Ides 77: The Market
One of Toronto’s most venerable multicultural hotbeds, Kensington Market has a storied history going back almost 120 years to when Jewish immigrants trickled into the area & set up an outdoor market on the street in front of the compact Victorian homes just west of Spadina. Over the years, more and more immigrants joined, from Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, setting up shop and making the Market their home.
Nowadays it’s a sort of right-of-passage for any Torontonian (not to mention loads of tourists) to make the trip to Kensington to visit the gritty, funky and occasionally mysterious market. Whether for a Devil’s Tongue pepper, a vintage bomber jacket or a freshly made burrito, the Market can generally supply you with whatever you are looking for, all with its very own style and swagger. This months Ides was inspired by a great story about Tony’s grandmother which reminded us that we all have great Kensington stories.
Back in the 1960s, pretty much every store in town delivered, and longtime mainstay Zimmerman’s Discount on Augusta was no exception. Tony’s grandmother took care of ordering groceries for the family and would place a weekly phone call to order delivery of sundry dry goods. In the 1960s, it was also possible to purchase pastel-shaded toilet paper to match one’s bathroom fixtures which, in Tony’s grandmother’s case, were pale pink. One day, her call to the shop was answered by the proprietor, Zoltan “Zoli” Zimmerman. Tony’s grandmother recited her shopping list in Hungarian (she and Zoli were both Hungarian-speaking Jewish Holocaust survivors from southwestern Slovakia). When she arrived at “pale pink toilet paper,” Zoli interjected:
“We don’t have the pale pink.”
“When will you have it back in stock?” asked Tony’s grandmother.
“I really don’t know. Maybe check back next week? What else can I get for you?” replied Zimmerman.
“I don’t have enough toilet paper to last until next week. Please send me the pale pink toilet paper,” Tony’s grandmother demanded.
“I don’t have it in stock.”
“You must be able to get more from your supplier,” insisted Tony’s grandmother.
Losing his customary charm and composure, Zoli inquired:“Lady, what difference does it make what colour you wipe your ass with!?!”
The only reply he got was a dial tone.*
This refreshing blonde ale, with a citrus and pepper backbone, was brewed with our pals over at Kensington Brewing is meant to capture the essence of a walk through the market and makes a great palate cleanser while noshing on Jamaican patties.