after reading a rave review of the food at Downsview market in The Star, we decide to head out to the 'burbs to check it out. first challenge: figuring out how to get there by TTC, because the article mistakenly assumes anyone going there will have a car. fortunately, the market is close to Downsview subway station (the last stop on the line)...and even more fortunately, a Shepherd West bus turns up at the station soon after we step off the subway, so we don't have to walk anywhere in the biting wind. the market is easy to spot from the bus, so we hop off & head in past the farmers' market.
the decent-looking vege are followed by nearly five hundred discount stalls, selling everything from ipods to shimmering religious clocks (Christ, Buddha, Ganesh, and Mecca all available, ranked equally in a neat row).past rows of Gucci purse knock-offs & antique teacups, right at the back, there's the food fair. the space is pretty spartan, weirdly punctuated by giant plastic green-blob-tree things. but i soon discover that in this anti-chain food court, the food is hand-made, carefully-considered, and made by people who really want you to enjoy your meal--call it food ambassadorship.
i kick off my meal with an amazing soursop smoothie at the Juicy Hut, sweetened with sugar cane (inspired by the drinks sold on the street in Vietnam, here they peel & grind the cane right in front of you--very cool).i'm browsing past the other stands trying to decide what to have (tacos? sushi? shark & bake?) when Niam Kabiri hands me a glass of Afghani tea. "Very good for your health," he says. i drink the tea (in a real glass) and decide to try a bolani, a kind of fried vegetable-stuffed bread. his wife rolls out a ball of dough, spreads it with vegetable paste, and makes it freshly just for me. while i'm waiting for it to finish cooking, i wander further down the line of stands, and get a bowl of West Indian ox-tail soup to go with the Afghani bread. my husband chooses a chicken roti from a different stand. it's all fantastic, and as the place gets crowded for lunch, people start sharing tables, plunking down plates of Italian and Guatelamalan and Chinese foods.
makes me think that Downsview's food court would make a better ambassador to the world than most of our politicians...