Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Memories of Cantor's Bakery

Yesterday, J had his weekly speech therapy appointment. Afterwards, I took him for lunch at a little patisserie in Carouge. For dessert, he decided on a chocolate donut - not the transfats-laden varieties offered up by Tim Horton's or Dunkin Donuts but a real donut made from real ingredients. He lifted it to my nose to sniff and I was transported back, too many years to reveal, to Cantor's Bakery in Montreal.

When I was J's age, I would regularly visit my Nana at her apartment. It was an exciting adventure, and holding her hand, I loved exploring her N.D.G. neighbourhood. We grocery shopped at Steinberg's on Sherbrooke St., wandered the aisles of the Cumberland Drug on Somerled, and most vividly, ate chocolate donuts from Cantor's Bakery on Walkley.

Cantor's was a Montreal tradition. Walking inside, I took flight on a cornacopia of smells from the fresh baked challah bread and bagels, rugelach cookies, strudel, and gingerbread. But, it was never a competition; my 6-year old tongue always watered for Cantor's chocolate donuts. I can still taste the first bite of that donut handed to me in wax paper; the hardened dark chocolate topping had a slight snap before my teeth sank into the dense, thick sponge-like dough. I chewed it slowly, savouring every memorable morsel. Yesterday, J had the same look of epicurean ecstasy on his little face.

Not unexpectedly, Steinberg's, Cumberland's and Cantor's have long closed their doors, absorbed by big box one-stop shopping goliaths, and corner depanneurs. I still think of my Nana often but until yesterday, I hadn't thought of those chocolate donuts in years.