The Localist

The Ex(hibition)


Growing up in Toronto, there wasn’t a time that I looked forward to more than summer.  Like most kids, this meant two months of no teachers, no homework, sleeping in and hanging out with friends.  Plus, when you live in a country that only has 3 seasons – cold, very cold and warm – the warm months, though the shortest, are a welcome break.  Now as an adult, summer takes on added significance for me.  Like a long-lost friend, summer is an opportunity to rediscover my love for the city.  In fact, this sentiment is probably shared by many Torontonians who truly come alive at this time of year.  Festivals and free events are abound showcasing food, music, books, theatre and the city’s diversity in cultures.

One of my favourite summer events in Toronto is the Canadian National Exhibition, or the Ex, as we like to call it, which takes place in mid-August until the Labour Day weekend. The Ex, one of Canada’s largest fairs, offers an array of activities including an air show, concerts, aerial acrobats, a flea market, a midway with classic games and rides, and my personal favourite, the food building for unique eats.  The food building houses an abundance of artery clogging, belt-busting, oh-so-dirty- yet-sinfully-delightful ‘cuisine’, and sampling this wacky food is my idea of fun.

As luck would have it, one evening after work (when the Ex entry price drops to $5!), with the perfect eating partner at my side, I made my way to the Ex.  Chicken and waffles, check!  Peanut butter and bacon milkshake, check!  ‘Smores dog, check!  Deep-fried butter, double check!  I would have tried the Cronut Burger (the bun is a cross between a croissant and a donut) too if it wasn’t pulled off the menu after a multitude of people got sick from the maple bacon jam that topped the burger.  Hard to believe, but I didn’t hate myself after that, though I did make a point to go to the gym when I got home.  Understandably not for everyone, but this was how I capped off another fantastic summer, by eating the types of food I had been avoiding for two months.  Besides, a trip to the Ex is what summer in Toronto is all about, even if it is a cruel reminder that the cold season, followed by the very cold season, is fast approaching.





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