one group comprises a majority of our city's population anymore.

Anyway, blah blah blah... I didn't intend to start going on about politics. I wanted to show off some photos I took of Little India, or, as the city has officially named it, the Gerrard India Bazaar.

Ken and I went for lunch at Bar-Be-Que Hut, known to us as The Restaurant Where The White People Go. This is because the curries are tame, and suited to those of us who weren't raised from childhood to tolerate blazing heat.

Ken occasionally gets it into his head to go to one of the other restaurants on the strip, but if there's not a high proportion of white diners, he won't convince me to eat there. This isn't because of any racism on my part, but because I learned my lesson the hard way at the Lahore Tikka House a few years ago.

The Lahore Tikka House is hardcore. We were the only non-East-Indian people there. And clearly it was unusual for outsiders to venture in. We were surrounded by families in traditional Indian garb, and people were openly staring at us.

Of the food, what I remember most was the dahl (curried lentils) that was served still sizzling in a cast-iron frying pan. There was so much hot pepper in the curry that within a few mouthfuls, my lips actually went numb. This only foreshadowed the pain that was in store for me later, as the burning hotness worked its way through every inch of my tender digestive tract.

Bar-Be-Que Hut is much more enjoyable on every level. They even keep a TV constantly running DVD's of upbeat Bollywood dance routines. This is the best example of Bollywood that I could find on YouTube. Bar-Be-Que Hut's discs are even better.

Some other businesses in Little India:

These guys were in the window of the video store. I figure they kind of balance out the photos from my Trashy Girl Fashions post.

There you go, ladies! Feast your eyes.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love genuine Indian food. I can't always handle the spices and the heat but I push through it none the less, burning lips, watery eyes and all.

What is up with the porn guys!

Aurora said...

I could watch Bollywood movies for hours.

I'm glad to know what the Lahore Tikka house is like. I've always wondered, since they never seem to be finished building it! It's always covered in plastic when we go past and we *always* say to each other... "What happened... did the builder run off with some of the cash?"

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Cool places. I would love to try some of the real Indian food. My problem is I'm an adventurous eater, but everyone I know is pretty tame. So I always get outvoted when I want to go to questionable places.

Nilsa S. said...

I always heard of lots of similarities between Toronto and Chicago. This post shows that - little pockets or neighborhoods devoted to the many cultures of the city. Love it!

Sparkling Red said...

1218blog: So you're one of those who will eat dinner with a box of tissues on the table to wipe away the tears! ;-) I don't know what's up with those guys, but I couldn't resist posting them. With all that talk of hot curries, hot abs seemed to match the overall theme.

Aurora: The Lahore Tikka House has been under construction for years, but they have never completely closed. They close one bit and keep another open. It makes the progress slow, but they don't lose any business. So if you're feeling brave, you could go anytime!

Ron: If you ever come to Toronto, I'll send you and Ken to the Lahore Tikka House together. Too bad that you don't have an adventurous eating companion. I would like to be more adventurous, but I just can't take the physical pain!

Sparkling Red said...

Nilsa: I'd like to visit Chicago someday to see what the parallel neighbourhoods have to offer. Over this summer I'm planning to document some of the other Littlevilles here, so you'll be seeing more. :-)

Anonymous said...

Instead of eating the chili and waiting for the paint to come - I just insert the chili directly into my ass bypassing the whole annoying eating process.

Bring The Pain!

Dianne said...

I was glad to read in comments that you plan to document more Littlvilles.

I enjoyed this post, the photos were great.

Karen said...

I probably enjoy Indian culture more than your average white person. I watch a lot of Bollywood movies and follow the gossip. I like some Indian food, but I do not like curry. I guess that like being Italian and saying you don't like garlic.

jameil1922 said...

i loooooooove lassis!!!! YUM!! this made me want to get some indian food post haste!! Lahore Tikka House did that on purpose!! lol. they were like "oh we'll show them this is for the real indians. if they can hang, they can come back." lolol

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: Charming. Just charming.

Dianne: Thanks! I enjoy sharing my beloved city. :-)

Karen: Really! I'm surprised. I never expect non-Indians to be interested in Bollywood unless they're really into films. I don't know much about it myself, except what I happen to see while I'm in that neighbourhood.

Jameil: True! I definitely didn't pass the test. The look on my face as I struggled to eat dinner must have said it all. :-0

Jenski said...

This just reminds me of how sad it is that I do not visit a particular local Indian buffet frequently enough. It always speaks well of the food if you are the only person in there who does not eat that food every day.

I agree the whole term "minority" is rather not-quite-right.

PixieVonAzia said...

They are sooo colorful. And hello! Those are some hotties even though they are only on poster :D

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: The best Indian buffet I ever had was in Ottawa, which is a 5-hour drive from Toronto. I'm tempted to go all the way there just to re-experience the yummy shrimp curry!

Pixie Von Azia: Ah, yes, the two international languages: food and "love". ;-)

Claire said...

Hee. Boy porn.


Keera Ann Fox said...

Thank you for that last photo! Too bad we don't have that sort of advertising here. Too, too bad.