Canada by Way of Iowa and My Stomach

I’ve been hungry ever since I awoke, just before 5:00, this morning. Not just a bit peckish, mind you, but ravenously hungry. My hunger is the sort of sensation one might expect after being kidnapped and held without food—in a distant forest, miles from the nearest human outpost—for ten days. The hunger that causes my stomach to snap and growl like a rabid animal this morning is the absolute opposite of satiety. If appetite were a living, breathing being, mine is a beast so frantic and huge and its breath so furiously consumed in flames that you’d swear hunger and dragons arose from the same seed. Of course, you’d be right. The concept of dragons did, indeed, spring from feelings of intense hunger. It’s well-documented in the Modern American Encyclopedia of Emotional Hunger, fifth edition. There, on page 547, the story of hunger begins to be told. Seventeen pages later, on page 564, the story ends in a fiery, explosive howl. Scraps of habanero peppers, jalapeños, limes, and raw meat mix in a furious concoction that charitably can be described as maniacally hot. The pages on both sides of the entry are scorched; tinged brown from the heat of the descriptive text. It presents an awful image, one burned into my retinas as if I had stared at a total solar eclipse for half an hour or more.

So, have I satisfied my hunger yet this morning? No, I have not. I’m afraid nothing can; at least nothing readily available to me in this godforsaken wasteland. If I were where I should be right now—deep in French Quebec—I would be readying myself for a breakfast of a monstrous tourtière. My meal would have been prepared by a native Québécois woman, Juliette Jade Hultquist. This woman, who goes by the name Jade, has an intense and inexplicable interest in me. She longs to prepare food that will satisfy me at my core. A large, freshly-made tourtière will do just that. Though Jade cannot comprehend my passionate desire to spill almost a quarter of a cup of Tabasco sauce on her baked masterpiece, she does not object to it. She simply watches in appreciative silence as I consume the meal she prepared as fuel for my day.

You see what I did, don’t you? I transformed the auxillary verb, would by using “a bare infinitive to form the “anterior future”, indicating a futurity relative to a past time.” But I took it a step further, creating a present-tense reality from a wished-for and predicted future. Yet that’s irrelevant to the story, isn’t it? Of course it is. But that little detour did provide us both with an opportunity to let our over-heated emotions cool just a tad. We needed that, didn’t we?

Back to breakfast and Jade’s desire to satisfy my hunger for a French-Canadian breakfast. At least my version of a French-Canadian breakfast. While French-Canadians probably prefer tourtières for dinner, I suspect they would gladly join me in eating tourtières for breakfast. Those same French-Canadians might willingly eat poutine, too. I would do that again, though poutine probably will never be my first choice for breakfast. My friends Janet and Mike are in Quebec right now, though I doubt they are eating tourtières for breakfast. They should, though. They should. When they reach Nova Scotia, they should be sure to eat donairs, dulse, Nova Scotian oysters, and rappie pie, among other things quintessentially Nova Scotian. And if they happen to pass through Annapolis Royal while on their tour, they should look up my friend Bev. Bev does not eat meat, though, so tourtières are off the table for their shared meal with her.

Writing about food and its myriad mythic powers has done nothing to assuage my hunger. If anything, my passion has grown stronger and more assertive since I left my bed. Alas, I doubt I’ll be able to find tourtières or anything like them around here. I may have to drive to Iowa if I hope to satisfy my heretofore insatiable hunger. Perhaps the one restaurant I most want to try for breakfast in Fairfield, Iowa is the Istanbul Grill. I might try their Turkish Breakfast Plate, consisting of grilled juicy sucuk (Turkish sausage…usually beef or lamb, but in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan horse meat sometimes is used), tomatoes, cucumbers, green olives, grilled red bell peppers, and feta cheese.

If I do not eat something soon, I doubt I’ll perish from malnutrition. Speaking of malnutrition, it’s entirely possible to suffer from malnutrition in spite of keeping one’s belly full. Especially if one’s belly is full of donuts, bread, sweetened iced tea, potatoes, rice, angel food cake, and fried bananas. I would avoid those dishes to the extent one’s discipline allows it.

I checked to see when McDonald’s opens for breakfast. They have been open for an hour and a half. I could have run down there and bought several breakfast burritos (which probably are unhealthy and most certainly are not “burritos” in the sense that they are authentic…nothing at McDonald’s is authentic, in my book). But I haven’t done that. Instead, I’ve spend my time wasting away and wishing I could have a Canadian breakfast with my friends who are driving an RV toward Nova Scotia. There’s no point in continuing this diatribe in opposition to the absence of tolerable (and, I must say it, alluring) breakfast.


Today, I will shower. First, I will wrap my left forearm and hand in a waterproof plastic bag. The bag will protect my Mohs-procedure-affected hand from getting wet and soapy, two things I should avoid (plus lifting, bending my hand, and otherwise putting even the slightest stress on the delicate stitches the doctor used to sew me back together after the surgical removal of a significant portion of my left hand (well, it’s more like the size of the fingernail on my little finger).  I will shave, as well. In fact, I will pretend I am a fully-functioning adult male human. And off I go.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Canada by Way of Iowa and My Stomach

  1. You’ve introduced me to two new Canadian delicacies! I’ll have to give Nanaimo bars and butter tarts a try!

  2. Hope says:

    Tourtiere is delicious. Even though I live across the country from Quebec I have friends here who make it. I’ve never acquired a taste for poutine but the rest of my family has. Then there are Nanaimo bars and butter tarts. Both delicious.

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