Fried Chicken, Coca-Cola and Death: Lessons From Sharing the Moment

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Moderation has value when chaos and plenty surround you. Coca-Cola is one foodstuff that I find difficult to consume in moderation, but for the past nine months I have worked towards weening myself off of the sugary perfect drink. Coke was a mainstay of my holy trinity of foods since I was a child. Wonderbread, Ketchup and Coke: if I had these items in my fridge I could take on the world. In September I went off Coke and then I went off bread; I just felt bloated and sick all of the time, so I thought I would try to limit my wheat and eliminate soft drinks as much as possible. Funny problem: when I drink Coca-Cola these days, it tastes awful. Last night, however, in a small glass bottle it was sublime and refreshing as I gorged delightfully on fried chicken, smoked ribs and fries at The Stockyards on St. Clair West.

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Food always tastes better when you are hungry and share what you have with a part of your tribe. I, for one, am a big fan of a new practice of sharing single plates of food while sitting at a bar top. Unlike big ticket restaurants, small venues tend to encourage sharing and the act of being conscious of your own fair share often keeps you from eating yourself into a food coma. While I truly love quality food, I never like that feeling of tight pants and a swollen tummy. Last night I felt like what was needed had to be southern BBQ at a little joint called The Stockyards.

Situated on St. Clair West at 699, The Stockyards lives up to the hype while still offering real food that is unapologetically deep fried before your eyes in a fryer. As we sat at the butcher block countertop, I felt connected to the line cooks carefully plunging marinated chicken (probably in buttermilk and cayenne) into flour and into the hot fat. I can honestly say that this had to be the best friend chicken I had ever tasted, and sharing half a bird made it even better. Conversation, laughter and funny voices always adds flavour to the flesh. The smoked half rack of ribs was spectacular and running out by 7pm. While not the comfiest dining room, The Stockyards has to be one of my favourite new local finds this year. Only problem: moderation will force me to visit the venue only when the waistline allows for a glutton’s feast and when I have company.

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Death and illness are the great levellers. I have been dealing with both this week. In both cases what upsets me most is the loss of possibility: what might have been if just this did not happen or that was done in moderation or a transformation happened in just the flap of a butterfly’s wings? These are not questions that can be answered, and I, for one, think that there is a reason for every positive and negative event. Perhaps events can be avoided, but perhaps we create our path through a thousand previous choices that lead us along an unperceived path. Despite the sadness, despite the horror, despite death, I believe that the universe speaks to us. We may not listen.

2013 is the year in which my life altered irrevocably, and not a single moment finds me outside of the moment I am in. While I may write a blog reflecting on what has been and what may be, I am here. I am present. I know what I want and I understand that for happiness to occur I must see the tiny strands of possibility in each second if I am to weave them together into a living tapestry that shields me and those whom I love from the dark, the cold and death for as long as possible. Sadness will happen; how we deal with it marks the type of person we are and will become.

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