When I first came to Ottawa, the Byward Market was my favourite neighborhood. It had (and claimed) a European flair with its small open-air fruits-and-vegetables market, eclectic boutiques, Italian and French delis and bakeries, and historical buildings. I liked to stroll around the market and the surrounding streets, pretending I was still in Europe. I liked eating overpriced 100% non-buttery croissants and buy $10 thumb-sized pieces of cheese. In my wildest dreams, there were no huge SUVs parked on George and York Street but small German and French cars, and smoking was allowed everywhere.
What can I say, I was new to Canada.
And then I stopped being homesick and looking for an ersatz of France. I embraced what Canada had to offer, and even though I still buy a few European products here and there, I’m generally happy with the local equivalent. Hint: croissants, crêpes and French cheese are best eaten in France. In Canada, enjoy sugar pies, banana bread, peanut butter and Philadephia cream cheese.
These days, I don’t like the Byward Market that much. I see it as a tourist trap, where most restaurants and shops don’t try hard because many visitors are not repeat customers. Even the fruit and vegetable market fell out of favour with me—too many times I was handed out boxes of bell peppers that looked good on the outside just to realize that the produce was rotten—what a cheap trick!
Yet, the market is a gorgeous display of local products and colourful fruits and vegetables, especially toward the end of the summer. Just for the (free) pleasure to the eyes, it is worth a stroll.
You can set the complete set of Ottawa — Summer pictures on Flickr.