So, for a few weeks, this blog should be called “At Home in Canada“, because that’s where we are and where we will spend the holidays.
We have already spent a week in the country actually: right now we are in Ottawa after a few days in Toronto. Let me tell you that we have been helping the Canadian economy quite a bit… However, the last time we were in Canada was two years ago, and we have noticed a significant increase in the cost of living. Eating out, gas, and food have become quite expensive compared to 2008. What surprised us the most was the price for shampoo, conditioner, shower cream, etc., which we hadn’t packed to avoid the hassle of bringing liquids on the plane. We had a hard time finding anything below 8 dollars, with the stuff we usually use costing around 12 dollars?! We finally found a couple of offers for the same products and we were able to get them for 6 dollars each, but still… Truth be told, the smallest bottle we could find was almost 400 ml so maybe that’s why they seem more expensive than back at home… who knows. Bread has also become quite expensive, with a loaf of bread at about 4 dollars… Clothes on the other hand are still incredibly cheap and the choice is much wider I find.
I’m also starting to think that the Canadian cold winter is a myth. 🙂 It’s the second time we’ve been in Canada in winter and it’s the second time we’ve found better weather in Toronto than in Pisa! We left just in time, before the airport was closed on Dec. 17th… An hour later and we would have been left on the ground. And in Toronto, not an inch of snow. Nothing. Not too cold either, except for maybe yesterday, when the wind was kind of chilly. Nothing terrible, though. In Ottawa there is a bit of snow on the ground: enough to make me happy. But it’s sunny and pleasant. Excellent weather to have a white Christmas without freezing. I am not equipped for the cold…
Of course I caught a cold anyway. I’m Italian… you know… a bit of chill in the back of my neck and that’s it… Well, actually I think what we Italians are not used to is the huge difference in temperature between indoor and outdoor spaces. Dear God, it’s hot inside stores and houses. Marcel, my husband, makes fun of me for always taking off my coat, scarf and hat every single time I get in the car, in a shop, in a house, etc. I just have no other way to avoid getting sick. I am not used to such high temperatures indoors, and even if I dress in layers, it is still way too warm for me. And outside… well, even if the locals still dress in light clothes and it’s objectively not that cold… well, it’s still cold enough for me. I know, I know… damn Italians, never happy, always complaining!! 🙂
Actually I’m loving being in Canada as usual. There are several things that fascinate me. Things we don’t see in Italy… The houses: boy, I love Canadian houses… even the smallest ones, with their little garden, the Christmas decorations, the trees, the cozy interiors, the quaint neighbourhoods… I just wish I could have a house like that in Italy. I guess it wouldn’t be appropriate in Tuscany, but hey, who cares? They are so beautiful!
The snow… I know this is not snow, ok, ok… I get it. When Canadians say they have snow it means they can’t open their front door… 15cm is not snow… well, it is for an Italian. We get 4 cm and the country stops working… 15 cm of snow are just fascinating. So pretty!
The swamps… the sound of it is not poetic, unless you are Shrek, I guess, but I find the swamps with the frozen ponds, the trunks, the fallen trees, and the unspoilt coat of snow just fascinating, mysterious in a way.
The small rural villages with farmhouses and… nothing else. Passing them by train I was left wondering how those people live, far from practically anything. You would think that coming from a village of 350 people that wouldn’t be too curious a thing, but even the smallest village in Italy is still a village, with some sort of center, not far from some sort of city. Here it seems that some of the farms are 2 hours away from anything… The horses in little blue coats were also cool to see, by the way!
Last but not least… the turkey… boy it’s a big bird. And yet it fits in the oven of any average Canadian kitchen… it would certainly not fit in my 60cm Ariston oven…
So, I’m getting ready for my first Canadian Christmas. My husband’s family celebrates at dinner time. Back at home, my family always celebrates at lunchtime. I am very excited to experience different traditions, even though I have to say that my mum’s menu (which she readily emailed me… just to make sure I didn’t forget what Christmas is like at home) makes me feel a bit home-sick… she’ll be serving a 9 course lunch, with various types of antipasti, lasagne, broth and tortellini, boiled meat with various sauces, roast beef, game meat, various vegetables, sformati, tiramisù and various traditional Christmas sweets like panforte and ricciarelli (which I confess I smuggled into Canada… you can take this girl out of Tuscany, but you can’t take Tuscany out of this girl…).