Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Come & Share Toronto's diverse Spring Celebrations: Persian New Year, Qing Ming, Passover, Easter & Spring Equinox!

"Live in each season as it passes; 
breathe the air, 
drink the drink, 
taste the fruit." 
~Henry David Thoreau 

 @SOMAChocolate 's
Easter Egg is a sign of spring
Magnolia tree blossoms:
a true sign of spring
Hey Toronto, it's spring! Well, if you went according to the calendar, spring started as of March 21st, though you wouldn't know judging by the flip flopping back and forth between Old Man Winter and Spring!  When I'm not tempering a bowl of dark chocolate as @SChocolateMagic, or leading one of my theme Foodie/LitWalks/GhostWalks as @ATasteOfWorld, I go off-the-beaten-paths in various Toronto neighbourhoods on long, relaxing strolls, to savour the unique four seasons with my hubby.

I'm always thrilled when I spy my first signs of spring: the red breast robins hopping around in search of fat, juicy worms... the tender buds starting to grow on tree branches... and of course, the kaleidescope of spring flowers and herbs popping up out of the soil.  It's spring!  The earth is finally waking up from its long wintry slumber.  I don't know about you, but this year, more than ever, I'm truly relishing the beautiful unfolding of spring's lush bounty.

As a Toronto-born and -bred,  culinary historian, I love how Spring comes in many guises and it is increasingly celebrated in many diverse ways in Toronto, from March 21st to end with Summer Solstice!   March 21st gets a nod from most folks, but for Toronto Persians, this same date marks the first day of the Persian New Year, and the beginning of a new agricultural season. It's a week long of festivities surrounded by family, friends, and lots of good food.  The Chinese community then gets a turn at celebrating spring with the Qing Ming Festival, which means 'pure and clean'.  It takes place 106 days after the Winter Solstice.  Traditionally, it is spring cleaning for your deceased relatives' grave sites, and celebrating their lives with food and drink offerings around April 5th (April 6th if Leap Year). 
Easter cookies

Next, you have Passover which begins April 14th and then ends April 21st, so you'll see this being observed by Torontonians of the Jewish faith. Following on the heel of Passover, we have Easter Sunday. Then we have the Spring Equinox on May 1st, if you're practicing Wiccans. Each of these spring festivals include a common denominator - food, food, food! Does Toronto, the Meeting Place live up to its namesake? I think Toronto does, and for that reason, we figured that it's much more fun to celebrate as many of these spring festivities as possible on our Foodies, LitWalks and even, surprisingly on the Ghost Walks as well! 

On our food tours I get excited about taking advantage of seasonal Ontario produce and intense fresh flavours. Since April is National Poetry Month, we'll definitely recite the late Canadian poet, Irving Layton's poem "Ode to the Olives" and then savour the wickedly delicious black Moroccan olives along our Kensington Foodies Roots tours. If you always wondered about the Chinese BBQ treats, you'll savour the connections with the Chinese food festival called Qing Ming!

On the two Literary Detective walks, we get to see Toronto through the eyes of British author, Charles Dickens during his brief visit in 1842, and beloved Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery while living in Toronto between 1935-1942. The existing and lost landmarks come alive as your tour guide uses old diaries, letters, excerpts from books and maps. Did I mention that along the Swansea & LM Montgomery walks I bring along Aunt Maud's Recipe Book? Ever tried her Boston Cookies? 

On the four unique ghost walks, we share with you the unique energy on the evenings before/after Spring Equinox, when the veil between light and darkness is the thinnest, thus making it easier to contact beloved dead ones. Since our ghost walks are limited to 13 lucky guests, the experience is intimately spookier!  Bring along your digital cameras, as you'll have a higher chance of a ghostly bonus!

"Walking is man's best medicine." ~Hippocrates


* Second Chinatown Foodies Tour with Qing Ming Festival *

    Friday April 18th, 2014 10:00 am - 1:30 pm

    Sunday April 27th, May 11 (Mother's Day) 2014 10:00 am -1:30 pm

* Kensington Spring/Easter Foodies Roots Tours *
   Saturday April 19th,  May 10th, 2014 

* Lost First Chinatown Foodies Tour * 

    Sunday May 4th, 2014  10:00 am - 1:30 pm

** Asian Heritage Month Workshop with Toronto Public Library **

    Chinese Cooking with Shirley Lum in Preparations for the Dragon Boat Festival
     Saturday May 31st, 2014 11:00 am - 12 Noon 
FREE Hands-on Demo & Tasting of Sticky Rice Dumplings of various regions
Space is limited
Register: in person at Lillian H Smith Branch or calling branch (416) 393-7746

Sticky Rice Dumpling with Contemporary Filling 


Do you think Dickens or Montgomery knocked on this door?

* In the Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 *
    Saturday May 3rd, 2014  3:00 - 5:30pm

* Swansea Village & Lucy Maud Montgomery * 
    Saturday April 19, May 17,  3:00 - 5:30 pm


* Ghosts, Greasepaint & Gallows * 
   Friday April 25th & May 2nd, 2014 6:30 - 9:00 pm

* Haunted Yorkville, U of T & Queen's Park *
   Tuesday April 29th, 2014 6:30 - 9:00 pm

* Phantoms, Players & Pundits *
  Wednesday April 30th, 2014 6:30-9:00 pm

* Haunted Kensington, Chinatown & The Grange * 
   Thursday May 1st, 2014 6:30-9:00 pm

Pre-Registration is necessary to ensure your spots and treats are reserved under your name. You can call to reserve at (416) 923-6813 or e-mail or  RSVP on our Facebook page  for A Taste of the World 

I hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather, longer days, and brighter sunny days! See you on one of our unique repertoire of off-the-beaten-path theme walks!

"Walk and be happy. 
Walk and be healthy." 
~Charles Dickens