More Sikhs than you can shake a stick at!

And they were all eating, too, at least by the time I joined them at Nathan Phillips Square (the parade was held a little too early for me).

Yesterday was the big Khalsa Day Parade in downtown Toronto and, according to the Toronto Sun (the only major daily paper to report on it (!?!)) the attendance was approximately 60,000.

Not such a big deal, by LTTE-supporter standards, but still a visual feast because of the colours everywhere.

When I first encountered this festival at Nathan Phillips Square last year, I was surprised that all the food, bottled water, etc. was given freely to anyone. Usually these sorts of ethnic events charge at least a nominal fee for food.

khanda flagAccording to a pamphlet I was handed, free food and lodging at Sikh temples (buildings marked by an orange flag emblazoned with a khanda) for any visitlor is integral to their religion. I like the cut of their jib!

Photos from the event:

Channa Dal

Khalsa Day main stage

Khalsa Day upper view

Friendly Sikh kid

Khalsa Day photos


gross kidney beans

The merits of dried beans

I have often pondered on the mystery of the dried bean.

Because, apparently, soaking them for a period of time, then boiling them makes them digestible.

In my experience, however, this is not true (excepting lentils, but only the red kind). If I try to "keep it real" and use dried beans, as opposed to using much more expensive canned beans, a discomforting 'gassy' feeling is inevitably the result.

Now, Heather Havrilsky, the TV critic at salon.com, has helped me feel less of environmentally-unfriendly freak (at least in this regard).

In a recent column (warning, you may or may not have to stare at an ad for 10 seconds or so), she lays bare her own struggle with dried beans. I am not alone!

In part:

...Which brings us back to the bean aisle at my grocery store. This is my new therapy (since I can't afford the old kind): shopping for alarmingly cheap yet nutritious foods. It's relaxing, somehow, to stand there in front of those bags -- 33 cents for split peas! Amazing! -- fantasizing about how my family will eat only beans from now on: chilis and bean burritos (Homemade tortillas! Just flour and water!) and bean soups, whole meals that cost less than $3 to make, that might feed the family for days on end. As I escape into a hazy daydream of delicious gourmet bean concoctions, all of which are practically free, I suddenly become aware that I'm not alone.

There's a stout, pragmatic-looking woman standing next to me, fondling a bag of 15-bean soup mix. "This looks pretty tasty," she says somewhat suspiciously, half to herself and half to me. "Fifteen beans!" She breathes those words -- "Fifteen beans!" -- in the same tone most people would say "five-course meal!" or "three-week vacation!" And then she just stands there, fondling and sighing for a full minute, like she's gazing out at the Mediterranean, snacking on a delightful array of cured meats and aged cheeses.

"That does look pretty good," I say, sociably picking up the same bag. It feels good to talk to a stranger about beans. I'm not only buying beans, you see, I am discussing various bean-related options with other bean buyers...

You get the jist, I am sure. Comedy gold!


bull in a chinese shop
Bull in a China Shop, by GABLE in today's Globe and Mail.